I am not an outdoor girl. I’ll go camping (if dragged) or to an amusement park (if there are funnel cakes), but my favorite activities usually take place indoors. It’s for this reason that you can imagine how frustrating it is to have something like the weather rule your life. I live in Texas. It’s hot, heavy and downright smothered with humidity. Self-tanner is my best friend considering it’s impossible to get through the weather without showing some serious skin. The heat blankets you from the moment you walk out the front door, and doesn’t let go until you walk into another air-conditioned building. I have over 20 pairs of sunglasses and for good reason: the sun literally won’t get out of my face. It beats like a punk rock drummer, and shines strongly for the better part of the day. When it rains, it rains. It’s a day-long struggle to keep cool, and then finally the skies open for a few days, releasing what is considered “cool weather” to most Texans. Keep in mind, this “cool weather” has a temperature of about 80° Fahrenheit. Nope, that’s not a typo.
Fashion, as we all know, has its own seasons. Runway collections are showcased a season ahead, dressing for the opposite climate of that we are currently experiencing, teasing us with all of the goodies that we can only hope to wear in the coming six months. For myself, I feel this is especially true. Every August, as the magazines and stores become packed with fall’s must-haves, I sadly watch in awe while wearing a tank top and shorts.
This year, it was C&C California tanks paired with vintage silk shorts, and as easy and carefree as that look is, I still longed to be swathed in knit layers and textured tights. It almost makes the eternally sunny weather a depressing factor in my life. The hotter it gets, the sadder I become.
Cashmere teases me from the top shelves of my closet, but a simple glance out the window shocks me back into reality. I frown at the fact that I won’t be able to wear sweaters for a solid few months, and then slip into flip-flops because, by this stage in the dressing routine, I’m far too down about not being able to wear a coat on Thanksgiving to bother with even kitten heels. I know what clothes I should own: easy dresses in cool fabrics, tailored shorts, expensive wedges…but for whatever reason, these clothes aren’t fun to me. Sure they’re “cute,” but when it comes to my personal style, that very word makes me cringe.
Don’t get me wrong. I love lazy days by the pool; jeweled sandals are so glorious on a hot summer’s night. A look in my closet would beg to differ. I have enough coats to outfit a small army and boots to… well, boot. My love of cold weather clothing supersedes the actual climate I live in. This poses many problems:
-Winter clothes typically cost more.
-Winter clothes take up more space.
-I am left with nothing to wear for the majority of the year.
While I can cope with the first two of the above, its that the last one that is the sticking point. I try to thrust myself into the warm weather sector of fashion—follow LA fashion week, get into the free spirited west coast style—but I simply can’t. It’s too frou-frou, too girly, too much.
Most spring and summer collections have a lot of color, of which I’m not too fond. Even when a spring collection consists of cleaner lines, and minimalist separates, I want the heavier versions of these styles. The lightweight cottons and linen fabrics don’t cut it—they lack the mysterious fun and interest woven into a waffled knit or sumptuous cashmere. Sweater dresses, tights, boots…they’re things to get excited about! They remind me of back-to-school-shopping, getting dressed up for Christmas dinner and brisk, stomping-on-the-autumn-leaves walks.
When you think about it, winter dressing is a lot more fun. A lot of thought has to go into winter dressing. It isn’t a process of simply pulling on a swimsuit, gigantic sunglasses and sandals. It’s a balancing act of proportion and weight. Sure, this may be too much hassle to some, but for me it’s pure pleasure. The soft neutral colors that blanket winter collections blend seamlessly with one another, allowing for experimentation as shades of grey mix with all the colors on a Pantone palette. My favorite songs conjure up images of clear, cold days. My favorite movies take place in the winter. My favorite fashion shots are of winter clothing, and when traveling, I almost always hope it will be cold (wherever my destination). I can’t figure out if this stems from years of living in a Mars-like climate, or simply from my love winter clothes. Either way, it’s currently early October, and I’m still living in the same looks from early June, which makes for a sad episode each morning as I dress.
