Friday, 27 August 2010

Friend Friday: Fall Fashion

Friend Friday is a weekly survey for fashion bloggers run by ModlyChic
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This week's questions are on Fall Fashion.  That's Autumn/Winter to those of us across the pond!  As the days draw in and the nights get longer fashion gives us a chance to up the ante and pile on the glamour with each new layer.  It is the season when fashion's dark side comes out to play.  The Autumn/Winter collections can always be relied on to deliver the dramatic, the fantastical, the edgy and the ultra glamorous looks that quicken the pulse and set the heart racing.

Despite being someone who lives for summer and warm weather, Autumn/Winter is my favourite season for  fashion.  The sheer pleasure of dressing up against the cold in all those gorgeous coats, chunky knits, boots, scarves, gloves and hats!  And when the weather gets chillier still out come the sumptuous skins: the furry (fake if you please!), the shaggy, the leather, the suede, the shearling.   

1. What new fashion trend are you looking forward to sporting this fall?
The Cape.  Capes aren’t really such a new thing.  If you look carefully at past seasons spanning the last few years there is always at least one designer who will do a fabulous cape in his or her collection.  Believe me.  I love capes.  I have a cape radar! Nothing like a cape to add drama to an outfit.

In past years they haven’t really taken off.  I admit they require a certain confidence to wear them.  This year however, the cape seems to have gained traction and the British high street has really embraced the trend to produce fantastic versions in camel wool, shearling and military styles (see Topshop). 

I already have three black capes which I intend to recycle this season: a wool cape coat, and two vintage cropped capes, one in velvet and one in boucle wool.  In my dream world I would love to wear this belted beauty from Alexander McQueen:

Image from Net-a-Porter

And when I wake up I'll wear the one actually hanging in my wardrobe.  Bought a couple of years ago from the Kate Moss for Topshop range in the sales and also a belted style.  I remember watching as two women in Topshop turned it upside down, tried to work out the armholes and tugged at the belt before tossing it on the sale rail huffing “oh it’s just too weird!”  Reader.  I bought it.

Wool Cape - Kate Moss for Topshop

2. Which item in your closet is most likely to be your go-to transition piece?
By transition piece I am taking this to mean something that will take you through that tricky bridging period we go through from now until the cold really hits.  Believe it or not - it is what I normally consider a very boring but practical item - the parka!  But it is what I wear to take me through from now to winter.

We have been suffering tropical rain, wind and cold for more than a month but it is still not quite cold enough and way too muggy to crack out the furry gilets (vests) or a winter coat yet.  My transitional piece really needs to be something wind and water proof which protects me from the elements as I get from A to B in the city, but easily removed when it gets humid or to avoid meltdown when I descend into the all-year-round inferno that is the London underground system.

Londoners generally cope with the changeable transitional weather by wearing layers.  This is an art and quite tricky to get right without adding bulk and looking untidy.  As someone who really suffers when it gets cold, my biggest fashion challenge is getting this right.  Too often in a panic to keep warm I tend to give up on being stylish and go overboard on frumpy protective layers rather than wear something I actually like - I then spend the rest of the day regretting that I look like a stuffed sausage!  I've been desperate for a solution so I can ditch the frumpy layers and get more wear out of my other clothes.

For me a trench is often too thin and looks clumsy over too many layers.  The parka on the other hand keeps you dry and toasty warm, thus giving you more sartorial freedom to work your seasonal look of choice underneath it using less layers.  Trouble is I've never found a style of parka I feel good in up till now.  I find most parkas boringly utilitarian and their padding makes you look like the Michelin man!  The one I have been putting up with for years is too short to cover the longest hem of my layering knitwear, making my outfits look messy.  If I didn't have to wear one I wouldn't.

But a girl needs to be practical sometimes - soaked to the bone and freezing to death is not a fashion forward look either so a parka seems the lesser of two evils!  I was looking for a new parka that seemed to be the impossible dream - less puffa jacket, more streamlined frock coat.  And I found it this week! Never thought I'd get so excited about a parka.

I love that it is long enough to cover all the layers of knitwear I tend to wear now and pull together an outfit rather than fight it.  It has a satin finish and velvet trims which really aren't done justice in my photos. The insulating layer is thin but warm and there is no quilting, so it looks much sleeker than my old one.  But what really had me sold was its unusual shape -  a nipped in waist with a picked up hem to give the impression of a full skirt.  It reminds me of the silhouette of a Victorian lady wearing a crinoline skirt and bustle.

