Fall Overhaul Part II – Fall Fashion

Somewhere along the way I got absorbed into a personal writing project and my Fall Overhauling and forgot to write this blog! I left off right after complaining about not fitting into my jeans from 2007, which is sort of an odd place to simply stop. To all (5) of my faithful readers, I apologize. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Writing – 145 pages of fiction

Weight – down 5 lbs

Hunger – up 80%

Travel – a wonderful trip to glorious Winneconne, Wisconsin

TV watching – The New Girl, which I give a solid “B” for the pilot episode, Ringer with Sarah Michelle Gellar (I joined late and never did figure out what was going on, exactly), a shameful viewing of Dancing With the Stars.

Play watching – reasons to be pretty at the Guthrie Theater, put on by Walking Shadow Theatre Company, is excellent. So is the Thai food across the street at Kindee.

But what’s on my mind tonight is fashion. The September issues of fashion magazines can be daunting – all those ads sandwiching maybe 20 pages of editorial about what we should wear this fall and into winter. I’ve hardly gotten through them and it’s nearly October and time for another round. Sitting down with the September issue of Vogue can feel like curling up with the Yellow Pages and reading it cover to cover. After an hour, it’s all a blur of layers, patterns, bright lipstick, smudged eyes and towering shoes.

Although I have little money to spend on Fashion this fall, I am going to overhaul my closet for the change of season. Do you do that too? It’s something my mom taught me to do – there would be the semi-annual switch from winter to spring/summer and then from spring/summer back to fall/winter. The out-of-season clothing gets stored away in bins or suitcases to wait its turn again. I certainly don’t want to look at it – there’s something unsettling about seeing your winter sweaters on a warm spring day or catching sight of your sundresses in January.

So, starting tomorrow, my closet becomes a darker, warmer place. And what should I fill it with?

Well, that depends. Culling through the fall magazines, here are the major trends they would like us all to be aware of:


Yes, you can still wear your cougar prints! Hooray! Zebra skin, alligator skin, leopard print, etc. all get the nod. But the bigger trend is to wear clothing with the entire animal represented on it. Big horse heads. Shoes that look like kitty cat faces on top. A zebra running across your t-shirt. A fox in your knitwear. I thought this would be played out already as this started showing up over a year ago but, apparently, it’s not. All the mags plus the Wall Street Journal have stories on it. (Have you ever checked out the style section in the WSJ? Not bad!) Except they only showcase things that cost a bazillion dollars because everyone who reads WSJ is rich, right?

But you don’t have to be super rich to embrace trends, if trends are your thing. Hit the thrift stores, where everyone has dumped their sweaters with big panther heads on them. Or, if you can’t take the time to dig, go to sites like ASOS and buy something more tasteful, like this Galloping Horse Print Shirt (I WANT.)

This brings us to our next trend, which is


I know. Fur sucks. But I’m into faux fur as long as it doesn’t look like a stuffie one drooled on when one was three. Fur is BIG this year, sad to say. Even the vintage clothing stores and antique stores have brushed off the tiny fox faces and put out the stolls. If I wore one of those things, it would quickly devolve into a comedy routine in which my fox serves as my conscience and I consult him on every decision. “Should we eat that sweet roll, Foxy?” “Do I deserve a new pair of shoes, Foxy?” “Was that man rude to us just now, Foxy?” Sort of like whatever is going on here:

Marie Claire ran an article in its September issue about fur in which it quoted the Fur Council of Canada as saying, “Fur is a natural, renewable and sustainable resource,” and that new trapping regulations have resulted in as many beavers, muskrats, raccoons, coyotes and foxes as there were when the Europeans first arrived on the continent. Canadian school children are leading beavers around on strings and playing tag with foxes, there are so many just overrunning the country!

Seriously? As many as when Europeans first arrived? Huh. At least everyone still seems to be in agreement that there aren’t as many Native Americans as when Europeans first arrived.

Anyway, if you’re in the market for a faux fur vest, this vest from Nordstrom’s is along the lines of what you want  to go for. Not so much this version from JC Penney (I’ve got nothing against JC but this looks too fakey and screams COUGAR SNOWMOBILE PARTY OVER HERE!).


Do it up Stevie Nicks style, yo! A lace shirt and a dress is suddenly a must-have. I actually do enjoy this shirt, if only because it is understated and black:

Lace Shirt from ASOS


I don’t love me in a hat, so I don’t think I’ll be embracing this trend except to keep myself warm when it’s 20 degrees outside. Thanks a lot, Kate-person-who-got-married-and-everyone-wore-a-hat-to-your-wedding-including-the-two-royal-sisters-who-remind-me-of-the-ugly-stepsisters-from-Cinderella. Besides wearing a vintage hat can seem awfully pretentious sometimes unless it’s for a hat party at which everyone else is also wearing a hat while standing around eating nachos.


