Wanted: Chicago’s Most Chic and Curvy Maxxinista!

Every day I gaze out of my window and notice the trees. Green soon faded to gold, orange, some became fiery red. Gorgeous. And now most of the foliage has fallen, and the trees have bare (yet still beautiful) branches.

Chicago has been having an unusually warm autumn and this bella is not complaining! It just gives me more time to rock my late-summer gear, and get ready for the cold weather that is inevitably a-coming. I’ve been thinking long and hard about the items I need to enhance my wardrobe, and I realize that I need HELP!


True story: I don’t know how to layer. I think I have it down pat, them my husband looks over my outfit and lets me know that ain’t it. (and he’s not exactly Tim Gunn, so I KNOW I’m struggling).

I apparently don’t realize what kinds of garments I need to get through the upcoming wind and cold with style and self-expression. And I don’t quite get how to put it all together to the most fashionable effect.

So I need help from someone who knows how to WORK IT in Chicago’s unfriendliest season. I’m on the look out for Chicago’s most chic, curvy fashionista, to join me on a shopping spree at TJ Maxx!

For this very unique giveaway, TJ Maxx has provided a $250 gift card for one lucky winner’s purchasing pleasure. The winner will use that $250 and join me in shopping for fall fashion essentials. And we’ll film a little video about our coolest finds, to share with Afrobella readers!

Does that not sound FUN?

So Maxxinistas — mount up! Do you have this cold weather fashion thing down? Leave me a comment describing your personal cold weather style. If you’ve got links to photos online, share with me! I’m going to leave these comments open until Wednesday, and choose a winner ASAP so we can go get our shop on! The air’s getting chilly and I’m ready to be in style before Christmas!

*** edited Wednesday at 8:05 CST – Bellas!! You blew me away with your AWESOME suggestions. I’ll choose a winner by the end of today from the 15 comments received so far, so hang in there! And guess what — I have some GREAT giveaways coming up next, so keep reading, keep entering and if it isn’t your turn this time it might be the next time!

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  1. I love Spanx opaque hosiery and will wear just about every day in the winter here. Keeps you warm and fashionable. A fur lined or faux fur lined hat is a must if you plan to do a lot of walking. My favorite is a back sheepskin aviator style one I have, bold, fashionable and warm. And good boots! Be sure to keep the hair and skin moisturized as winters are drying and brutal.

  2. marketing_savvy says:

    as the reader commented above Spanxx opaque leg wear is fabulous, not only do they keep your stems warm and fashionable, they also hold in my jiggly parts!! however they have the very basics in color (black or brown). i love to layer colored leggings under cute skirts or even summer dresses! as I type I am wearing a long sleeved hooded grey sweater dress under my fav teal blue summer dress with black leggings! bright long sleeve tees are great under shorter sleeved shirts too! my winter favorite is swag rags! they serve as wonderful accessories and keep my neck protected while braving the harsh winds of Lake Michigan. will upload a pics as soon as I get home…

  3. I’m not a fasionista or Maxxinista (I’ve never been either). Nor do I live in the Chi. My winter wardrobe is a wool peacoat, gloves and (accidentally) an oversized scarf. Anything else is courtesy. I would def. be the worst person to take shopping.

  4. I don’t live in the Chicago area either but hear in DMV area it can get a little chilly too.

    I like to rock colorful wool coats with basic pieces underneath. I have several black coats (I have a thing for coats) that I wake up with colorful hats and scarves. Funky boots always make cold weather dressing fun!

  5. What a fantastic giveaway! Especially since I practically LIVE in TJ MAxx! Born and raised in Chicago, I’ve mastered “cold weather chic”.

    Tights are DEFINITELY a staple in my wardrobe. For work, there’s nothing more classic than a pencil skirt, black tights and a pair of classic black platform pumps. On top, I usually opt for a crewneck sweater (I adore puffy shoulders) with either a brooch or oversized pearls OR a tank/tee or ruffled blouse layered under a cardigan belted at the waist.

