Dressing for Fall

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). 

SHOP THE HERO PIECES:

SHOP THE BASICS:

SHOP THE ACCESSORIES:

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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.

SHOP LOOK #2:

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.

SHOP LOOK #3:

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

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ON BODY IMAGE: THE COMPARISON FACTOR

I noticed an interesting mental shift recently. After we took these photos this past weekend I didn’t really like them. For the usual vain reasons we’ve all thought before (like my face was puffy from not enough water or sleep, the sweater looked too bulky to be tucked into this miniskirt). Too much, not enough. Blah, blah, blah.

But then it struck me that I was comparing how I looked in these photos to a better version of myself. One that was maybe younger. Or thinner. And that’s major. You know why?

Because it means I am no longer comparing myself to anyone else’s body. And I realize I really haven’t been in quite some time. I no longer feel anything when I scroll past the glamazons of Instagram. I don’t silently sulk ‘I wish I had her legs’ or cheekbones or arms. Somewhere around 30 I kind of stopped wishing for a mythical body that I wasn’t born into and hadn’t even realized the seismic shift of that.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Wishing for your own legs at 25 as opposed to a stranger’s is likely just as delusional. You can’t turn back time any more than you can teleport into someone else’s skin. And as someone who has ample photographic evidence of what she looked like in outfits at 26-32 thanks to this blog.. it’s an easy rabbit hole to dive down.

But – in general it’s nice to only be in competition with myself these days. It’s nice to think – I was so strong and fit then, I’d like to work towards that again. It’s also nice to look at a photo of myself at 28 and think – oh hey you looked pretty good – even though I can remember that I didn’t always feel that way then. Which helps remind me that I better embrace the look of 32 because at 38 I’ll wish for this. You see the trend?

Gravity waits for no woman. But if it’s kinder to the woman next door, that’s none of my concern anymore.

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MY FALL FASHION SHOPPING STRATEGY

A couple of weeks ago I published my first post about the topic of money (one I’m excited to talk more about!) – and it was all about how I set myself up for financial health and changed my money mindset. Well, if there was ever a time to test my own willpower – it’s the fall fashion season. I blame it on the fact that as a kid the only real “shopping spree” I ever got to go on was for back to school, when my Mom would take my sister and I to pick out a new pair of jeans, new shoes and a few other new novelty items before the school year started – and it felt like SUCH a treat. Flash forward to being an adult, the onslaught of new arrivals, magazine’s September issues and the fact that I just truly love fall clothes.. and it can be really hard to stay on track. This year, I was determined to do things differently though. And so I came up with a strategy.

Rule One: Don’t buy anything in July. Or August for that matter. If you haven’t unpacked your sweaters from storage, it can be really easy to forget that you do in fact already own an oversized cream cardigan and before you know it, you’ve bought a second one. Last week, I dutifully flipped my closet and found myself excited about all of my favorites that I already own and get to wear again this season. While you’re doing this, think about which pieces you wore most last year. If it was crewneck sweaters, maybe you could use a new one to add to the rotation. If you remember feeling like you never had any cute blouses to wear to work, keep that in mind as you shop.

Rule Two: Make a good old fashioned moodboard. Or a Pinterest board. Or hit save on Instagram. Back in high school, I used to pour over magazines and whittle down the one or two key pieces that I could buy into (on a budget) – maybe it was one cool pair of boots or a particular handbag silhouette – and the rest I would try to find in my own closet. I started doing this again and SO many of the looks I was seeing in my inbox or on Instagram, I could nearly recreate with pieces I already owned. I just had to ignore the shiny new version. Below are looks from Veronica Beard, Sezane and Reiss that I loved.

Rule Three: Make a list. Write out the things you still really have your heart set on, and be specific. You’ll be able to see that three pairs of ankle boots are on the list.. and can clearly cut back. Or the fact that three fancy dresses are on there, but you end up in jeans and a t-shirt everyday and you work from home.. so maybe re-think that. Note the prices and estimate a rough cost per wear (a $40 trendy sweater you’ll wear 2 times has a $20cpw while a $140 camel cashmere sweater you’ll wear 40 times this fall has a $3.50cpw). While it’s nice to add a couple of fun things into the mix to refresh your existing wardrobe, be realistic about what you feel comfortable in and where you want to put your money.

Now the fun part – shop for the things left on your list. I mean, wait for sales.. but then, you know, go for it. Below – the things I’m spending on this season and why:

  1. Plaid Miniskirt – In the past ten years I’d say consistently the item I wear most in fall is a plaid miniskirt. To work with tights and a button down shirt, for a date night with over the knee boots or casually with sneakers and a crewneck sweater. It’s my signature style. I love this one with the hits of green and know I’ll get tons of wear out of it.
  2. Patent Leather Loafers – I had a pair of black patent ankle boots and black patent leather flats that I literally wore to shreds over the past three years and finally had to toss them both. This feels like a hybrid. I tried on in store to be sure they passed the ‘walk to work’ test too.
  3. Simple Cardigan – I eyed this fluffy cardigan ALL of last fall and winter and didn’t pull the trigger but this year I’m doing it. I love that you can wear it with the buttons in front or back, all buttoned up or off the shoulder for a cool, undone look. So simple, so chic.
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The Steele Maiden © 2012

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.