A few days ago I went to the Price Chopper. The girl behind me in the checkout line was wearing pink flannel pajama pants with the word “princess” stamped across the back, which she then paired with fuchsia Crocs (heel strap and all). The guy in front of me was wearing a pair of grey sweatpants and a hunting camo shirt (and was buying an unusually large amount of beef jerky…but that is besides the point).
What I am trying to say is, Hamilton, New York is not exactly the fashion capital of the world. And hey, when the fall/winter weather rolls around and dressing oneself becomes a matter of surviving the excruciating, biting, numbing, bitter, brutal (sorry, I’m filled with a little dread) cold, it is on some level understandable that one would worry less and less about what is in and more about what strategically works.
But luckily for us, it looks like fall fashion has taken a turn toward the utilitarian. From head to toe, several of this season’s it-items have a distinctly functional feel, hinged on an outdoorsy, army-inspired concept. We all remember that last fall’s must-have outerwear was the leather bomber jacket; this past spring brought on the rebirth of the jean jacket or denim overshirt. So, in an almost logical progression, this fall season the military jacket has risen to the forefront. Olive-hued and pocketed with just the right amount of fade and crinkle is the way to go. It should appear pleasantly rugged but not overly bulky (read: sloppy), so look for one that is subtly fitted.
Along the same vein, the standard skinny-cut jean has become completely ubiquitous. So, fashion bloggers and magazine editors alike are excitedly touting the arrival of a new, fresh take on the skinny style: skinny-cut cargo pants. I know, I was a bit reluctant about the idea of the cargo at first as well; I wondered if the pockets would be unflattering against the leg, not to mention the fact that I associate cargo pants with frumpy moms and the weird kids in elementary school (do not ask). But after a thorough investigation of what major retailers and denim brands have to offer, I have come to the conclusion that we are not dealing with the cargo pants of yore; the cut really does update the look and it is actually quite a refreshing change from the all-skinny-jeans-all-the-time phenomenon.
And finally, of course, we cannot forget about the footwear. The lace-up look has dominated the shoe scene of late, in the boot and bootie category in particular. The variations range far and wide; some are heeled or wedged, while others are flat-soled and resemble a sleeker, less clunky version of Doc Martens. Some are entirely earthy or natural-toned, while others inject a pop of color. Yet, all have something vaguely workman-like about them, and that is what makes each style especially interesting and unique.
In the end, however, the most important thing to remember about these pieces is that they must be used in moderation, or risk looking more prepared to hit the trails or the training camp than the streets. It is all about counter-balancing opposite elements. The jacket, for instance, is well-suited to be thrown on over a feminine dress with tights or with a pair of tailored, clean-cut jeans. The tapered cargos ought be paired with a lacey or billowy top and perhaps some ladylike flats or something with some heel. And, of course, the same rule of thumb goes for the shoes (that means no grungy t-shirt and boyfriend jeans with the flat-soled lace-ups, ok?).
So, I know every now and then I am guilty of wearing my Colgate sweats for a questionably long period of time when the weather starts to chill and, do not lie, you are too. But this season the fashionable and the functional have happily married to produce some really fun fall styles. Maybe I will not dread the incoming cooler weather so much, after all.