Alas, the days are getting shorter, it’s feeling cooler out there, and the leaves are starting to glow their first hints of amber.
There’s no need to despair that autumn is ratta-tatting-on our windows. It’s my favourite season – the most beautiful of them all, and often the most fun fashion-wise. It’s finally safe to comfortably wear layers again, whilst still having enough fine days to not have to turn into a full-blown-woollen-cocoon. There’s still room for a lot of cuteness, is what I’m saying.
You just gotta be a lil bit prepared. A wardrobe stock-take of sorts is required to make sure that you’re ready for when it turns full autumn.
Living in NZ, a lot of my go-items come from the land-of-the-internet i.e. overseas. It’s not that we don’t have those items in NZ, but often range and sizes are limited, and you often pay double what you would online. It’s great you can get such bargains – especially as places like ASOS are selling off their winter stock 70% off just as we start to contemplate new coats and knitwear – but these things take time to arrive. So if you want to be ready for proper-autumn once April rolls around, then you gotta use March wisely, place your orders, and be prepared in time.
Getting ready for the cooler months isn’t about spending thousands on an entire new wardrobe – things like coats should last a lifetime if you look after them properly. It’s more about spending wisely, and knowing how to layer-up. Your autumn and winter wardrobe shouldn’t be drastically different to your summer one – you just add: tights, cardigans, a scarf, a coat – and these will let you take any summer dress or outfit through to the winter.
Today I thought I’d share my own go-to autumn preparedness list of what I’ll be acquiring and checking-up on on over the coming weeks to ensure that this golden-time of walking amongst glowing trees, scuffing through crunchy leaves, listening to Miles Davis and pretending that I’m living the Central Park scene from When Harry Met Sally, is not squandered.
First things first. Pull out all of your cold-weather gear – scarves, knitwear, coats, tights, gloves, boots etc. Inspect each item and sort them into four piles: Keep, Turf, Mend and Clean.
Keep: Perfect items, ready to be worn, that you love and are in great condition where nothing needs to be done to them. These can go straight back into your drawers and wardrobe.
Turf: For me, this pile typically means last-years’ tights that have stretched and laddered, merino tops and cardigans that are looking dingy, misshapen and sad, and slips and singlets that have been worn to death. Bin them all and make a note to replace them. Don’t donate them. No one wants your lived-in-manky-grossness.
Mend: There’s usually a selection of items that still have a ton of wear in them but need a lil bit of TLC – typically these are coats and knitwear. Buttons that need re-fixing, holes to be darned, and loose pockets and seams to be stitched back into place. Take them into the lounge RIGHT NOW and fix them all RIGHT NOW. It’ll take an hour tops. Make a fancy pot of tea and put on some Netflix. If you don’t do this RIGHT NOW these items will sit in a pile on the back of a chair until next spring and that’s no good to anyone. Trust me. Mend them RIGHT NOW.
Clean: This generally applies to your bulkier items like coats. Pull them out. Give them a sniff. Check for stains. Anything that you think needs a refresh, take down to the dry cleaners as soon as you can. Like the Mend pile, if you don’t do this ASAP then it will never get done, and you’ll get really sad and annoyed with yourself when you want to wear that coat in 6 weeks time but then you remember that there’s a coffee stain on it. Yes dry cleaning is an expense, but cheap compared to the cost of replacing those coats. These are your investment pieces and need to be looked after if they’re going to last the years.
Whilst you’re at it check your scarves and gloves too. These could usually do with a gentle wool / hand wash as they are the items that get the brunt of spillages, make-up rub-off etc.
Okay, yay! Now that you’ve done the boring and dull bit you can get onto the fun part – buying things!
2. Merino Tops
Merino is our cold-season best friend and we’re lucky that in NZ we have such a range available, for quite reasonable prices. They’re one of the few items I don’t buy online – most high street stores now carry their own lines of merino. Lightweight, non-bulky, and stylish. They’re the perfect staple.
You can spend hundreds of dollars on all kinds of fancy merino garments, but for me, I can never go past Glassons merino range that arrives in store around this time every year. Usually they’ve got a deal – like, 2 for $50. I wear them to bits each winter, so tend to re-buy every autumn, to keep them looking nice and smart. Typically I get 2 x long sleeve crew neck tops – one in black or navy, and one in a nautical stripe (a personal neural). I might also grab an oversized cardigan whilst I’m at it because you can’t have too many layers, and these cardigans are great for keeping on the back of your desk chair at work, incase you need some extra warmth during the day.