    On weekends, you’ll still find me in tights but instead coupled with a cute dress or short full skirt plus boots. Depending on the weather, I’ll wear slouchy leather boots (flat or kitten heel) or my graffiti-embossed Uggs. :-)

    In regards to outerwear, I love wool coats in classic styles (ie: military or trench). They last for many years and surpass trends. I love to accessorize with anything from an embellished flapper hat or beret to leather gloves in a funky color to scarves with unique patterns/intricate details.

    Whew! That was a lot! LOL! And that only scratches the surface. When it comes to dressing for winter, the sky really IS the limit. It’s all about finding your own style and having fun with it. In Chicago, the cold weather battle is inevitable. So, you might as well look fabulous while fighting it. :-)

  6. I live MD – but it gets really cold here too. I would definitely check out Land’s End – - they have a great plus size section with lots of affordable heavy duty – - but not bulky – - sweaters and jackets in all kinds of vibrant colors. They also make the greatest pair of plus size jeans ever. I swear by the Women’s UltraFit Jackie Bootcut Denim and Pants. Pants made of heavy fabric. When ordering, Lands End does the hemming for free – - I’m short so this is essential. Best of Luck at TJ Maxx but be sure to check out LandsEnd.com.

  7. I am loving this giveaway! As a lifelong Chicagoan who has battled many cold and harsh winters, I’ve come to one conclusion: after awhile, you can get stuck in a bit of a routine and you don’t worry about being fashionable, because you are just trying to deal with the cold weather. So you want to make sure your winter wear is fashionable yet functional, because you might not be as concerned on the 30th day of snowfall. Here are some of the items I think that would be great to have in your arsenal:

    Boots: For the past two winters, I’ve worn Uggs with moderate success. However, I would say, no matter what brand/style you decide to go with, you want to make sure there is a good grip at the bottom of the shoe. If there is a smooth surface at the bottom, it’s pretty much a given (unless you are very careful at every step) that you will slip.

    Coat: Whatever coat I chose to buy, I always look for a classic style that can last for at least a couple of winters. And I always look for something that makes the coat look a bit unique, such as an interesting collar or colorful buttons.

    Layering: This is important with the coat, because layering can be essential. You can take summertime tees short-sleeved tees and layer them over long-sleeved T-shirts or you can wear T’s under cardigans. And for the coat, you are going to make sure you have enough room for these layers so it doesn’t appear too bulky.

    Hats: Finding a nice and comfy hat is also essential. If the wool of a hat is too scratchy or aggravates your hair (it does for me), then you might want to get something with a cotton lining. Or what I also do is fine a cotton scarf, wrap it around my neck and then wrap it around my head to make a little hood.

    You want to make sure that your dressier pants and coats have a nice lining to them and are fully lined. If you are wearing skirts, then you want a nice, thick pair of tights, perhaps a wool-blend or merino wool.

    I hope this helps!! Best of luck this winter season!

  8. Afobella, I’m a Chicago native and shockingly, I don’t like to layer (gasp!) I tend to get very hot, so I still keep my clothing (top and bottom) to single pieces, even in winter.

    That said, for me, gearing up for winter is about focusing on your foundation and your outerwear, or “the under and the over”.

    Foundation — I echo all the comments about Spanx opaque tights (I have on a pair today, as a matter of fact) or any other pant liner that also serves to perform like longunderwear. When it’s very, VERY chilly, I sometimes incorporate a Cuddle Duds-type top. This helps not just from a warmth perspective but also gives you a barrier between your (possibly sensitive) skin and clothing, which is important when you’re talking about utilitarian-but-can-be-scrathy wools, angoras, etc. You want to make sure that your skin, which is already suffering because it’s drier, isn’t attacked or more susceptible to irritation or further moisture loss.

    Outerwear: It’s all about the fashionable bubble coat with shape — I’ve found that a pea coat, cute as it may be, will only last you so long, especially when you hit January! A down-filled coat is a MUST with these Chicago winds. It’s also imperative to find a well-sealed, lined boot that will keep all moisture out (for me, it starts at the feet: If my feet are warm, everything else is manageable; if my feet are ice blocks, nothing else matters). Other must-haves are leather gloves (the wind will come right through any other material) and a silk or satin-lined hat (preferable) or silk scarf to put underneath your hat, at the very least.

