Now that summer is officially over, I’m taking a few moments to reflect on some of the lows of holiday fashion.
1. Boob tubes/strapless dresses with ‘armpit overhang’. Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and the City never has this problem – does she use some sort of transparent ‘armpit bra’?
2. Canary/carnival colours. A lime green top is ok, but matching it to lime green shoes and handbag just screams ‘Lilt lady’ (above photo - does Lilt even exist any more?)
3. Themed fashion. Summer seems to provide the perfect backdrop for ‘I’m Esmerelda the gypsy princess’ / ‘I’m Meryl Streep in out of Africa’ outfits and head to toe jangling ‘ethnic’ accessories. It’s all good clean honest fun, but as Jackie O said, ‘look in the mirror before you go out and remove one accessory’ (I struggle with this sometimes, but hey, I was never a first lady :-)).
4. Strappy high heels on sweaty days. Chafing is never sexy, and neither are plasters. I personally spent a small fortune on Compeed transparent gel plasters this summer. Next year I promise to stick to comfy pumps, honestly.
5. And finally, too much flesh on show. Come on, we’ve all done it.
I’ve just looked back on what I’ve said, and think I’m starting to sound like a disapproving aunt! So to provide a bit of balance, here are what I see as the 5 best things about Autumnal fashion.
1. Wool. Real wool (with no acrylic blended in) seems to be a rarity in high street shops these days. I spent all of last winter searching for the perfect black pure wool jumper to no avail, and the same seems to happen every year... Why is it so hard to find plain, chunky knit sweaters with a bit of edge that won’t bobble at first sight? Search as I might, nothing can match up to my ‘favourite jumper ever’ which I shrank to Barbie-doll size in the washing machine 6 years ago, but refused to throw away till last year (perhaps I was hoping to dress my future babies in it?). It was from Karen Millen (back in the day when Karen Millen was actually a decent place to shop), a fine grey merino wool knit with matte finish steel clasps at the shoulders. I bought it 11 years ago, but it still would have been perfectly wearable today (if I hadn’t decided to risk throwing it in the machine).
2. Sexy shoes. Let’s face it, feet aren’t always all that pretty, and cool-weather footwear provides the perfect cover up (and eliminates the need for pedicures). One of the best things about dressing up in Autumn and Winter is the footwear - the fantastic brown riding boots, the sharp black heels, the garçon brogues. I am particularly coveting a pair of those hoof-like ankle boots. Time to get out the shoe polish; I love that smell!
3. Scarves and fauxminas (my cheapo take on pashminas). After a childhood of constant winter throat infections, one day I finally woke up and took my mum’s advice, ‘wear a scarf’. And now I love them. Perhaps it’s something to do with living in Spain where people are never far from their scarves (even in summer, my ex-students would have a little piece of cloth tied round their necks ‘because of a sore throat’, I’ll elaborate on this hypochondria in a future post) but as soon as the weather gets even a little bit cool, out come my scarves. For me they not only provide a form of physical protection against the cold, but they also make me feel fortified in other ways, a sort of armour against the outside world.
4. Crisp white shirts. Need I say more? No garment speaks confidence, style and ‘togetherness’ more than this one (who the hell do I think I am, Anna Wintour?!)
5. Tweed. I have loved tweed ever since my picking up my first tweed jacket from Oxfam when I was 15. Charity shops are something that just don’t translate well in Spanish ‘you bought something second hand?’ people will say, looking at you as if you just ate a peanut you found in a public toilet! To be honest most charity shops in the UK are probably filled with tat, but living in the newly prosperous ‘between the commons’ area in London as a teen, these shops were a hunting ground for Chanel and Dior cast offs at teen-friendly prices... (though I think mine was a hunting jacket, some old school British brand).
6. I know this list is meant to have only 5 items, But I had to add another; trench coats. So many classy ladies come to mind - Jackie O, Julie Christy, Audrey Hepburn, just about any Hitchcock blonde :-)
For amazing autumn style check out The Sartorialist. ¡Viva Otoño! But really sorry for all those people suffering nightmare floods around the country right now :-(
p.s. The Lilt Ladies were used to advertise refreshing 80s tropical drink, Lilt.