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What to Wear When the Calendar Says Fall but it Feels Like Summer

My Jewish readers know the drill. Are the High Holidays early this year? Or late? It’s always a question, year after year. Because unlike Christmas that falls on December 25 every single year, the Jewish calendar is lunar. So our major holidays are always changing. For instance, in 2016, Rosh Hashanah began on October 2, and Hanukkah was on December 24. This year Rosh Hashanah falls on LABOR DAY!! Like, the actual Monday of Labor Day, AKA the official end of summer. According to some outdated fashion rule, it’s also the day you have to stop wearing white clothing (until the next summer, marked by Memorial Day). Just as an aside, I think that rule is total rubbish and you do not need to follow it. But that’s probably more for another column.

Anyway, Rosh Hashanna, for me, marks the beginning of autumn. It’s the big fall kick-off. The Jewish holiday version of the September issue of Vogue. In fact, as a girl, when my mom would take me on our annual back-to-school clothes shopping outing (because back then it was a good thing to outgrow your clothes each year – at my age now, not so much!) One of the most important items to check off the list was a new Rosh Hashanah outfit. 

Rosh Hashanah Usually Means Fall Clothes

Normally, my New Year’s outfit (Rosh Hashanah is considered the Jewish New Year) would be in a fabric or color that felt like fall – think wool, corduroy, or velvet and in colors like brown, camel, or burgundy. Nice rich colors and fabrics that are on point for colder weather. The same way there are distinct foods one associates with certain holidays that make it “feel” like that occasion, so too with specific garments.

I vividly remember the feeling of wearing my new outfit to every Rosh Hashanna family dinner and then to synagogue. And then I’d wear it again for the school holiday concert and any other colder weather events we had. Until, of course, it was time to shop for my new spring outfit (this time it was for Passover).

This shopping ritual to mark important milestones is not just a “Jewish thing.”  My Christian friends had similar seasonal shopping experiences. However, their touchstone holidays were usually Christmas and Easter. Ya know, same song, different tunes.

But, It’s Labor Day!

But this year, with Rosh Hashanah landing literally on Labor Day – a day I think of as reserved for pool parties and backyard BBQ’s – it’s throwing the whole what-to-wear, fall-debut, thing off. Big Time. Personally, as much as I might sacrifice comfort for fashion on occasion, wearing wool tweed when it’s 80 degrees outside is a definite NO in my book. Honestly, I’m sweating just thinking about it.

So the big question is what are we to wear for Rosh Hashanah 2021? The answer: something that’s covered but lightweight. Breathable for outside but can keep you warm in the air-conditioned synagogues. And is on the more modest side, because, let’s be honest, what we wear to a  house of worship should be slightly more conservative than what you’d wear to a club.

Ok, so let’s chat about how to ring in fall and the new year (this year it’s going to be 5782!!) and not melt…

And, BTW, this styling tip is not only for my Jewish readers… there are all kinds of events (work-related, family festivities) that happen when we think it’s autumn, but the thermometer says otherwise. This type of transitional dressing works really well for fall and for spring – the times when it’s usually the hardest to get dressed.

White Blazers for the WIN

Do you know how some people are bag girls? And others shoe addicts? Well, I consider myself more of a jacket junkie. In other words, I love me a great jacket, or any topper actually. It’s the third piece that really finishes an outfit. And my white blazer is on heavy rotation right now. 

And this season, my most worn wardrobe addition is my white blazer. There’s something about it that makes even my oldest and most repeated outfits feel fresh and new. Therefore, it’s my newest wardrobe MVP.

Really, you can wear a white blazer the same way you’d wear a black blazer. But in the hot summer months, it feels more seasonally appropriate. And even in the spring and fall, a white blazer gives an extra dose of polish to an outfit.

A few things to look for in a white blazer…

Another Easy Outfit Formula

The feedback I’m receiving from all of you, dear readers (did you catch the Bridgerton allusion there?) is that you LOVE these fashion rules! And I couldn’t be happier! However, there is a chance I may eventually run out of formulas to share. But until that time comes, I’ll keep cranking them out as fast as my mind can process.

