June 18, 2018
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Winter fashion with a Maine twist

By Aislinn Sarnacki, BDN Staff

Wearing a monkey on your head is the latest rage. Sometimes trends are hard to explain, but one thing is for sure, fashion can be fun.

If animal hats aren’t for you, there are plenty of other ways to be bold and embrace trends this winter. The most popular outerwear accessories in Maine are all about material and functionality, and there seems to be something for everyone, from theatergoer to ski bum.

Clothing designer Jessi Sader of Orono, owner of the FX Designs clothing line, travels to a trade show in Los Vegas to hear forecasts on future trends, buy textiles and share ideas with other designers.

“In New England, we’re fairly functional,” Sader said. “We don’t even touch a lot of the trends — you know the pant suits and some of the bright electric colors — we just don’t do it in the wintertime here.”

But there are a few trendy yet practical cold-weather accessories that have been flying off store shelves across the state.

Wrap it up

Sader often works in wool and cashmere textiles, materials that will keep Maine people warm in the winter. This year, the infinity scarf (or loop scarf) has been the most popular of her FX Dressed winter accessories.

“Anybody can wear a scarf,” said Sader, whose main shop is Bella Luna in downtown Bangor. “And we need them to keep warm. If someone doesn’t really like to do much with their clothing, a scarf really adds detail and it’s an easy way to dress up a little bit.”

Oftentimes, scarves shift so that one end hangs much lower than the other. The infinity scarf fixes that problem. It’s a scarf without an end — a loop of fabric that typically wraps around a neck two times. And most of the time, the scarf is so wide it can be tossed over the head as a hood when snow starts to fall.

“Function is such an important element in Maine, so things need to work well,” said Michelle Walker, owner of Coyote Moon boutique in Belfast, where infinity scarves have also been a big seller.

Revamping the old

As part of the resurgence of 1980s fashion, leg warmers are back, and this practical accessory is especially popular for Maine boot wearers. They can be worn inside a tall boot to fill the space between the boot and leg or they can be worn over an ankle boot for a smooth transition between leather and jean.

While most modern leg warmers are neutral colors, Sader creates upcycled leg warmers in bright colors and her signature patterns.

“Don’t be afraid to play with color,” said Sader. “I think a lot of people are scared of color and definitely scared of patterns and prints.”

Some of the styles recently resurrected from earlier decades may never take off in the Northeast, but mid-1970s glam rock has recently influenced some fancier outerwear accessories. A metallic scarf quickly dresses up an outfit, and if you really want to be bold, look for sequins. Materials that sparkle and shine are in this season, according to Vogue fashion experts.

Fur attack

“I always look at larger trends,” said Walker about picking out merchandise for Coyote Moon. “Maine doesn’t rush into trends, so I pick up a little something that’s on the edge, but I don’t go heavy into it until I see that it’s a sustained trend.”

Faux fur is one of those trends that Walker and other shops across the state embraced for the first time this year, be it faux-fur scarves, hats, mittens, fingerless gloves, wristlets or cuffs.

“We’ve sold three huge deliveries of [fur hats, scarves and wristlets],” said Collette Warren, owner of Rapid River Co. in Freeport. “They’re pretty cozy.”

The fake fur has especially made an appearance in bomber hats, a style that is popular among men and women this year, said Brad Ryder, owner of Epic Sports in Bangor.

Ways to be warm

In a cold climate, the more material to cover up in, the better. Perhaps that’s why loose-fitting, knit boho-chic hats are making a big comeback in Maine. Usually in solid colors, these hats look like oversize beanies. They cover the ears, flop down in the back and pretty much say “I don’t care.”

For a more sophisticated look, classic handmade wool caps are a timeless favorite, and many come with hidden ear covers sewn into the lining.

Moving to the hands, glittens — fingerless gloves with mitten flaps that can be buttoned back — are in high demand this year as more people are using smartphones, MP3 players and tablets.

Knit wool glittens lined with fleece have become a top-selling outerwear accessory at Mexicali Blues in Bangor, along with animal hats made of the same materials.

“We’ve sold so many of them,” said Julie Baker Leaden, manager of Mexicali Blues in Bangor. “They’re just fun.”

The sock monkey hat and bear hat are the most popular at the Bangor bohemian boutique, but they also sell hats that sport the knit faces of lions, tigers, penguins, chimpanzees and donkeys, all with ear flaps and dangling pom-poms. The store sold out of dinosaur hats, complete with spikes down the middle and a tail in the back.

For information on FX Dressed accessories and clothing, visit fxdressed.com.

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