Guest Post
Today’s post is written by brilliant, charming, super stylish and cool Veteran member Jonesy, who hails from the Great Lakes region in the US and works full time in Academia. Jonesy recently drove down to Chicago for a YLF gathering and these are her thoughts on what was an AMAZING day!

When Angie first posted that she would be coming to Chicago in mid-March and would love to get together with area YLFers, the wheels starting turning. Could I drive to Chicago from my nearby state? Could I actually take part in one of these gatherings that I had read about? Yes! Soon I received a personal message from Sveta. She was considering coming from Canada: Could she drive to my house, then we would drive to Chicago together? Of course! 

As the plans progressed and our numbers grew (13 total, including 6 out-of-staters and Sveta), Chicago local Laura fearlessly coordinated our shopping and dining itinerary. We would all meet at a bakery in Chicago for breakfast on St. Patrick’s Day, then shop, then lunch, then shop some more.

Sveta and I arrived in Chicago on Friday afternoon, dropped our stuff off at our hotels, and made a beeline for H&M and Nordstrom Rack, where we met up with MNSara. Sara had been shopping and had actually run into Angie in the All Saints department at Bloomingdales! How fun is that? After some frantic shopping (I scored a Marni for H&M blouse and a fab Hanii Y coat at the Rack), we freshened up at our hotels and met for dinner. I had a lovely meal, but the highlight for me was my trio of house-made gelato for dessert: espresso, salted caramel, and hazelnut-chocolate. Sara and Sveta both declined dessert—madness, I say!

Where was I? Oh yes, back to meeting Angie, all the other YLFers, and shopping! By 8:30 a.m. on Saturday when I was making my way to the bakery for breakfast, many Chicagoans were already strolling about dressed in crazy St. Pat’s finery, lining up outside of bars, and preparing for the parade. It was quite a scene, and it would only intensify as the day wore on and the temperature reached close to 80 degrees. In Chicago. In March. When there is usually still snow on the ground.

When I got to the bakery, I was so excited! I think I saw Marianna first—I instantly recognized her in her snappy black and white striped blazer and lovely blue silk blouse. I quickly met Laura, Nakidra, and Raclar. Everyone looked gorgeously coordinated and luminous in graphic prints and bright colors. Then I saw Angie, looking impeccable in her cream polka dot silk blouse, red slim bootcut trousers, leopard belt, and cream booties (not that I was staring at Angie’s outfit or anything), and was treated with a big hug and the warmest smile. Soon more and more fabulous Fabbers arrived. We were joined by Beth Ann, bj1111, Julie, MNSara, Susan, Sveta, and Traci, all looking wonderful and ready to take on Chicago. We spent a good hour chatting boisterously and laughing constantly at the bakery, before heading to the Rack. Since this was a different Rack from the one I had shopped at the day before, I was ready for more sweet finds!

Angie moved about the Rack very authoritatively, and we all fanned out looking for bargains. Sveta found Paige jeans that were long enough to wear 2” heels with, Sara found a beautiful colorblocked bag, Beth Ann found a pair of adorable Miz Mooz heels, and Angie found an eye-catching throw pillow (Me: “What will you do with it on the plane?” Quick-tongued Angie: “I will sit on it!”). I found a fascinating DVF kimono-esque drop-waist tunic that Laura has spotted in the racks as well as a pair of Paige skinny jeans. (Me, lifting up my shirt to show Angie my rearside in the dressing room area: “Does my butt look too flat?” Angie: “Not at all!”). Many other wonderful purchases were made, but frankly I lost track of everything after a certain point! Bj1111 surely wins the prize for most fabulous find, and I was there to witness it. I was standing near her when I heard her shout “Junya Watanabe! Junya Watanabe!” She was clutching an exquisite black leather coat/cape from the renowned Japanese designer. It combined a corset-like fit in front with a swingy cape in back. She put it on and it followed her curves like a tailor-made glove. Futuristic Jetsetter meets Batwoman meets Intellectual Visionary meets Bold Style Risk-taker. Readers, she took it home with her.

Next stop, the enormous flagship Macy’s (formerly the venerable Marshall Field’s, RIP). Angie was looking for a dress to wear to a wedding, Sveta was looking for packable jersey dresses to take with her to France, and the rest of us were happy to browse and chat. The store was enormous and quite overwhelming, but we quickly settled in and found our shopping groove. Both Angie and Sveta were successful in filling their wardrobe gaps, and we had fun trying on all sorts of goodies. More patterned pants for me! At this point we were feeling our collective blood sugar crash as our breakfast cupcakes and coffee were wearing off. Luckily our next stop was lunch at the Burnham Hotel, where we were joined by the charming and fabulous Greg.

As we were arriving at the restaurant, I heard the host say to one of the YLFers: “Do you all work in some sort of industry where you have to dress nicely?” Well, I thought to myself, it’s something like that… Lunch was delicious and so much fun! We talked and laughed more, and refueled for a bit more shopping. Outside, we posed amidst the stream of green-clad Chicagoans while Greg took some group photographs.

Sadly, our time together was beginning to wind down. We returned to Macy’s to check out the shoe selection, then went to H&M (I returned my Marni blouse because of pattern placement issues), then Zara. Soon everyone was starting to say their goodbyes. That’s the unfortunate thing about these gatherings. At some point, they eventually have to end. Everyone hugged and exclaimed over what a wonderful day it had been. Sveta and I drove back to my house, talking the whole way about the trip, our kids, our pets, everything really. We started planning when we would get together next, perhaps at NAS. Despite getting very little sleep and talking non-stop for many hours, I felt surprisingly giddy and alert for our 4-hour drive. Some of Angie’s incredible energy must have rubbed off on me!

I am home now and back to my weekend routine of laundry, grocery shopping, and preparing for my work week, but I am still feeling the magic of our gathering. It was so delightful to meet Angie and everyone else. As Sveta said, when you meet other women from YLF it feels like you’ve known each other for a long time. Thank you, Angie and Greg, for creating this special community that revolves around style and fashion, but is really so much more.