Fall Fashion Plans! (I’m all giddy just thinking about it!)
Your intrepid advice columnist has up and had herself a baby, and will be taking a couple weeks off from her bossing-around duties. In the meantime, she’s arranged a cavalcade of her favorite writers from around the Web to come and take a crack at some of your questions, share their personal style secrets and wisdom, and hopefully keep you entertained while Amy schleps around in pajamas.
Today’s guest columnist is Heather B of No Pasa Nada. I always sort of want to steal her clothes whenever I see her, and I was very, very distressed when a waiter recently dripped red wine on the back of her awesome white jacket and spent the rest of our meal pawing at her with a club-soda-drenched napkin. Seeing as I will likely be spending this season in sweats and nursing bras, I asked her to assemble a little Fall Shopping Guide for y’all — the must-haves and the must-avoids and how to play the trends without wasting a ton of money.
Each season gives us a reason to take a second (or seventh) look at the current state of our wardrobes. For ages I would look in my closet, sigh heavily and exclaim that I have nothing to wear despite the piles of tops and the bottoms hung above. Then I would go out and buy the cheapest of the trends and fill my closet to the brim with shirts that would be out of style within months. Cute? Yes. Affordable? Forever 21 should be called Forever Cheap. Practical? Hell no.
When fall was just around the corner, I put my foot down and decided that this year would be different. A Proclamation of Wardrobe was written explicitly stating that this year I wouldn’t just follow the trends. I wouldn’t buy just for the sake of buying but to add a bit of oomph to what I currently owned. I wanted to pick up pieces that mixed and matched with my fall staples and also pieces that could keep some lighter weight fabrics strong until the first real snow.
With that first real chill, I’m all about the sweater dresses. Perhaps it’s the upstate New Yorker in me coupled with my indolent tendencies but I think that every woman should have several sweater dresses to go to when the frost hits. They’re not only warm and practical but they can be dressed up and dressed down with a simple change in footwear and also for those mornings when you don’t feel like putting an actual outfit together, a sweater dress is a good time saver. My full list goes a little something like this:
Sweater dresses: for the previously stated reasons. Also, they are pretty. I own two of these Dream fabric dresses from JCrew. While they are pricey, I’ve worn them both four times already and with the right accessories and trend pieces (which I will get to) no one will ever notice that you’re too lazy to do laundry.
Tights: To wear with the dresses for warmth purposes also they’re way more comfortable and less likely to disturb blood flow to the lower extremities unlike stockings. Oh and thicker so that if you have perpetually crappy cuticles you don’t have to risk a massive run at 7 AM. My favorites are by DKNY and can be purchased from any major department store. They’re nice and thick and warm and they stay in place and not halfway down to my knees by midday.
Boots: Because most places require footwear. See also: they look cute and there are like 150 billion styles out there. I just purchased these from zappos. Perfect for people with calves roughly the circumference of the planet. But I’ll keep them forever.
Cardigans and blazers: Something to keep you warm over lightweight shirts or to dress up a sweater dress or to help further conceal that you’re wearing the same dress…uh…again.
So those are the basics now [rubs hands together] the fun stuff: The trends. I’m not saying don’t be trendy but just make sure you buy things that go well with what you already own that help enhance what’s there. Think of it this way it’s not a full face lift but a little bit of Botox:
Belts: The way I feel about belts is almost as strong as how I feel about my parents; I love them, I need them and I cannot imagine many an outfit without them. They’re also pretty cheap – I’ve paid like $19 for the most expensive one I own – and can do a lot for a simple frock. Take a sweater dress. I have the one above from JCrew in camel. I added a wide brown belt to dress it up a bit and with my tall brown boots? Mwah! Bellisima. And for ladies with a lot in the torso, it strangely makes it look like there’s less. I don’t know how and I don’t care but it just works.
A cute transitional coat: Ok, so coats can get pricey and yet you want something cute but conducive to the climate and maybe something slightly trendy. The answer? Marshalls or TJMaxx. I am now the proud owner of a wool, empire waist peacoat for the low, low price of $49.99. So if you want to follow a trend make sure it is inexpensive. I almost spent over $200 on something that was cute and perfect for now but would be totally useless a month from now.
Ruffles: I’m still not sure how it happened but ruffles have become the greatest thing known to mankind as of late and they’re showing up on every shirt in a five mile radius. Here’s the thing about ruffles – the trendiest of the trends – next season or year they will go out of style and then you’re going to wonder why you have a closet full of ruffled Henley shirts (cough ME cough). The good thing about ruffles is that a more dramatic ruffle can make a tailored and structured piece much more feminine. So they’re fun to spice up a suit and could be worn year round if the frills thing continues. Buy your ruffles on sale and try to not go around looking like a farmer’s wife in 1950 or even worse; just plain dumb.
Boots: I mentioned boots earlier but it’s so easy to just go with what you see in an issue of InStyle rather than really think about something that you might want to wear in public. Take for example my quest for brown boots. I wanted a pair of dress boots with a heel and then I wanted a cheaper, more casual pair of flats. I looked in Albany, Maryland and when I finally got to Virginia I was about to lose my mind because really? Who goes to three different states for shoes? I ended up getting a cute, trendier pair of slouchy brown boots. Ok, here’s where I get a little preachy: Slouchy is cute and fun and de rigueur and that’s what makes trends, trends. They’re fun for a little while and then they go out of style. The end. So if say you decide to go for slouchy boots go for something that is slightly slouchy not Pat Benatar/Love is a Battlefield/side ponytail/Flashdance 1980’s slouch. There’s a difference and the latter is just a huge no.
And that there is my very extensive fall fashion-planning guide from someone who is only recently recovering from being fashion challenged. So go forth and enjoy the sales, buy some things in deep purples and greens and enjoy the calm before the (winter) storm.
Published October 27, 2008.
Last updated October 27, 2008.