The seasons are a-changing and that can be mood-elevating… or depressing, depending on how you feel about the fall. At the very least, it’s a time when you might be connecting with family and friends again, and that’s always (well, usually) mood elevating. So, let’s look at how to make these events more cheerful by dressing up, with practicality but a little style.
The key change you’ll be seeing in some of the basic fashions this year is color! And that’s never a bad thing, especially in the colder months. So here is a review of what is available, and a few practical tips to incorporate them in what you might already have in your closet.
You don’t want to spend hours trying to mix and match a lot of mis-matched items when getting dressed. The point is to make sure every new item you buy, especially if you opt for a trendy style, goes with at least two or three other things you already have in your wardrobe.
You don’t want to sacrifice practicality for a “15-minutes of fame” trend. One way to do this is to figure out how many times you will wear an item, realistically, and divide the price by that number. Then ask yourself if you can live with that cost-per-wearing number.
One way to minimize the common nothing-to-wear situation is to start with a few wear-everywhere slacks. That means a great pair of straight-leg or slightly boot cut tailored wool or knit pants in your best neutral shades.
They will take you from work to grocery shopping to volunteer work, or a book club meeting with just a few changes of tops or cover-ups. One of the new tops that can complement these slacks is a refined version of the Henley top, reinvented in more refined knits, a casual option to the typical round neck or v-neck sweater.
For date night or a special occasion add to your tailored slacks a simple but more elegant top: crepe, washed silk or one of the new satiny silk charmeuse blouses that you’ll be seeing online and in the stores. They could be either button down or pullover styles. Add a sparkly necklace and/or earrings and you’re done!
But if you are still a dresses gal, and if you are on the thin side, many of the new knit dresses are an attractive alternative to the LBD for special occasion dressing. The ribbed, body-con midi-length knit version can work for slender bodies. Wear them with lower heels or knee- high boots.
If you’re fearless and want to try a more youthful, on-trend look, wear them with fleece booties or metallic sneakers and a bomber jacket. In general, midi-length fitted dresses call for a shorter jacket.
For those who aren’t model-thin, there is no need to give a mournful sigh or run at the site of these knits in order to embrace the trend. There are knits with looser shapes, designed for larger women that are just as stylish. These also look great with boots, booties, or simple pumps, and yes, a shorter jacket.
Another version is the knit wrap dress, which is pretty much universally flattering to every body shape, regardless of size.
As the holidays are fast approaching, you might want to step up your color game a bit to add in a little something, well let’s admit it, less mundane. Most of the knit dresses you’ll find are frankly in pretty boring color neutrals. It’s their shape and length that give them the pizazz.
One way to add some cheer to the season – and to yourself – is by wearing a pretty and brighter punch of color in a top with your slacks or a skirt. The cashmere wars are on, and you can find some amazing bargains on decent quality to even high-quality cashmere sweaters and accessories right now.
And the same goes for satin tops too. There are a lot of colorful cashmere sweaters as well as the silk tops available this year. You can accessorize these with a sparkly brooch or necklace.
Sometimes it’s easier to build an outfit by making your shoes the starting point instead of being the after-thought that you frantically hunt for after you’ve already put together what you think will be a great ensemble (we’ve all been there.) That’s because often the occasion and the climate will determine your shoes. So then your shoes can dictate the rest of the outfit.
So, for example, let’s say you’ve been invited to a Thanksgiving or Christmas soiree. You already know the attire will be a little dressier than the everyday casual you’re used to. Just start with a pair of sexier shoes than your trainers or sneakers.
That might be a simple pair of suede pumps in a basic neutral like black. But to really make a splash, look for one in a less common neutral like burgundy or navy.
If you’ve given up on heels altogether, as many have, dressy flats are another lovely option. You can go for an elegant, simple look, like a simple suede or leather flat, but take it up a notch. Look for one with an embellishment or sparkly detail in the toe area.
One of my fashionable friends hunts for colorful vintage crystal earrings at her local thrift shops and then clips those onto her plain flats and heels. Instant glamour!
For colder environments, boots are the obvious better option, and there are some really fun ones available now. If your special occasion is more laid-back, and especially if it takes you to a snow-y climate, fleece or faux fur lined booties, either with heels or flat, in a color other than tan or black can add a lift to your outfit.
This season we’ve seen them in pink, aqua, navy, kelly green, and winter white. Wear them with your heavier knit leggings, fitted slacks or straight-leg jeans. Don’t feel you have to stick with darker shades. White or lighter colored jeans in the winter are just as fashionable and a real pick-me-up on a cold autumn day.
In the category of cover-ups, there are some fun twists on the usual suspects. As a lot of fashion houses turn away from fur, fleece coats, long and short have hit the runways. And they are showing up in wonderful colors for every palette range.
The shorter versions can be worn with fitted pants, straight leg jeans or shorter dresses (that means shorter than midi-length). But keep in mind that tailored slacks and midi dresses, which tend to be more Classic and Romantic in style, require something a little less casual.
You lose the sexiness of a dress by covering it up with a short fleece coat. But the longer versions could be a great layer over one of those knitted dresses.
Puffer jackets and coats, the perennial winter favorite, are available in long or short – very short – versions. But cropped puffer coats don’t make a lot of sense, unless you only get cold from the waist up. Still, you’ll find all types and lengths in some really pretty colors now.
And then there’s the tailored topcoat, sometimes called a reefer coat. If your style leans more toward Classic attire, this is probably your best option. This would be a forever piece for you. Fashionistas are still showing them in oversized versions but to be honest, they just look a little ridiculous, unless you are very tall and somewhat Dramatic (which is kind of the opposite of Classic).
Leather and suede jackets and coats never go out of style and leather “biker” jackets are one way to add a little more edge to your plain “running around doing errands” slacks or jeans and outfit. And as described earlier, they can also be the finishing touch for a midi-length knitted dress. If you love this style, you will wear this for a very long time. The cost-to-wear ratio will be pretty low.
Lastly, you’ll see a lot of what are now being hyped as “shackets” which is a lumber-jack type shirt-jacket, often plaid. They tend to be oversize, and have really large breast pockets. These only really work for very trendy, very casual, or very Natural style types. Wear them if you dare to anything but the most laid back events.
So, are you planning on buying anything new this season? For what events will you be getting more dressed up this fall? What is in your basic wardrobe that you wear again and again?