Long line parka by Iconoclast

3. What item from last year are you looking forward to reinventing this fall?
Many of last year’s trends have been repeated but just given fancy new names so we're spoilt for choice to get extra mileage out of last year's items.  Got a cape? See my answer to question one.  Lace? Easy, it never really went away after that Prada lace season in 2007/2008.  Leather?  It's now being called minimalism or dominatrix instead of Gothic depending on who you believe.  Thigh high boot languishing neglected?  See Burberry Prorsum for inspiration.  The shaggy cover up formerly known here as the "chubby" has been rebranded this season by one magazine as the "teddy bear coat".  And the trusty Mongolian sheepskin gilet is back again this year.  Wear one of these items and you are instantly current so I'll be pulling out all of mine this season.
But if there is one item I am really relishing reinventing it is the “tricky trouser,” as the fashion editors who have turned on it are now calling it.  You know the ones, the harem trousers, the oil slick leggings, peg legs, carrot legs.  Now this will be a challenge.  Let the fashion editors witter on about how they are dead!  I believe that you should just stick with things you like.  

All my favourite online retailers and the British high street certainly don’t seem to agree that their end is nigh and are still offering great harems and leggings this season so I'm still going to be wearing mine.  In fact I just bought a couple of new pairs of harems in luxuriously slinky finishes from the high street to add to my grey suede pair.  Perhaps it was an act of rebellion against having wide legged trousers constantly shoved down my throat.  Thank God for Balmain and Roberto Cavalli! The advocates for maximalism as a counterfoil to all that purity of form, camel and leg lengthening trousers out there this season.

Balmain AW 2010: Image from Style
Roberto Cavalli AW 2010: Image from Style

I recently watched this video on the Guardian website (How to dress: Wide-legged trousers) proclaiming Wide Legged Trousers as the new Party Dress.  God forbid!  I already own a version of every one of the trousers shown in this video as I have worked in conservative offices for years.  I have lived in sensible, leg lengthening, high waisted, wide-legged trousers during my working weeks out of necessity.  Now they are suddenly de rigueur!

Am I supposed to be enthusiastic about wearing a work wear staple in my time off when I could be wearing something more interesting instead??  I totally agree that they are flattering but this is hardly revolutionary.  I already knew where to get this miracle garment before Celine, Chloe and Stella sent them down the runway, and at much more sensible prices.  Now we have fashion editors going on about them as if they’ve suddenly discovered a cure for cancer!  Purleeeze! For my weekends I would like something a bit more rock and roll!

That’s why I love an anti-trouser – it’s the perfect antidote to office induced, sensible trouser fatigue.  I find harems super comfortable and love playing around with their deliberately distorted proportions in an outfit. And no matter how many times a fashion editorial says “Celine,” “ladylike is back,” and “tough chic is dead,” nobody is going to tear me away from my leather leggings any time soon!  Apart from being essential to work the Baroque and Roll Balmain look this season I'm also going to channel Isabel Marant's take on leather trousers by teaming with with a furry cover up or gold bomber jacket.

Isabel Marant AW 2010: Image from Style

4. What is your favorite part about this time of the year?
Although I love all the dressing up for the colder weather my favourite part is actually the food!  It is a myth that Britain has bad food – seasonal eating is so wonderful here.

Autumn for me means going blackberry picking with my boyfriend and later turning our spoils into blackberry and apple crumble to be eaten with lashings of thick clotted cream.  It means raiding our veggie patch for broad beans.  It means trips to Borough Market for seasonal goodies like wild mushrooms, ripening autumnal fruit, pumpkins, colourful autumn squashes and gourds, sweet corn and country game.  It means upgrading to creamy full fat milk from Jersey cows in our morning coffee for a Sunday treat with a full English breakfast.  Most of all I love warming up the flat when the mercury drops by cooking up a big roast or a hearty stew and inviting friends around to share.


5. Will you be attending any fashion events this fall?
I have the good fortune to be attending the trade shows at the upcoming London Fashion Week as an assistant buyer! I am soooo excited!!  I do this occasionally for a friend who owns a boutique who likes having a second opinion on what she stocks and it is always loads of fun.  I will be looking at what is on offer for Spring/Summer 2011 from some mainline European collections as well as several smaller design houses and I will be trying on lots of fabulous clothes.  Call this work?  I should be so lucky.  I intend to take my camera along to post and tweet so check back!


