Stalled at the fall fashion starting gate

Following some primal instinct, I find myself looking at the pastels and stark whites in my closet and drawers and think it’s time to move on. It’s an immediate response to the word autumn. 

Suddenly, I’m awash in my own images of heathers and mosses, burnt oranges and crimsons. It all reaches a crescendo when the magazine ads start and the New York Times delivers its “Style” section with the Sunday paper. 

So, on a recent afternoon, I sat down with a pile of publications on my lap, dreaming of finding myself on those glossy pages. The confident self is a woman who can be bold when it comes to clothes. This self has a lot of black and tan clothes, as most safety-seeking women. However, purples and cranberries are sometimes sneaked in. You can also find rich grays. 

I am well past my innocence age, so the sweet little-girl styles that come out every few fall are out for me. I’m also not the type for extremes, my barely five-foot-two stature drowns in capes and elaborate bias-cut, draped silhouettes. But this year I was ready for some inspiration from the glossies on how to present myself now that the heat of summer is over. 

Let’s begin with nakedness. I’d hoped that it was finally over. I thought that women would conceal their midriffs again. It wasn’t so. 

Many of the highest of high fashions were actually low cut and bolder than ever. Especially in the high-end magazine layouts, fashions seemed to apply exclusively to women who have done their aerobics daily and subsisted on lettuce leaves. 

Class Rings

Here’s what was topping the hit parade on the style pages I read: 

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A woman wearing something that looked like a mangled bear as an open jacket, with nothing underneath. This is the perfect outfit for a quick trip to the supermarket or a meeting with zoning professionals. 

Two women bedecked in leather and spangles, one with a boa of feathers around her neck. Just the thing for the first-grade play about Tommy the Turnip. 

Models dressed in so many layers of clothing, including blouses, vests, over-vests, jackets and skirts underscored by leggings, that it was impossible to discern what was happening, garment-wise. This look would work well at a Zoom book club. 

I felt a little discouraged but continued to search for inspiration. 

Let me note that in my long and presumably fashion-challenged life, I have never worn anything remotely like these “new fall looks that work with your life,” as one magazine promised. Nor have I ever succeeded in mingling more than three elements in one outfit. 

Scarves that are supposed to “pull the whole outfit together” tend to either choke me or make me look absurd. Any neckline that is too low makes me feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. I don’t wear fur. 

I’m back on the road of good intentions, only to find that I’m stuck at the couture starting gate. It is now. The siren call of fashion is beckoning. 

I’m planning to spend one day this week going through the hall closet where I’ve stashed my own fall wardrobe, such as it is. I’ll be resurrecting the pants I bought on sale at Target three seasons ago and the sensible, modest shirts with faint fall flowers that go with them. If I’m lucky, I’ll find no moth holes in my stored sweaters. And I may drag out my “occasion” dress, a basic black that doesn’t plunge or have peek-a-boo cut-outs down the sides. And I’ll keep waiting for salvation from fashion madness somewhere down the line. 

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Fortunately, I’m a patient woman. 

Sally Friedman works as a freelance writer. [email protected]

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