3. Opaque Tights
Ugh. Tights are the item I need and wear the most, but find the most painful and stressful to acquire. Black Opaque tights in a minimum of 80 denier – you need a ton of these (okay, I exaggerate, several pairs), but they don’t come cheap and you just never know how they’re going to fit, sit and last. These days you’re lucky to get a pair for under $20. And so often I’ve bought a reputable, expensive, brand, only to have them rip or ladder on me almost immediately (this shouldn’t be legal with tights so thick). If not that then the waistband it too low, and digs in, creating lumps and bumps everywhere. Or the elastic fails and you get the dreaded crotch sag so then you spend all day, every day, between April and September waddling around awkwardly, seeking out private corners, in public places, where you can sneakily hitch up the tights, before they drop completely around your ankles and humiliate you (probably in front of someone really hot, always the way).
Farmers used to be a good solid source for tights, but I’ve found in the past few years that you’re totally out of luck if you want anything size 16, or an Xtra Tall, upwards. I imagine it’s a case of them selling out, rather than not stocking them. In which case, I wish they’d take the hint and get more in. It’s not exactly a niche item, y’know? The people have spoken. Our bodacious thighs demand quality tights!
Last year I got a three-pack of from ASOS curve, on sale, for something like NZ$40. They were pretty decent quality and fit well, however they had a tendency to snag, then ladder, so barely made it through the winter. But they are good value and so I would recommend if you want an affordable and easy option.
This year, though, I have a new plan! Heist Studios keep advertising on my Instagram feed as the most comfortable, sturdy, seam free, curvy, tights ever made. I’m not usually one to click on adverts in my newsfeeds, however I’ve since seen a few Northern Hemisphere plus-size bloggers sing the praises of Heist. They’re not the cheapest, but I figure if they get through the season, and I’m not spending my life hitching them up, and anxious about a catastrophic and embarrassing wardrobe fail, then it’s worth it. I’ll report back when I’ve got them and taken them for a test-strut.
4. Moody Nails
For a mere $20 and 30 minutes you can feel sophisticated, trendy and So-Autumnal-It-Hurts. It’s all in the nail polish. I wear nail polish constantly, and whilst I love bright reds, pinks and lilacs in spring and summer – it’s nice to change it up for the season, and investing in a new bottle of seasonal varnish makes it so easy to change your entire vibe. In my opinion you can’t go wrong with a navy blue, a deep plum red, gunpowder grey, or the ever-faithful black, on smart, clipped nails. It just feels so European, y’know?!
5. The Investment Piece
I remember reading that you should purchase one investment piece each winter – typically alternating between boots and coats. I have to admit, I do not stick to this rule for coats. They are a year-round habit if I spot a good one – and I own far too many, and I know I’m by no means done – but I do agree with this philosophy. Since these items typically cost upwards of $200, it makes sense to alternate them to save your pocket a lot of pain. It’s always best to spend on the best quality that you can afford for these crucial items. Trust me, I’ve experienced the utter misery of the sole of a $30 pair of boots, fall off in a 3 inch puddle, in torrential rain, 2km from home. I’ve learnt this lesson the hard way.
There’s till time to order and break-in your new Docs, if you haven’t already done so. They are my go-to winter footwear for a reason – high quality leather, warm, dry, sturdy and comfortable, plus they just look so good with opaque tights and a dress. Need help breaking them in? See my handy how-to guide.
For coats and outerwear, if you’re after a bargain and selection, you can’t go past ASOS. There’s some good quality, fun, offerings, in a great range of plus sizes. And they offer free returns if it arrives and it’s not working for you for whatever reason. In my dreams I can afford to drop $1,000 on new-season Trelise Cooper coat each year, but we gotta be real here.
If you want something more interesting then basic-black, ASOS is your best friend. These three coats pictured below are all in stock, and on sale, right now. As you can see, there are some really great options.
6. Health, baby
Boring, boring, boring, I know. But please get a flu shot. And whilst you’re at it buy a big tub of Vitamin C, garlic, and echinacea tablets and start taking them every morning with breakfast. I started taking them this time last year and I didn’t get sick all winter, which is a lifetime first for me – I’m usually really prone to colds – so now I’ll never be without them.
After all, what’s the point in having the Most Fabulous Winter Wardrobe if you’re stuck home, sick, all season, unable to show it off?!
Now go forth, my autumnal angels – get prepared – be fabulous – do me proud!
Coat – Trelise Cooper (Winter 2017)
Boots – Doc Martens
Skirt – Vintage
Shirt – Kmart