Dressing for Fall

ON HAPPINESS: HOW I’M COMBATING THE WINTER BLUES

As I write this it hovers around 35 degrees in New York City and while it’s a clear sky day, it will be dark in a mere 8 hours. For some people this probably means next to nothing.. but if you, like me, feel the winter blues acutely in your bones – this is the first real scare. The first shift in the winds and the clocks that says “I’m coming for you”.

The tricky part is that I truly love November and December – they’re filled with joy – holidays, traditions, decorations everywhere you turn in the city. Which is often why I’m tricked into thinking maybe I won’t feel the winter blues this year. But every year, like clockwork, January rolls around and I want to crawl out of my (very dry) skin and move to Mexico just to avoid one more single short, cold day. So this year – I’m getting a jump start and putting some simple practices in place so that by that time we’re in the real depth of winter I’m not just surviving.. but actually enjoying it.

One of the things I’ve noticed in winter is that it can be easy to sort of let yourself go. You’re engulfed in a huge puffer coat 90% of the time after all – why not just wear sweatpants underneath and go home and order takeout? But when I put on a real outfit, do my hair (even though it will just be smashed beneath a knit hat), keep up my workout routine and cook healthy meals at home – I feel a huge boost in mood. Today I’m getting my hair colored, I’ve been slowing adding a few new winter pieces to my wardrobe (like this cozy tweed dress that will be great with tights and a turtleneck beneath it) and I’m already in a good routine with working out that I plan on ramping up throughout winter. So far, so good.

The next thing is relationships. Spending quality time with Adam and making a point to trek out in the snow/ice/cold to see friends is always worth the effort. To that end, Adam and I just reinstated our “weeknight date” routine. It can be easy to fall into the pattern of holing up at home and watching TV.. so we plan to mix things up by having one mid-week date night that we take turns each week planning. Mine was this week and I planned an at home date of scrabble, spiked cider and playing records. It was so fun! Now even if I’m having a tough week, I’ll have something to look forward to halfway through. On the friend front – I joined a new book club this past week with the hopes of meeting some like-minded ladies and it was lovely. We’re all planning to go see the new Little Women movie when it comes out next month (that was the book of choice this round) and we’ll meet on the next book in January. Again – things to look forward to with people you enjoy is key!

Lastly, I’ve found that when I dedicate time to things that keep my mind sharp (again – it can be tempting to just binge watch netflix all winter.. but that seems to only add to my blues in the end) make a world of difference. That means reading as much as possible, pushing myself to try new things even if that’s just a new recipe and dusting off old hobbies like drawing or playing the piano – all make me feel great and are perfect for when it’s dark and cold out. Adam recently declared that we should get rid of the desk in our bedroom and replace it with an upright piano for me and I think he may really be onto something. By which I mean, he too is scared of my winter mood. Ha.

And if all else fails – we’re planning a warm weather getaway come March.

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ON CAREER: DRESSING THE PART

Earlier this year I moved in to a management role at my company. And while we have a super flexible “creative casual” type dress code, suddenly I found myself looking down at my beat up converse sneakers and thinking that I didn’t look like I passed for anyone’s “boss”.

Part of me still feels like a girl who should be running around the city in mini skirts. Part of me doesn’t feel qualified to be the boss. But the reality is that I’m a 32 year old woman who has 5 people that report to her. And while I don’t think anyone in the office probably gave it a second thought, my split ends and old sneakers weren’t exactly helping me build confidence in my new role.

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So last week I made a conscious shift. I chopped off the ends of my hair and dug through my closet for all of the nice clothes I actually own. I started planning my outfits the night before so in the morning’s I don’t fall back on grabbing a pair of jeans and running for the door. And I feel so much better already. Instead of feeling like I was giving up the old me… I feel like a slightly new and improved version of myself. Still feminine and a little bit playful but sleeker, more “grown-up”.

Dress for the job you want right? Or at the very least, for the one you have. And don’t worry, I’ll still be running around the city in miniskirts and converse… I’ll just save it for the weekends now.