This year, I decided I would try my absolute best to incorporate fall pieces into my wardrobe, no matter the outside temperature reported by weather.com. Sure, I can’t sport a huge wrap when it’s 90° out, but I am determined to work in other staples that will carry me into the cooler weather (should that ever come). The elusive ankle boots are back and hotter than ever, so I’ll take the plunge and wear them with everything from cropped leggings to shorts and frothy dresses. The combination of the black leather and round toes are surprisingly fresh with the sack-like sundresses that I wore this summer, and are even comfortable.
Forgoing the urge to buy anotherpair of skinny jeans, I’ll opt for a pair of lightweight wide leg trousers (when I’m behind a gaggle of 14 year old girls at Starbucks and we’re wearing similar jeans, I know it’s time to move on). The wide leg trousers balance tanks and cap sleeve blouses that normally seem so feminine and summery to me—which is why they have stayed in the closet for most of the time I’ve had them. The trousers strike a brilliant cord with stacked sandals, insane wedges or even with the ankle boots just peeking out. When worn in colors like chocolate, navy or dark grey, they become seasonless, as long as they’re the right weight for whatever climate you regularly inhabit.
I’ll also begin a mad search for the perfect lightweight jackets, but in darker colors. These are sublime when worn over a tank and jeans, or even a dress. I love huge collars and nipped waists, which are not only flattering, but create more of an “outfit” than typical silhouettes. Looking like you’re wearing an “outfit” is more conducive to cool weather. In the summer, you’re jumping from activity to activity, destination to destination, so having your hair in a bun and throwing on a smock dress is considered a “look.” Fall and winter are different. They’re seasons of good hair, polished skin, and finished looks. Jackets give this illusion of being “dressed” without all of the fuss and work. I feel pulled together, but not in an uptight way.
I keep trying these things out, and I my enthusiasm for getting dressed in the morning starts to build. When I’m wearing an “outfit,” I feel more confident. My posture is better and I feel more in control of whatever I’m doing. It’s arguable how “confident” and “in control” one can feel while wearing a tank top, shorts and a pair of Chuck Taylors. No doubt I’m comfortable, but why bother with that when you can feel invincible? Or, so I think. This, of course, is before I take these looks out for a whirl in the real world.
For a while, I felt a bit overdressed when I was out. Most women were in shorts or sundresses, without any extra accesorization. While I was never physically uncomfortable, I first felt that I was trying too hard. I thought to myself, maybe since it isn’t cool here, I shouldn’t dress as though it is. In stores, I would actually hear women say aloud, “SWEATERS already?!” as I was eyeing the fresh, untouched rack of scarves. Never would you need a scarf here, but they’re so darn fun I must own over 25, and deciding which ones to pack when traveling is a painstaking task, as I know whatever is left behind won’t see the light of day for quite some time.
While scarves are simply too impractical to incorporate into my experiment, I keep up with the jackets, trousers and boots and begin to satisfy my urge for cooler weather clothes in non-chilly temperatures. While the looks are more defined and perhaps more work than summer dressing, I still love them. I don’t look overdressed, I simply look dressed. In a city of hot, hot weather, and sun-loving women, it’s hard to get away with that, but I’m willing to risk it.
In lieu of the standard shopping outfit of track shorts and tennis shoes (an outfit [if you can call it that] that plagues women of all ages here whether you’re shopping at Saks or Barnes & Noble), I choose straight leg trousers, a thin long sleeved t-shirt, wide belt, and ankle boots. As long as I’m comfortable, I figure I can just roll with the punches (or the weather) and find something that fits with the “season” but also the temperature outside. Even when that temperature is the total opposite of the typical monthly average for the rest of the country.
For now, this tactic is my best bet, unless I move. Imagine that: moving based on the fact that I’d like to experience actual seasons and the clothing that coincides. And while that isn’t totally out of the question, it would be a bit extreme. A girl can only experiment so much, but if her true loves are gloves and tights, there’s not much you can do to make her stop buying them no matter what the outdoors say. In the end, I don’t think I actually am an indoors girl. It’s that the outdoors never can seem to agree with my clothing choices.