The truth is that these fashion rules are somewhat intuitive to me. They’re second nature. I see the various elements of an outfit and what needs to be added or taken away. I don’t think a lot about it; it just IS until I’m working with a client and need to step back and explain. 

When I take that step back, out of my very active brain (it works kind of like a slot machine as I’m searching for outfit combos – a great outfit is like three cherries) and simplify the steps or reasons, I’m able to create the rules. No, I’m not saying this is fashion for dummies (I hate that name, it’s so condescending) – but the breakdown often makes it easier to digest. 

Dressing is Just an Optical Illusion

As I’ve said before and will probably repeat a zillion times, dressing is the ultimate optical illusion. No one, NO ONE, not even Jennifer Aniston, has a perfect figure. But what people that seem to have an ideal figure do, is use clothes to their advantage to create the appearance of balance and proportion.

These outfit formulas are the foundations for creating visual harmony and making most looks work. They’re the infrastructure of the ensemble. Once these basic formulas feel comfortable, and if you’re in the mood to step it up, you can build upon them to make outfits even more multifaceted and exciting.

When working with clients, I often refer to outfits as mild, medium, and spicy. The same elements and ingredients apply – but just like in a recipe, you are more heavy handed with some aspects if you want to get really spicy. The 2 out of 3 rule is a foundational outfit formula. Consider it mild in the clothing/food analogy. But once this principle is mastered, it’s easy-peasy to add some spice.

A Perfect White Tee, Basic, But Hard to Find.

It’s funny that something as seemingly basic as a perfect white tee could be that hard to find. But it is!! Of the thousands of women I’ve styled over the past 15 years, it’s always on their list and always elusive. It’s a holy grail of the closet kind of item.

Keep the White Tee’s White

The good and the bad of white tee’s is that they need to be replaced fairly often. The simplicity and crispness of white is why it’s such a wardrobe staple. But when your white tee becomes stained or yellow, it’s gotta go.  I recommend replacing them every few years depending on how often they’re worn. And how sloppy an eater you are (spills down the front are totally my nemesis) or how much you sweat (yellow pit stains, anyone?). My hypothesis is that the need to replace them is part of what feeds the perpetual hunt.

What Makes a Perfect White Tee?

And btw, what makes a white tee PERFECT changes and evolves over time…

Joie dark floral wrap top - The Wardrobe Consultant

Dark Florals for Fall (and Winter)

Typically we think of florals as a spring and summer kinda thing. But right now, moody, dark florals are having their moment. And for good reason…They’re probably the most versatile piece you can own. Adding a dark floral to your wardrobe is an instant and easy update.

A dark floral can span the seasons – you can wear it 12 months a year
Even though florals are typically romantic, with a dark background they become moody and edgy
They don’t show dirt and stains as easily as light florals
You can wear a dark floral if you’re 15 or 55 or even 85 – it’s ageless.
Dark florals are showing up in dresses and tops and shoes and home goods – there’s a little something for everyone
Runway designers and fast fashion alike are showing dark florals so you can find it at every price point
A Totally Versatile Piece

A dark floral is easy to transition from summer to fall to winter and then to spring. Probably because it’s so fun to layer and with the change of shoes and a topper it can go from June to January and morning til night.

The Lifecycle Of my Dark Floral Dress…

Vince floral midi skirt set

The Midi Skirt Length is EVERYWHERE This Season

Back in our grandmother’s day, there was yearly fodder about the skirt length of the season. Miniskirt, knee-length,  tea-length or midi skirt, floor-length. Hemlines went up and down year to year. In fact, there’s even an economic “theory” from the 1930s called the “The Skirt Length Index”. It basically correlates highs and lows in the stock market to the hemlines that were in style at the time.

In recent years skirt lengths have been more varied. Perhaps even more personalized. There wasn’t one style or length that was totally in or totally out. It depended more on how it looked on the wearer and the appropriateness for where it was being worn.  This year, however, the midi length for both skirts and dresses has been gaining a huge following.

Kind of like the name suggests a midi skirt is a length that falls in between a mini skirt (short) and a maxi skirt (long). Falling midway down your calf between your knee and ankle.

What body shape does the midi skirt look good on?

