Winter is soon upon us.
My pool, a few months ago, a welcoming reflection of summer’s haze now looks a bit sinister. Leaves clutter its bottom and wolf spiders lie in wait in the basket filters to torment and attack me when I go to empty them.
Summer’s last sweet note has been sung–even in South Carolina where I live and now it is time to add layers and layers upon us, draping ourselves in structured blazers, riding boots as vertical as chimneys and sweaters that bulk us up like inflated inner tubes.
Can you tell I am a bit fraught with the onslaught of shorter, nippier days that bring with it the onslaught of winter woolens?
But we can only fight it for so long. My closet looks like a bomb went off in it. I refuse to switch out my summer wardrobe for winter and with cooler temps here in the South lately, I have had to import my cool weather clothes and mix them in with the summer. It’s a mess. I can barely stand to open my closet door. Sigh.
Still, inasmuch as I dread winter rolling in with it’s pervasive gray-ness, I have been working on making my current fall and winter pieces even more ‘au currant’ with the addition of a few well-chosen items that I know will be great investments– and accessories that make those classics completely hip and fresh for a new season ahead.
Here follow five quick must haves for Fall 2014. At least in my opinion.
1. The Irish Sweater.
Question: What is life without one classic Irish sweater hanging in your closet?
Answer: Like an unending, unforgiving damp rain in Limerick–not nice.
Lest you think the Irish sweater is passe, fuddy-duddy, too preppy, too whatever, listen up–you will never own a better, more flattering, more versatile, more cool sweater in your life except for maybe a black cashmere turtleneck.
The Irish sweater goes with everything hanging in your closet and everything you’ve yet to buy that will hang in your closet.
Pair it with a kilt and moto boots. Subversively sublime. Top it over a striped button down and make sure the tail of your shirt hangs out at the bottom, add booties, boyfriend jeans rolled up so a bit of your leg shows and you’re fashion gold. Pair it with a long peasant skirt and beat up Fryes underneath and channel the crunchy. Top a leather moto jacket in black over it, grab a thick, studded leather bracelet (a la Hermes Collier de Chien, left) and you have a look you can wear until you’re 99.
If it was good enough for Steve McQueen about what, fifty years ago, it’s just fine by me.
You’ll find the best Irish-inspired sweaters at Vince and J Crew.
2. The Mary Jane
Every year a designer or two or three or more churns out their version of the Mary Jane. (Above, Yves St Laurent for Fall 2014, about $800) And just so you know– there are bad, bad Mary Janes out there every year. Really bad.
Here’s the thing: you are going to have to drop some dinero on a pair of Mary Janes, if you choose to buy. For whatever reason, they are just that shoe (like a pair of riding boots) that you just can’t skimp on or they look tragic. I have no idea why. I have tried to figure this out. I do not have the answer.
I will say this–Mary Janes that are not well made always, always end up looking dumpy and nerdy and sad. They do. You can argue with me all you want but they do. You have to spend some money on Mary Janes. You can get cheap sandals, you can get cheap pumps but you just cannot get cheap Mary Janes or you look cheap.
So now that we’ve got that little spiel out of the way. On to the good stuff.
This year Ralph Lauren sent his new Polo line (gorgeous!) models down the runway in Mary Janes to chic effect, above and below.
Hedi Slimane, chief designer at Yves St Laurent Mary Jane-d his models on the catwalk. It was school girl done so not nerdy.
Chloe made a terrific pair of T-strap Mary Janes for fall, about $400:
Tory Burch churns out her version of preppy meets urban Mary Janes that are greedily swooped up by women from coast to coast most every season. For Fall 2014, she was inspired by ‘the Mary Jane of Ireland’, the Ghillie, below.
All this to say, Mary Janes get a bad rap. They’re thought of as a nerdy shoe, a frumpy, unnecessary and un-fashion-y addition to one’s image– and that’s just not fair. I have a pair of patent Marc Jacobs Mary Janes from years back that I pull out in the fall. And when I do, I get stopped.
I find a zillion different ways to wear them; they look modern and fresh every single time. In fact I wore them today to church and while the choir was belting out a hymn, I stole a glance at my Mary Janes and smiled.
J Crew always makes some great Mary Janes that are more affordable. But stay far, far away from no-name Mary Janes and the crunchy, hippie kind you see in art communities. No, no and no.
