Per­fect day Carolyn Moore’s love let­ter to Au­tumn

Carolyn Moore pays trib­ute to her favourite sea­son for fash­ion in Ire­land

Irish Examiner - Magazine - - Contents -

As the ubiq­ui­tous In­sta­gram quote goes: “Sum­mer. Hair gets lighter. Skin gets darker. Wa­ter gets warmer. Drinks get colder. Mu­sic gets louder. Nights get longer. Life gets bet­ter.” I’m not sure whose ver­sion of sum­mer this is, but I’m pretty sure they don’t live in Ire­land, where sum­mer is ba­si­cally win­ter with slightly higher tem­per­a­tures.

My take on sum­mer is a lit­tle less ide­alised and not so In­sta­gram-wor­thy. Hair gets un­man­age­able. Skin gets patchy pig­men­ta­tion. Wa­ter keeps fall­ing from the sky. Nights get freez­ing. I don’t know what to wear. Be­cause fash­ion gets ridicu­lous.

I’ve been avoid­ing shop­ping for months in fact. Search­ing for some­thing to wear to an event in June, I wound up vent­ing my frus­tra­tion on so­cial me­dia. “Why can’t sum­mer clothes just be like reg­u­lar clothes, only slightly less warm?” I de­spaired. “Why do they need pom­poms, and cut outs, and ques­tion­able dye ap­pli­ca­tions?” It’s as if de­sign­ers have been tasked with mak­ing them as ridicu­lous and im­prac­ti­cal as pos­si­ble. Wan­der­ing the high street, you can’t but be struck by the fact that sum­mer clothes are gen­er­ally ill-con­ceived, ill-suited to the ac­tual weather, and of­ten a has­sle to wear. Skirts too short for mot­tled bare legs, shirts that would be per­fect for the of­fice if they weren’t in­ex­pli­ca­bly back­less. “Lovely dress,” you’ll wind up think­ing, “but am I sup­posed to freeze to death?” “Those shoes will need a pedi­cure”, “Will that shoul­der­less top ac­tu­ally stay up?”, “Do I own a strap­less bra?”, “Can I wear a bra with that?”, “Does any­one look good in acid yel­low?”, “What am I, five?”, “What am I, Ke­sha?”, and, “Re­ally? Uni­corns?” All gen­uine ob­ser­va­tions from the front line of fash­ion this sum­mer, which seems to have been de­signed for a girl who lives in that afore­men­tioned In­sta­gram quote and en­joys a guar­an­teed 60-day stretch of rain-free weather. Sum­mer fash­ion has been hi­jacked by a 25-year-old Coachella-goer who’ll never re­gret buy­ing faux fur pool slides be­cause the only pud­dles she’s nav­i­gat­ing are the ones ac­cu­mu­lat­ing around her gi­ant in­flat­able swan.

Which is not to say wear­able sum­mer fash­ion doesn’t ex­ist, but sift­ing through end­less vis­ual clichés to find it is te­dious, time con­sum­ing, and ul­ti­mately not worth the ef­fort for a gar­ment whose cost-per-wear, in the Ir­ish cli­mate, might equal the price on the tag.

This brings me to au­tumn — my spirit sea­son, and the best time to en­joy fash­ion in Ire­land. As the au­tumn col­lec­tions drop, I feel at peace again strolling through Zara. Here are the clothes I want, the colours that suit my Ir­ish com­plex­ion, the tex­tures I’m drawn to, the shapes that don’t make me feel like I need to sign up for Pi­lates classes.

The new sea­son col­lec­tions may har­bour an un­wear­able trend or two (I’m look­ing at you, Chanel space blan­kets, Si­mone Rocha fur shoes, and Calvin Klein free-the-nip­ple knits), but in au- tumn the bal­ance gen­er­ally shifts in favour of wear­a­bil­ity, com­fort, and sim­ple, good, grown up style.

Au­tumn is when those of us over 35 can en­joy spend­ing money on clothes again. We can in­vest in big-ticket items like coats and boots with­out sec­on­dand guess­ing their prac­ti­cal­ity. Au­tumn fash­ion comes with longevity built in. Sure, au­tumn win­ter trends still come and go, but they do so at a slower pace. A good coat, great knit, or gor­geous wool trousers will hold their ap­peal and their value for sea­sons to come.

There’s an ease to au­tumn dress­ing I’m long­ing to re­dis­cover. The sim­plic­ity of boots + dress = done. The re­lief of opaque tights! For­giv­ing fab­rics that fig­ure and shape. There’s a pol­ished feel to it all, and it comes from the clothes; tai­lored fin­ishes, rich colours, and tex­tures that speak vol­umes. I’ve al­ways been more com­fort­able cov­er­ing up any­way, but that’s a body tem­per­a­ture thing, not mod­esty. Au­tumn al­lows cold créatúrs like me to in­dulge in cosi­ness.

For this rea­son, I fetishise my win­ter sta­ples in a way I never will my sum­mer clothes. I’m count­ing down the days till I can be re­united with my favourite pur­chase from last au­tumn — a beau­ti­ful COS coat with a soft, rounded sil­hou­ette in an enig­matic pinky brown colour. It in­stantly elevates any look, from jeans to a cock­tail dress, and I don’t have a sin­gle item in my sum­mer wardrobe with the ca­pac­ity to do that. There’s a surety to au­tumn weather that makes it eas­ier to dress for, and an un­cer­tainty to sum­mer that leaves me con­stantly feel­ing on the back foot.

Unzip­ping my win­ter stor­age bag is like get­ting reac­quainted with old friends; whereas my sum­mer clothes — mostly bought un­der duress — are wo­ven with the anx­i­ety of all the self­im­prove­ments I feel obliged to un­der­take in or­der to be wor­thy of them. The dress that needs fake tan, or the top with the tags still on be­cause I never did get around to do­ing 100 sit ups ev­ery morn­ing. They make me feel judged and in­ad­e­quate.

If au­tumn is your spirit sea­son too, there’s much to look for­ward to this year. The wild eclec­ti­cism and ca­sual op­u­lence em­bod­ied by last year’s em­blem­atic Gucci Girl has car­ried for­ward, but it’s been reigned in and dis­tilled into some­thing that feels a bit more Worldly Woman. There’s still a wide range of dis­parate in­flu­ences at play, but de­sign­ers like Dries Van Noten and Vic­to­ria Beck­ham have pulled them to­gether with a so­phis­ti­ca­tion that will make au­tumn/win­ter dress­ing a breeze.

So bring on the tem­per­a­ture drop, let those evenings close in; I’m ready to layer up, chill out, have an­other help­ing of bread and but­ter pud­ding, and re­lax my way through the best sea­son of them all.

Pic­ture: JP Yim/Getty Im­ages

<< THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME: A model at Vic­to­ria Beck­ham dur­ing New York Fash­ion Week.

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