Ah, fall. It’s that glorious transitional time between the two extremes where you’re either sweating or freezing your ass off. It’s a magical time that should be treated with the reverence bourbon-spiked PSLs deserve, accented with the type of outfits that complement the foliage and will look cute at tailgating events you may or may not remember.
The other great thing about fall is the concept of layering key items with cheaper ones. The important thing is being mindful of your budget and not buying total crap if you can help it, because you’re not going to grow out of coats, boots, blazers, and chunky sweaters that hide any evidence of last night’s drunk pizza run. Gilt, eBay, Amazon, RueLaLa, and Etsy are all great alternatives to going to a store, because we all know how terrifying shopping spree numbers can become.
Before I go into a list of key essentials, I want to stress that you should buy off-season. I haven’t really purchased anything this year for the coming months because I got it all when it hit deep clearance last spring. (I’m sorry, but five Theory sweaters for $90? Feel free to hate me.) If you mindfully build a wardrobe over time, it becomes less of a financial burden and more of a building block for the life you want. You know that saying “we accept the love we think we deserve”? It also pertains to how you look. (Side note: I don’t follow trends because I’m a preppy, traditional asshole, so some of these items or concepts may not mesh with your personal style.)
Boots — an equestrian style boot, a cowboy boot, a rain boot, and an ankle boot.
Until (or if) the snow hits, you should have all the bases covered with the above boot selections. If any of the above aren’t your style, then just cross them off. However, these cater to all types of outfits.
Jackets — a light, quilted country jacket, a waxed cotton jacket, a leather jacket, and a cape if you dare.
Outerwear is kind of my kryptonite, because it’s the first and sometimes the only thing people notice that you’re wearing. Treat your jackets and coats with care and they’ll last for years and years. I have a few vintage coats from the ’50s and ’60s, and they’re proof that quality matters, even if you buy said quality in the middle of the summer at an outdoor flea market. They’re also quite expensive, but Barbour jackets are worth their weight in gold and will never go out of style. Pro-tip: they go on sale on Nordstrom and ASOS.
These are great styling pieces that make you look put together and professional, no matter how hungover you look. I wholeheartedly suggest buying a little boys’ navy blazer from Brooks Brothers, because they’re the same quality at a lower price point, and BB will tailor it for cheap in-store. Plus, you can wear it year-round. Otherwise, wool, herringbone, and houndstooth blazers should be your friends this season.
Vests — fleece, puffer, or cable-knit, draped ones.
These guys can go over long-sleeved tees and button-downs. In the fall, they can serve as outerwear, and as the temperature drops, you can use them as another layer indoors. Again, another “I’m hungover but need to look halfway decent” option.
Belts — for both your waist and your natural waist.
Belts can pull together an outfit. They should really match your shoes, but if you’re going with a printed option, just make sure they’re in the same tonal family. By cinching a belt at your natural waist (just underneath or at the base of your ribcage) you can also give a long, draped sweater a more tailored look.
What you can get for cheap — long-sleeved shirts for layering.
These will go underneath dry clean only sweaters, blazers, and puffer vests. They’re the little bastards you won’t mind throwing in the wash and ultimately destroying from overuse. They will also save you a fortune in dry cleaning bills.
Good luck, have fun with mixing and matching key pieces, and may the #PSL be with you.