Alexa Chung always inspires me when it comes to Mary Janes. She’s often pictured pairing them with a sexy LBD when a tall, sexy sandal would be chosen by anyone else. She rocks her MJ’s to impressive effect and doesn’t look a bit nerdy:
Love her in Mary Janes and leather skirt, above.
Now this is how you wear a feminine shoe–you take it and wig it out a bit with the edgy–here a pencil leather skirt– and you’ve got a look with the perfect amount of tension–a little lady-like with the subversive. It’s how a modern woman dresses at any age.
3. The Beanie
The humble beanie has been gaining momentum and for good cause. Everyone can look so cool in them, no matter your hair color, weight, face shape or your age. A beanie is just universal.
Cara Delivigne, above seems to wear them so well. And take note: they always look good with two things–chunky sweaters and leather jackets.
There’s a formula to the best look in a beanie: No pom pom at the top. A bit of a slouch to the back. A thin knit works best. Ribbing makes it extra special and cashmere–well, it’s the ultimate.
The best beanies are by Vince and they’re thin and cashmere and have the perfect slouch, below.
Ralph Lauren also does a sexy beanie. Go to each respective website and you’ll find them there. Expect to pay somewhere between $75 and $100-plus for a cashmere beanie that will never go out of style, always make you look so louche and will keep your warm for many, many winter moons to come.
And if you’re in Asheville, North Carolina, stop by the imitable store, ‘Street Fair’ on Battery Park Avenue where you’ll find some fabulous beanies (amidst all the other incredible finds) in a basket in the back of the store. It’s a thrill to visit and the thrill of the chase really gets your adrenaline up!
4. The Footless Tight
This was a trend I was perplexed about initially. I have seen footless tights before and have found them unappealing. I’ve thought they are odd and dopey-looking and completely useless and irrelevant.
Now I own a pair.
My opinion did a 180 when I saw the Fall 2014 Ralph Lauren Polo runway images (above). Model after model was working the catwalk in these like it was nobody’s biz. I found myself staring at their legs more than the clothes.
What were these odd things? At first I thought they were leggings. I did a little research and found out no, indeed they were not. These were literally footless tights, paired with those aforementioned Mary Janes, mixed with dresses and skirts! I wanted a pair immediately. It’s no secret my legs aren’t my best feature and yet, with a well-made pair of opaque black tights, they come alive and are less menacing!
I ordered a pair from Ralph Lauren online, curious to try this totally new and for me, unexpected look. I actually wore them today and paired them with my Marc Jacobs Mary Janes, a short tartan plaid skirt and an Irish sweater. I got the once over often because it was such an unusual look and I would like it to think it was not only flattering but confusing…What is she wearing? Are those tights? Are they leggings? Why do they have the foot cut out?
This look is so completely cool, I struggle for words. What could have been really, really bad on me and not age appropriate, ended up being modern, flattering, comfortable and so hip I was sold.
Take a chance this fall and try this runway trend. You can get footless tights at Nordstroms too. The ‘Commando’ brand footless tight Nordies carries online gets high marks and comes in light control. I plan on trying that brand too.
This look is best with Mary Janes. I’ve seen footless tights paired with pumps and to me, it comes of looking a little ‘Flashdance’/clubbin’ to me. Ralph gets it right on the runway with the Mary Janes. I’d stick with those.
5. The Camp Sock
If God is in the details, then camp socks or fall 2014 are directly from His hands to our feet. Once again, the Ralph Lauren Fall runway provided inspiration for this look. Models wore them scrunched with hick-soled clogs and sandals of all things. And did they ever look fantastic.
Add a diaphanous, romantic silk dress with it and it’s just inspired dressing. I bought a pair and wore them with a platform bootie and a Polo RL maxi black henley dress I got for winter, paired with Western concho belt the other day. Yes, I got stopped and yes, I was comfortable to the nth degree.
It’s amazing what a small detail like that will do for a look.
You’ll find the best camp socks in black, navy, and even brown at Ralph Lauren online and J Crew online. And not only are they are cheap pop of cool for your fall looks, they are really comfortable and cozy to wear. You’ll hate to take them off at the end of the day…
The cold weather doesn’t seem so menacing with a few well-edited additions to your closet, right?