Happily, this style flatters every body shape, size, style and age making it universally flattering. Why? Because the midi skirt visually makes your waist appear slimmer and hugs the curves on your lower half in a good way.

For us ladies of a certain age, this style gets bonus points because it hides pasty white legs, varicose veins, and droopy knees too.

Even though it looks good on everyone, making an outfit that flatters with a midi skirt can be a challenge. Finding the right top or shoe to pair can be hard. It can look frumpy or little girly if you’re not careful. Here are some helpful rules to assist in making it work.

puffed sleeve sweatshirt the great

Making the Case for Ruffle and Puffed Sleeve Tops

After my army green pants post a few months back, I received a lot of client requests about what to wear with said pants. My favorite pairing is a ruffle or puffed sleeve top. But I’ve found there’s a lot of hesitation surrounding this style.  In fact, it was the text conversation with a long-time client that prompted me to write this post… I’ve included excerpts at the bottom of this post.

Why am I’m a huge fan of tops with ruffles and/or puffed sleeves? Well, a few reasons…

1. The ruffles and puffs add a feminine flair that counterbalances the workwear (like manual work, not 9-5 work), vibe of the pants.
2. Sleeve and shoulder details were all over the runways and it’s an easy way to add interest to an outfit and make it feel current
3. A shoulder detail is much easier to wear than a bell sleeve detail. i.e. the puffed sleeve won’t get stuck in your soup when out for dinner.
4. Adding ruffles or a puffed sleeve visually balances your top and bottom when wearing a slouchy or wider bottom pant.

It’s NOT Too Cute

Some women, especially the over 40 crowd, have expressed concern that the ruffle/ puffed sleeve look is just too cutesie. And they feel they’ve aged out of the look. Let me start by saying I LOVE when a woman is aware of age-appropriate dressing. It’s refreshing and the self-awareness is applauded. We’ve all seen the mom with the rocking bod swapping clothes with her teenage daughter, and frankly, it’s kind of uncomfortable for everyone. Just because you can wear it, does not mean you should… But I digress.

On the flip side, I encounter many women that unnecessarily age themselves with their clothing because they don’t want to look like that mom in the crop top and ripped jeans. A ruffled top is one of those pieces that can skew young or sophisticated and feminine depending on how you style it.

How to Know What Color Cami to Wear with a White or Cream Top.

In the midst of all the holiday shopping guide frenzies, this might seem like an odd topic to be posting about, but it’s a question that comes up again and again.  The big question…What color cami (or camisole) to wear under a light color top? And for clients, it’s often one of those Oprah “AH HA” moments when they find out the answer, and then realize it totally makes sense as to why their outfits always felt a little off…

If you’re wearing a white or cream color top that needs a cami under for see-thru reasons, you’d think the cami should match the top, right? So you’d choose to wear a cream, white, or nude cami so it will blend.  BUT, and here’s the BUT… What happens when you match a white cami to a white top is that when it’s tucked into your bottoms,  you see a weird line where the waistband of the pant meets the tucked in cami. (Just like Hallie in the picture above.)  That disturbs the visually elongating line most of us are going for in the whole “dressing is an optical illusion thing”.

What’s the Answer??

There are 2 simple answers!!

We’re running this post early because the Banana Republic Sale ENDS NOVEMBER 6 at MIDNIGHT!!

Yes, I know this is delivering to your inbox Sunday instead of Tuesday. But for good reason. FIRST,  to remind you to make sure you go out and VOTE on Tuesday!! Because your vote counts!!! And apathy ain’t gonna make any changes happen, and we need change! SO PLEASE VOTE! And second,  to reward yourself for fulfilling your civic duty with a little online sale shopping at Banana Republic, sounds like a really good plan, right??? BTW, the sale ends Tuesday at Midnight – so get on it!

You might be thinking, Banana Republic? Really? That store feels like a great place to shop for work clothes but I need…    But  I think most of you, like most of our clients, want pieces in their wardrobes that can serve multiple purposes. Like a blouse, you can wear to the office, or a volunteer meeting but then also wear out on a Saturday night too. And that’s what we’ve found at Banana Republic and it’s all on crazy sale AND it comes in petite and tall sizes too. So, YOU ARE WELCOME!!