Anthropologie Sweater via Nuuly Subscription | Franco Sarto Loafers | French Connection Slip Skirt c/o | Dagne Dover Bag c/o – similar here

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STYLE IN SUPPORT OF WOMEN + BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

Every 2 minutes someone is handed a breast cancer diagnosis. It’s likely been someone you know. It’s been my late Grandmother and my late Aunt. And while there are so many causes worth supporting these days (it honestly can be a little overwhelming), breast cancer remains one that’s close to my heart. And if there’s an easy way to make even a small contribution towards the fight to end this disease, I’m all for it.

To that end, I’m so proud to be teaming up with Talbots again this year for their Art of the Scarf campaign. These limited edition silk scarves, with 6 unique designs all by incredible female artists, are on sale through the end of October with 20% of the proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen foundation. I picked the scarf by illustrator Libby Vanderploeg – who I’ve actually been a fan of for awhile now. I love the imagery of a diverse array of women all helping one another climb up the stairs.

I think there’s this dialogue in our culture that pits women against each other a lot of the time. Teaches us to be fearful of mean girls and that we have to fight our way to the top (implying, rightly or not, that there just aren’t as many places for women up there). I had a teacher in college that told me when I got my first job in fashion “my boss would love me, my co-workers would hate me” – because I did really thorough work. In fashion, my co-workers were bound to be 90% women. And I think I entered into my career with that in mind. My guard up. Turns out – at every job I’ve been grateful to find amazing female mentors that were above my position who were willing to help guide me and lead by example. Essentially pulling me up the stairs with them. I can only hope that as I advance in my career I have the chance to reach back for someone else’s hand that’s a little further down the steps.

And if we all get up the top and there’s not enough space for us? Well, we’ll make room. We’re women, we’re clever that way.

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FALL CAPSULE WARDROBE WITH TALBOTS

I’ve been talking a lot this year about the value in having less quantity in your wardrobe and more quality. I think it’s something a lot of us are craving these days after years of being fed more, more, more. When I thought about how I wanted to approach fall shopping (typically the season I shop the most), I knew I wanted to do things a little bit differently. Filling in with only key pieces and finding ways to mix and match them with the classic items that I already own and love.

Last week I showcased a few stand-out pieces from the new Talbots collection in this post (a pink corduroy blazer, a plaid overcoat and a floral midi dress) and while I love the looks we shot in Central Park – I already know that I’m going to be wearing each of these pieces in a million different ways this season. To emphasize just how far a new piece or two can go – I put together a fun little IGTV video showing 10 outfit ideas and below – details on each. 

My hope is that this helps you find a few new outfits in your existing wardrobe or inspires you to pick up a new item and get lots of wear out of it this fall (and beyond). 

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A FALL ROMANCE WITH TALBOTS

There is something about that first chill in the air nipping at your ankles, that golden light flickering through trees that are about to put on a show, these waning days that feels endlessly romantic to me. And if classic New York romance is what you’re seeking (and I always am), there’s nowhere that delivers on that promise more than Central Park. And if you can catch it when it’s quiet, you’ll be hard pressed not to fall in love. 10 years in this city and when I see the glimmer of the sailboat pond on a crisp morning or the sweeping stairs at Bethesda Fountain, it still pulls at my heartstrings.

The Fall Romance collection from Talbots was a perfect match for the occasion – with rich textures like cashmere and silk paired with classic paisley and plaid, plus saturated hues of rose, burgundy and teal, these pieces give me that same swoon. I took them for a spin this past week and just want to live in these photos (and these outfits) for the rest of Autumn.

P.S. Can you spot the sweet older couple across the fountain? They get it.

SHOP LOOK #1:

I’d argue that romance doesn’t have to involve meeting the love of your life. This time of year always makes me want to reignite passions in every area of my life – pick back up piano lessons, find new recipes to cook, travel to a new city and fall in love with a new place. Also, arguably a very good time to shake up your wardrobe and try something out you may have never considered. Might I suggest the softest corduroy blazer in the sweetest shade of rose. A little bit retro, but very much modern – I can’t tell you how excited I am to wear this piece all Autumn long.

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Of course, nothing rivals the romance of a great dress. Doesn’t it just feel like anything can happen in a great dress? This one fits like a dream and hits the moody floral trend just right. Paired with dusty rose shades (and golden hour light if you can catch it) the look is sweet but still sophisticated. Here’s hoping for a date night or two in my future. And if the love of my life isn’t free.. there’s always New York.

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*Thank you to Talbots for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are completely my own.

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The Steele Maiden © 2012

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.