I was sitting at the window table at the Bongo Room in Wicker Park, having a lazy Valentine’s Day brunch with my husband, when I saw a pop of red walk by on the other side of the street. Even though it was a bit of a sacrifice to abandon my pear and dried cherry French toast, I had to run and pursue that timely vision. It was worth it: photographer Kristine Bo Bean, whose Instagram motto is “If I’m too much, go find less,” truly delivered the ultimate look for the date.
“As a concept, I don’t really like Valentine’s Day,” Bo Bean says. “I think it puts down people that are not in relationships. I don’t think that’s cool. But I love the vibe. I love the hearts and the cute, fuzzy, fun girly stuff. So [the outfit] is just based on ‘What do I have that’s, like, Valentinesy?’ And then I went from there.”
Picking out such an elaborate outfit is actually not too hard for the Rogers Park resident, who ventured southbound that day to enjoy some ice cream at Vaca’s Creamery. Since Bo Bean doesn’t have much storage in her apartment, she basically lives in a boutique, with all her clothing conveniently displayed all over.
“I have a clothing rack with all my coats on it, and piping on the wall to hang sweaters and stuff,” she says. With a collection of more than 100 sunglasses, Bo Bean likes to have plenty to choose from, but she’s not a snob: “I like to shop a lot, but mostly secondhand and vintage, just because I like to have more things than less. I’m not a quality-over-quantity person,” she says, adding: “I don’t think you need to spend a lot of money to look good.”
Bo Bean describes her style as “expressive, funky, and eclectic, with a little bit of everything”: “It’s very colorful, with a lot of texture—like fur, lace, and leather. I’m very ‘feely.’” She dresses according to her mood, and doesn’t like to follow trends. To her, fashion means “freedom” and “wearable art,” a form of expression she highly values in her everyday life.
No matter her vibe, she always makes deliberate sartorial choices: “This is going to sound a little morbid for a second. We could die at any time, right? That’s the truth. But if we come back as ghosts to haunt people, I want to look cool. So I need my ghost outfit,” she says, proving that to live your best life—or death—a bit of styling goes a long way.
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