Drop ’em, ladies. Just when you got your legs all toned up from kettlebells, pilates, yoga, what-have-you, it’s now in fashion to wear your hemline at your knees, minimum, and mid-calf or longer if you’re so cool it hurts. I’m kind of excited. How long has it been since I’ve heard something like this: “A covered-up silhouette feels more confident right now and definitely cooler.” – the Proenza Schouler designers. Was it back in 1918? Covered up is cooler? I can handle that. I did just find a sweet sequined mini-skirt at an antique store for $15 but as long as I wear tights and a tuxedo jacket with it, I think I’ll be forgiven.


Don’t look at me, I didn’t coin this phrase. Anything “ethnic” is hot for fall. Any kind of colorful print, anything with fringes, blanket coats, leather… basically, you want to look like you cut up a teepee and wrapped it around you. Or you just got back from your humanitarian work in Africa and, oh, look at this cute dress you found in the marketplace that happens to go with your Jimmy Choos. I don’t know why I’m sounding so bitter about it – I actually think all this stuff is pretty but I resent the prices they put on it. How many colorful beaded belts and bracelets have I seen over the years discarded at the thrift stores (you know those leather belts with someone’s name spelled out in them in a panel of seed beads – maybe I should start buying them and be “LISA” or “DIANE”)? People, I don’t even know what to collect anymore.

Poncho from Zara.com

Which brings me to a bigger point – if you aren’t someone who would normally embrace ethnic prints or wear a heavily fringed jacket, please don’t start now. It will just look wrong.

You know how sometimes you’ll buy a box of crackers and on the front it will have a photo of the crackers all doctored up with cheese and some nicely sliced fruit? And if you read the tiny print on the box next to the photo it will say “serving suggestion?” That’s all trends are. Serving suggestions. You can ponder them. Think about if you would like them. But you don’t have to do it! Just because they show a Triscuit with a slender cutting of cheddar and half of a grape doesn’t mean you’re required to eat them that way. If you want to eat them at all. Triscuits – gross!

And if you do go through with a trend (I’m talking trend, not a classic piece you can wear for years), you have to make it your own and not spend a ridiculous amount of money on it. Example – in Marie Claire (I don’t know why I keep picking on Marie Claire when Vogue and Elle provide just as much fodder) there was an article about buying one fall “investment” and then wearing it three ways. One “investment” was a huge t-shirt by Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci of a Rottweiler face. The t-shirt is $265. Apparently, one can wear it with shorts, with jeans and a tuxedo jacket (you do have your tuxedo jacket, don’t you?) or with leather pants.

This is the shirt:

Well, I don’t care what you pair it with, if I see you coming with that Rottweiler t-shirt for the fifth day in two weeks, I’m going to be over it. Poor investment. Why not hit a thrift store instead and buy a t-shirt with a big whale on it? Or a tiger? I could find you a whale t-shirt in 30 seconds, it will cost you a few bucks and you can style it just as well and then use it to scrub your toilet when you tire of it. And it will look cool, I promise. Or totally uncool, if that’s your goal.

I don’t want to end on a diatribe, so let me name another trend that’s easy to like.


If you don’t enjoy polka dots, you were born with a stone for a heart. Big polka dots, little ones. Mixed and matched ones. Polka-dotted pants. Dresses. Umbrellas. Pajamas. It will make you feel good.

As for me and my Closet Overhaul, here are some pieces I’ll be wearing this fall:
Knee-length, pleated skirts in bright purple and black
Velvet blazer in navy blue, purchased from vintage store in Oshkosh, WI
Men’s button-down shirts with patterns or texture, must be vintage and cotton. Think Tobias from Arrested Development. I nearly always want what he’s wearing in an episode. Except for those cut-offs.
Brown oxford shoes by Frye
Tights, tights, tights
Sequins, sequins, sequins. I’m like a crow attracted to shiny objects.
Boots in brown and black
Jeans – trouser cut (but let’s face it, the second I can get into “skinny” jeans, I’m going for it)
Black turtleneck sweater with long sleeves that come all the way past my wrists. Covered up is cooler.
Vintage dresses. I have a ton of them – Who needs to shop for “40s dresses” (another trend)?
Suede car coat with faux fur raccoon-ish collar and cuffs purchased from antique mall
Plastic and metal bangles going all up my arms like Nancy Cunard!

Now here's a woman who knows how to wear a bracelet or 20.

My investment piece is going to be a pair of well-made, tailored trousers that will go with anything and that I will wear until I’m 85.

I leave you with an image of a man who is not afraid to rock a fur coat:

It's OK! There are still lots of furry animals in Canada!