As fall approaches, I alluded to this yesterday, I start seeing my wardrobe with a critical eye. What works? What doesn’t? What items will “open it up?” “Open it up” is my term for an item that is the key piece to many an outfit. My last big “Open it up” purchase was a pair of knee high black boots (that I purchased to replace the last pair of knee high black boots.) It just makes so many things work: skirts, minidresses, jeans. It allows me to seriously dress up even when it is brutally cold. (A lot of people in Chicago give up when the temperature hits a certain degree below freezing. I find this to be a weakness in their character. The brown full-length puffer coats…yikes. I mean YIKES. It looks like a walking dog turd. At least pick a color, you know? OR…and I highly recommend this, pick up a book on backpacking and poodle over to the chapter about backpacking in the winter. There will be oodles of info on layering without creating bulk. I actually use these techniques. No big turdy coat. Underneath that cute little sweater, try silk long underwear! They are thin, warm, and undetectable.
But I digress.
This year’s “open it up” item will likely be a pencil skirt. I already sort of own one, but it’s jersey and I want something with more structure. To quote Harry Shearer in A Mighty Wind, it will look “now-tro” as opposed to retro. That’s sort of the theme of this year’s shopping list Now-tro. Kinda retro, kinda my own thing.
I also had to rank the items in order of importance. This is because if I don’t I would buy shoes and only shoes and have no bottoms to put on. And that is a dilemma. Without further ado:
The Fall Shopping List
1. A pair of perfect jeans. Likely these will come in the form of Long and Leans from the Gap…if, god willing, they still carry them. (The Gap just went through a big jean makeover concept thing and I haven’t seen what they’ve got in there…). The point is they must be non-stretch, long enough for me (I have a challenging inseam), and be slightly bootcut, but not to the point of flare.
2. A winter coat. This year, while everyone is working the “Bright Color Coat” trend (finally. My god. Fashion editors finally got the memo that black wool isn’t the only material out there…), I will be concentrating more on a dramatic sleeve, I think. 1. I already did the Bright Color Coat thing. (Not to say I won’t again, I’m just not concentrating my efforts there.) 2. There are some very pretty options from some interesting sources….and they just might look right with opera-length leather gloves.
3. Ballet wrap-sweater straight from a dance supplier. One of my fave go-to’s. I wore my last one to shreds.
4. A Silk tie-neck blouse, print, long-sleeve, no ruffles.
5. The Leopard Print Pencil Skirt.
6. White shirt. Long-sleeved, french cuffed (I love french cuffs), also no ruffles.
(It’s not that I don’t like ruffles…it’s that I own so many of them, I had to introduce sanctions. I’ve also had to do this with Dolly Parton t-shirts.)
7. A vest – menswearish, with buttons. Smallish fit. (I may attempt to sew this myself….how hard would that be? I really don’t know. A standard vest is easy, but I’m looking for some fairly careful tailoring.)
8. A sweater vest. I really love sweater vests. I will actually probably knit this item myself. I found a cute vintage pattern.
9. The Mary Janes. I know I probably won’t be able to afford them this year, but should I pick up a quick $300, ahem, you know..
10. The opera-length leather gloves (look out ebay.)
That’s the top ten. The “Open-Uppers” are the pencil skirt and the tie-neck blouse. They will take what I have into the next level.
Now, the following pieces are not essentials so much as experiments.
11. Cashmere pashmina, wrap, or scarf. Basically I’m looking for a soft, thin, 28 x 28 piece of fabric. It’s the most versatile. I would even take bigger if I could find it. Sure you can use it as a scarf, but what if someone demands I do the C section of “Matchmaker” and I’m not prepared?
12. Lace-up flat oxfords, tiny. Basically I want a pair of jazz oxfords with a thick enough sole to walk around the city. Hmmm…maybe I should just pick up a pair of jazz shoes and have my shoe guy sole them. Anyway, I want to try these with cuffed jeans. Kind of a 1940’s workin’ in my Victory Garden look.
13. Minidress. Long-sleeved, print…preferably literal graphics, if you know what I mean (newspaper, toile, something non-abstract.) I love minidresses, and looks like long-sleeved are in this year. Plus long sleeved I can wear all winter. The short-sleeved get a little chilly.
14. New glasses. Sure, I should probably have prioritized this one at say, number 1, but my contacts are fine. My glasses, however…whew. No good. They are cute but I can’t see a damn thing.
15. Black bag. Far from experimental, I know, but sometime finding the right handbag can take so long, I have to mentally prepare myself for the search.
And then come the last 5 items (actually, my list doesn’t stop at 20, but after that it’s more of a brainstorm session.) The last five items are pieces that are classics, have been in my wardrobe at one time or another and I miss them.
16. Leather jacket. I really have a strange relationship with leather jackets. They are undeniably cool, but as an animal-lover, I feel a sense of guilt when I wear them. But then fake leather is…sweaty. And, well, fake. So. I’m hoping to find a vintage or used leather jacket. No extra animals are sacrificed and I still get quality.
17. Cords. I own a pair of corduroys, but they are old, and a little too beachy for my taste. How I found a pair of corduroys that can be described as “beachy” is beyond me. What I want is a perfect fit, slightly bootcut, in a pretty jewel tone…or pink.
18. Tretorns. I used to have a pair. I wore the hell out of them. And then I fell into the mid-late 90’s and my love affair with adidas. And now, I’m ready for tretorns again.
19. Black long-sleeved wrap dress. As I said before, I often have to institute sanctions when I overbuy an item. Being in theatre, and having performed some backstage duties, I buy a lot of black. I already own two black dresses. But. One is decidedly a cotton summer affair, and the other is a tropical wool LBD. They are versatile, yes, but I really want a black long-sleeved one to round out the mix.
20. Leotards. After yesterdays post, I was thinking…what’s stopping me from wearing what I love? Me. That’s it. I don’t mean I’m going to be jogging around wearing leotards, tights and legwarmers. But why not a leotard, jeans, and a wrap sweater? Scoff if you will, it’s an outfit I love to wear. Post musical dance rehearsal shouldn’t be the only time I wear what I love.
There’s more to the list, saddle shoes, glen plaid cap sleeve dress, little jackets, a twin set….but they are far from priorities. Then of course, there is my list of stuff I will always buy, that won’t ever get checked off a list: tights, bras, aprons, slips (I love slips), earrings, white tshirts, black tshirts…perfume, makeup…
I love fall.