    Hope this helps!

  9. Hey, I am not entering the comp but wanted to add my tips (TJ maxx is called TK Maxx in the UK)…..
    I would say definitely invest in some vests that can be worn under any top. whether they are cotton vest or shape wear. Long sleeve vests that can be worn with sleeveless tops. You can never go wrong with a fashionable cardigan.

  10. Heeeeeey Afrobella.
    Well THIS Ummie does not live in Chi-town, but rather the D/M/V and we get cold here too!!

    As a hijabi (a muslim woman that observes hijab), layering is a MUST. In the winter I tend to buy FUNKY socks from Sock Dreams to go with my basic work skirts and pants.

    I’ve been come a fan of Jessica London and Women With In. THey provide a sista with nice long sleeve tee’s and long skirts.

    I like coats as well. In order to rock the cute short one you gotta cover up that body with cami’s, long sleeve tee’s, sweaters and warm pants/jeans.

    U can make it happen!!

  11. Ignore her size; but study the looks. This woman is a master of layering: one dress and hundreds of looks. You can get inspiration on what layering means and then adjust for your own taste: Enjoy: http://www.theuniformproject.com

    Then using some of the same techniques apply to your jacket and coats. Sweater coats and dresses are cool. The right weight of fabric so things can go over or under. Buy basic neutrals & then colors in light weight long sleeve, short sleeve, v/neck, and tank. Use scarves, snoods, cardigans to layer with. Good luck.

  12. Chi-town to NYC Bella says:

    Hi Afrobella!

    I would have soooooo entered (and hopefully won) this entry but have recently relocated to NYC. BUT having grown up in Chi-city, I must tell you that fashion only goes so far in a Chicago-style winter. You may start off cute, but by mid-week you will realize that warmth overshadows fashion Dec (normally Nov.) through April in Chicago. Enjoy the shopping, but dont forget to keep the “real gear”!!!!!

  13. I love layering! but being a curvy girl it can sometimes be hard. Doing it successfully is a task because I don’t want to look like a stuffed sausage lol. BEcause of this I have learned to work my winter weather well. I love tights, which can go well under leggings & jeans (especially ripped ones). I love sweaters like pull overs and cardigans…my fav would be the thick cable knit style. Altogether I love shopping, one thing I know is the small things make a BIG impact.

    Love to shop and Love the Blog!!!!

  14. I’ve worked in downtown Chicago for 10+ years and I have many strategies for dealing with the brutal Chicago winter (and wind)! I wear a lot of dresses and skirts since it’s easier for me to find stylish work wear. Lots of tights, lots of gloves/boots/scarves. Lots of LAYERS! One of my favorite go too outfits is a dress worn jumper style over a turtleneck or cowl-neck sweater. A shift dress keeps it from looking too juvenile and great jewelry helps.

  15. To start off I’m definitely a Maxxinista! And like you I moved from a hot climate (the neighboring island of Barbados) to Chicago, albeit, 15 years ago. I still haven’t gotten use to the crazy, windy, cold weather yet but I have definitely learned how to dress for it.

    First, don’t pack away those summer basics like tees and tanks because they can be the base to layering. I love layering lacy tanks under wool, cotton or sweater cardigans with slacks for work or jeans for a weekend look. Tees and turtle necks are good to layer under dresses including strapless dresses to make them more fall/winter ready with a pair of great tights/leggings. Having a scarf to complete the layering look is a must.

    For Chicago you definitely have to invest in two coats (at least) a wool coat for fall like days and a fashionable puffy coat with a hood for the snowy days. You need a pair of winterized boots for walking on un-shoveled side walks and through inches of snow and a pair for every other day.

    Good thing all of these things can be found at great prices at T.J Maxx.


  1. [...] always make me happy and excited, but my recent TJ Maxx giveaway had this bella feeling over the moon. It wasn’t easy, but I chose one Chicago fashion expert [...]

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