  1. Trade shows at London Fashion Week! How exciting!

    I agree with you on the cape - you have to have the right attitude to rock it. Otherwise you may end up looking totally crazy!

  2. Great post, you write so well! I have capes galore and although I always get looked at stragely shall continue to wear them with pride.
    I love foraging for autumn food, we've got lots of garden that's run wild and I've started harvesting blackberries today.
    Have fun at Fashion Week, you lucky lady. xxx

  3. wow, you leave little to be said...
    I only need a jacket where I live now; although I got myself a nice cashemire coat-cape.
    I do adore Autumn in England. I know the feeling of blackberry picking and making a pie or a crumbled afterwards.
    We are still 40ºc in the shade, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Autumn, Autumn when are you coming????

  4. @MJ - it can be a fine line between superhero and chic! Never stops me.

    @Vintage Vixen - Good to know I am in good company! Post some cape pics! I bet you have fab vintage ones.

    @sacramento - you know I actually miss the 40 degree heat in Spain!!! Did you live in England? Look forward to seeing a photo of your coat cape.

  5. What a great post, I love reading what you write, keep up the great work!
    P.S. So jealous you get to go to LFW! :)

  6. love this whole post! I don't see why ANYONE would try to turn wide leg work trousers into a party certainly won't be my new version of the lbd, let me tell ya! could make it easy to go from work to cocktails however, lol.

    lucky duck, have fun at lfw!

  7. Hey great minds think alike! I talked about capes too for FF. I don't actually have one though...I'm still on the hunt!

  8. Well, I'm waiting for that Sunday roast invitation! :-D

  9. Why don't I have a cape? I NEED a cape. Your writing is so beautiful and catchy. I just want to keep reading and reading, but then the post is over... So I caught up on some back reading from your blog. Lovely! I'm so glad to have found you through Modly Chic's Friend Friday!

    <3 Kim

  10. @Filipa - Thankyou! Amazed anyone reads it all!

    @Vonnie - I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds this idea lacklustre! LBD for me!

    @Kelly - hope you find one you like and please post when you do!

    @V - gotta cross that gaping North-South London divide honey! I'll check with the man for next roast-up dates and give you a bell x

    @Sadie's Momma - Thank you so much for your lovely compliment. I'm very touched and actually stunned anyone reads to the end of my posts. I feel guilty after publishing when I see how long they get! Get yourself a cape young lady! They are lovely to wear and they are warm. The best ones are vintage if you have vintage stores to trawl through and they are often less expensive.

  11. The cape is becoming big here too... We'll see how many people end up sporting it this year. I'm thinking it might be a Fall/Winter 2011 thing here in the US but we'll see. - Katy

    PS Thanks for participating.

  12. MMh, I loved your description of autumn eating in your home. I think we need some pictures of *that*.

    Your new parka is beautiful, indeed. I won't do puffy coats, either, even in the northwoods USA. I'll wear a trim princess-seamed wool walking coat, thank you... Just last year I also invested in a lightweight burgundy trench-style raincoat, too. I finally had to admit the wool coats and velvet blazers weren't helping me during thunderstorms.

  13. What a lovely idea: friendly friday! will read more thoroughly later, I'd love to do it, too. Just wanted to say a big thank you for your sweet comment! It's SUNNY, we're off to swim outside town. xo

  14. clotted cream and talks of Borough market brings back fond memories of London not to mention making my mouth water.

    "a panic to keep warm I tend to give up on being stylish and go overboard on frumpy protective layers rather than wear something I actually like - I then spend the rest of the day regretting that I look like a stuffed sausage!" <== that made me laugh out loud. for all the woot woot-ing i do about cooler temps, there are those PAINfully cold days when ya throw fashion out the window for warmth. :o)

    and the parka...gosh, who know a parka of all things could have SO much character! the pics definitely emphasize the bustle at the back which i think is absolutely delightful!

    loved this Friend Friday entry!!
    can't wait to hear all about your LFW event adventures!!
    bring on the rock n roll, anti-trews!!

  15. Lucky you...assistant wish I could have a life do-over sometimes!

    I'm on the hunt for leather leggings...with you. So hoping I can find the right pair at a reasonable price point. Glad you're in on Friend Friday!

    ♥ V

  16. I love capes but I admit I have not worn one since I was a child. I guess I need to invest in one STAT!

  17. This season`s Balmain & Cavalli collections are FANTASTIC.

    I love capes, too!


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