The Style Rules Keeping Me Sane This Fall

Turns out my mom already taught me everything I need to know.
Publish date:
October 1, 2013
clothes, shopping

Fall is officially here! So…what are you going to wear to it? Yeah, I have no clue either.

And I like this time of year. It’s my favorite season, actually. I’m often singing the praises of autumn’s promise of fresh starts and newness. If only my fall wardrobe would stay on message.

It’s not as though my closet is some "Hoarders"-style crapshoot. I have some good staples from the checklist in there -- LBDs, tailored skirts, cashmere, smart-cut dark denim, white button-down shirt, varied leather pumps, knee boots -- timeless pieces that have saved me many, many times from having to run to the shops with every invite and event.

Just last weekend, I went to a lovely wedding in the Dallas heat without an ounce of pre-packing agita around what to wear. I had four solid options hanging in the hall cedar closet. I kind of felt celeb-fab going in there and just pulling looks from my “fashion closet.”

OK, it took some willing suspension of disbelief, and there was no stylist shoving designer labels and jewels at me...but life felt easy and privileged for about 10 minutes. Let it play, man.

The point is, I’m not completely fashion senseless. No ambush makeover needed here. The challenge, though, is assessing what other things I could add to the current collection to step my whole game up this fall. I’m talking pieces that make sense for my writer/home office/mama life.

Because I can tell you what I’m not going to do: rock sky-high, fly pumps and an eggshell, wool pant with a brandy brown lightweight leather jacket to the grand opening of -- what -- my son’s cheddar bunnies pouch? To the official reading of my editor’s emailed notes at my desk, after starting another load in the washer? That’s a "no" from me.

Practical, stylish, effortless, that’s what I’m looking for this season, but I’m a little lost about where to find it. Forget the fashion bibles and blogs. Translating what’s coming down the catwalk into clothing that can be worn in my real life is not something I have a ton of time for anymore. Look, I just want to pick up a few new tops and bottoms and maybe a pocketbook that make me feel warm and good wearing them.

And the trends — no matter how bedazzled, cropped, drop-crotched, crocheted, puffy shirted or absurd (hey there, sneaker wedges) — have been driving the train, while driving us all a little mad as well. The number of times I’ve pulled something out of the storage stack, while making the seasonal clothing switcheroo, and wondered if this is what feels like to wake from a brief soap opera-style coma with amnesia. Why? How? What? Who am I?

Then I think about my mum’s closet. And that's where the style rules that will end up keeping me sane come in.

Growing up, she was a definite style icon for me. The lady was always ready for every season, fashion-wise. She knew what worked for her body, and was completely fine with the host of things that didn’t. There was no squeezing herself into the too-short or too-long or too-young thing skimming the mannequin’s body in the window display. My mum bought classic clothing, with a few trendy pieces mixed in for accent. (Oh, indeed, shoulder pads factor in here.)

For her, it wasn’t just, “Does this skit/shirt/jacket fit me,” but more, “Does it fit my lifestyle?” It was the unspoken one of her style rules: Work with what works for you.

As I start plotting my strategic fall closet fix, I’m keeping my mother’s advice and influence on the front burner. Her other two rules are equally straight-forward and easy to follow: Always wear quality, supportive undergarments. And rock fabulous shoes. See? Already feeling confident about waking up my wardrobe and the oatmeal cookie I just ate while writing this. Body love.

Best part is, I’m not feeling so anxious about building out my fall wardrobe this time around. So this weekend when I do the seasonal clothes switchover, I’ll have an actual plan, some structure and fresh fashion ideas to sow.

What are you buying for fall? What are your hard and fast style rules?