On seasonless dressing

Elle, November 2010

I was flipping through fashion magazines earlier, as I am wont to do when I’m bored (or any other time), and I noticed something interesting. Though it is most decidedly fall – chocolate turkeys, way-too-early Christmas decorations and all – at least half of the clothes featured at the moment are meant for the beach or some other 80-degree locale. Now don’t get me wrong, I am prone to fantasizing about lying on a beach in the middle of winter as much as the next girl. But this focus on bikinis, pastels and raffia sandals struck me as just a little strange.

Given that the weather is finally cooling down, it would make sense for the focus of the fashion world to be on sweaters, coats and the perfect pair of boots. And it is, to an extent –  do not forget the countless articles exclaiming that you must buy a camel coat for winter or else suffer fashion exile. But besides the coverage of the “new neutrals” (which are most decidedly not new, just a rebranding of a classic), there seems to be little else focusing on what can keep fashionistas both warm and stylish.

The cover of the November Elle features Kate Hudson in a two-tone, pastel lace dress. The background is vaguely sunny and spring-like. But for those of us in the northern hemisphere, spring couldn’t be further away. A glance out my window shows branches shedding red and gold leaves – gorgeous, but apparently out of fashion. Guess Mother Nature didn’t get the memo.

The thing is, the fashion world runs six months ahead of schedule. The fall shows are in February; the spring shows in September. And then there are the transitional shows, pre-fall (in the summer) and resort (late fall). So from a news perspective, the sandals and candy-colored patent leather loafers are showing up right on time. But from a what-should-I-wear-today perspective, it’s a bit confusing.

Though I do like to dress somewhat seasonlessly – a lighter weight skirt with tights, or a pretty tank with a heavier cardigan – the pages and pages (both in magazines and on the web) dedicated to resort collections are overwhelming. Editors are urging us to buy that hot pink clutch now – wear it with fur in the winter, a sarong in the summer! – but hot pink is just not a fall color. No matter how cheerful and Barbie-like it may be. Sure, buy out of season – it’s a great way to get a decent price on a winter coat. But I doubt jeweled sandals are on the top of anyone’s November shopping list. Unless you are lucky enough to jet to Capri every weekend, and in that case, can I come?

In order for fashion magazines to stay relevant, they need to be aware of what is seasonally appropriate and desirable. Sure, it’s fun to see what will be in store for spring and summer, and it’s always entertaining to daydream about touring Rome in a succession of pretty sundresses. But for now, give me things warm, fuzzy and possibly oversized. It’s cold out there, and no number of jeweled sandals can change that.

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