Fall has well and truly arrived in New England, and while I am not a person who plays favorites with seasons -- I love them all for different reasons -- I do have a strong preference for fall clothing, because dressing in layers is my jam. Like a warm but not overburdened cake.
Growing up in South Florida meant that my formative fashion years were season-free, and so I never realized there were sort of unspoken expectations about certain fabrics and patterns in places where cold means something more than, “It was 67 degrees this morning, BRRR.” As much as I loathe fashion rules of any kind, I’ve still found myself internalizing certain ideas, like the fact that I live in gingham dresses all summer long, but once Labor Day is past, they feel inappropriate and I usually don’t touch them again until the following May. In the same way, I’ve come to associate plaids with fall.
I usually have a love/hate relationship with plaid. Part of this is probably owing to the fact that I spent every weekday of my high school years wearing a navy and green tartan Catholic school skirt, and while I actually kind of loved my uniform, it might have filled up my lifetime plaid quota a little prematurely. But maybe enough time has finally passed, because this fall, I’m feeling an intense plaid need.
(Aside: all this plaid pondering reminded me that there was a period in my preteen years when my mom was way into Talbots, and my mom has always been a style icon to me, in spite of our styles being very different. I did a lot of shopping with her in the plaid factory that was Talbots when I was in my early teens, including the purchasing and wearing of one of those big cardigans with intarsia riding tackle knitted into it. Y’know, straps and bridles and stirrups and gold buckles? Kind of like a Christmas sweater, but for horse-obsessed non-equestrians who go to the mall a lot. I wore it too. All the time.)
This is a little more prim and prepster than I usually like. Ten years ago I would have covered it in safety pins and patches, but I’m really digging it as-is at the moment. This is the dress I’m wearing in the photo above, for reference. Until I can find an actual proper red plaid pinafore I’ve been hunting for -- and IT WILL HAPPEN eventually, like how I just finally located the acid-washed denim vest I’ve been wanting for a year (shut up) -- this dress is a worthy alternative.
Colorblocking is the fashion scourge of our time. ESPECIALLY for plus sizes. And it’s not even that colorblocking itself is terrible, but that it is so omnipresent and often unnecessary that it has started to read like some kind of cultural conspiracy of mind-control “slimming” propaganda, like in that movie with the aliens that can only be seen by Rowdy Roddy Piper when he puts on those special sunglasses.
I don’t want to encourage the alien colorblocking takeover. So it is with enormous regret that I have to admit I think it works here.
Hey, let’s hop in your Mercury Capri and listen to Alanis Morrissette and talk about how ironic everything is on our way to the mall to see if Wild Pair has gotten any new Doc Martens in stock.
I can’t wear a shift to save my life. No really, if someone came up to me and menaced me with a weapon and told me to put on a shift dress and make it look good, I would shake my head in sad resignation and tell them to save us both the trouble and just kill me now. I need things to have either a defined waist or an exaggerated a-line shape; while I love the way boxier straight cuts look on other people, it’s not a style that I enjoy on my particular body (although this is not to say that people with similar bodies to mine can’t wear shift dresses -- you wear what you like, cowgirl, and damn those prescriptive style rules).
Anyway, some of you should wear some cute plaid shifts in my stead.
SEE HOW CUTE? This is like punching myself in my own face. Add opaque tights and you’re the most adorable vaguely mod thing on the planet.
Oh hey, I found your Rayanne Graff Halloween costume. It’s at ASOS.
Oh hey, I found your Nancy-In-The-Craft Halloween costume. It’s at Domino Dollhouse.
And sometimes you want something a little more retro than “twenty years ago.” (I actually typed “ten years ago” the first time, which is super embarrassing and I am old.) eShakti is always good for midcentury-inspired dresses, and this sweetheart-necklined full-skirted plaid frock is a brilliant example of what they do so well. I love this dress so much I’m probably going to go order it now before you vultures put it out of stock.
So: Are you feeling the plaid love this fall?