Does “autumn” really mean anything in Oakland? Despite the tingles of excitement I get every year as we enter the spookiest season, most of my oversized, floppy sweaters remain in storage under my bed, I haven’t stepped on a SINGLE crunchy leaf yet, and yesterday I got a fucking sunburn. Fall as I know it mostly exists inside my head, where I daydream about chlorophyl-starved leaves and perfectly crisp mornings.
Fall as I actually experience it? A couple of nice weeks in November before mild, sloppy winter sets in, sandwiched right after the dry, hot October weather we always get. Phooey, I say!
So how’s a lady supposed to get revved up for autumn, season of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and my birthday? (I only used the last two to comply with the rule of threes. Thanksgiving is but an excuse for various relatives to make fun of my Tofurky, and my birthday is but another reminder of the transience of life and the panic of our inevitable return to dust.)
If autumn won’t come to me, I’ll make it feel like autumn with the power of FASHION.
1) Plaid, Tartan, Anything People on Outlander Would Wear
There’s a show on television right now called Outlander and it involves very sexy Scottish people in olde-tymey Scottish clothing. This is the extent of my knowledge, so Outlander obsessives feel free to correct me on the fine print, but the main point here is that plaids and tartans are HOT again. As a part-Scottish person, I don’t believe plaids were ever NOT hot.
So here’s a favorite skirt of mine (if every skirt came with pockets I’d be happier than a kid trapped in a candy store overnight):
Yeah, yeah, I need to buy an iron. I KNOW.
Skirts of this shape have to be paired with a slim-fitting, tuck-in-able shirt, or you might end up looking like a sloppy walking column of fabric. If this is the look you’re going for, do your thing.
You can’t just throw on a mustard cardigan and call it a day. Autumn calls for a special sass to your cardigan game: the sweater clip.
You might never have seen one of these practical and stylish little doohickeys unless you have a grandma whose wardrobe never evolved past the 70s, or if you have an eagle-eye for accessories on Mad Men. For me, it was the latter:
Meredith, best secretary in that whole goddamn company. Not necessarily a style icon, but she has great sweater clips.
I love the idea of casually draping cardigans across my shoulders to find that perfect “in-between summer and winter” zone, but unless you stand very still, they tend to fall off.
And that’s where sweater clips save the day. Goddess bless you, sweater clips.
(And yeah, that poor clip is hanging on for dear life to that teeny, tight cardigan.
“I’m doing the best I can, Liz, but you shouldn’t have put this cardigan in the drier! It’s like a sweater for a life-size Barbie!” cries Clippy, but I have no mercy: “You shut your mouth, you clinking, clanking, clattering collection of collagenous junk! And don’t you dare let go!”)
(Alternate joke idea: Something something “I’ll never let go, Jack” something.)
The leaves on the ground right now are soft, brownish, and underwhelming, but the leaves dangling from my lobes are awesome.
I scored these for $2 at the Goodwill store on Lakeshore Ave (I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it otherwise, unless you’re the kind of person who enjoys using metal detectors in parks. Probably the same success rate.)
Once you start wearing leaves on your person, why not go all the way with the full tree?
These were a gift from my sweet mother when we went to a family wedding in Portland last summer. Yeah, this was a second entirely unhelpful aside. You’ll just have to forge your own path to botanical earring greatness! Teach a woman to fish, etc etc.
5) Indulge Your Inner School Teacher
In many ways, I consider Ms. Frizzle
my fashion icon. She was never afraid to dress to a theme, no matter the situation, and I take that to heart around the holidays. Christmas is, of course, where my inner elementary librarian can take wing in the form of brooches and themed cardigans, but autumn is runner-up when it comes to delightfully gauche accessories.
Let’s take a closer look at those leggings:
Haters can step to the left: candy corn is DELICIOUS.
The only sad thing about those tights is that I can only wear them for one month every year. Same goes for these earrings, a cherished souvenir from a now-closed pumpkin patch that my mother and I would faithfully pilgrimage to every year, long after I was too old to cling to childhood traditions:
The half-turban wrap is terrific for covering hair too dirty for even dry shampoo to revive, and adds a little 40’s flair.
The weather report for this weekend predicts highs of 70, and as hard as I try I can’t find a good place to apple-pick around here. But fall lives on in my wardrobe, and in my heart. As long as your wardrobe has some shades of goldenrod and rust, some novelty jewelry, cozy tweed, and an imagination, fall can live in your heart too. Happy autumn, you beautiful schmucks.