Wednesday, August 19, 2009

fall fashion basics

hesitating beauty
hesitating beauty by @chloe featuring American Eagle Outfitters

Well, I finally put together another polyvore with some styling ideas for the ladies following my blog (sorry to the few fellas who are reading ... share with lady friends if you want!).  This time around I kept in mind that you and I both are on limited budgets and kept all items under $100.  Also, they are all available in stores we have in Madison or easy-to-order websites.  Since we are moving into late summer and the weather will be turning cooler I tried to find pieces that were good for this transition time.  Usually this time of year I put a moratorium on buying anymore summer clothes and start looking for some good fall staples that I can wear now through late fall.  And then of course we hit mid-November and it's a parka and boots for the next six months ... oh, midwest winters, how we love (and by love I mean hate) you!  

Below are a few things that you should think about working into your wardrobe if you are looking for some options for this time of year.

1.  Grandpa cardigans.  My favorites come in lightweight knits that I can throw over a dress or a tank top for cool evenings in the summer.  And then when it starts to get cool they work well over long sleeve tees or button downs with a scarf and jeans.  The long line of the sweater is slimming and and they can't be beat for comfort!  The brands I have found that I like are Splendid ( or Anthropologie carries this brand), BDG from Urban Outfitters, Gap, and J. Crew).  The one shown below is from - I love it and they have a lot of others to choose from!

2. Jeans.  Okay, ladies, I know that finding jeans can be a seriously painful process.  The right rise, perfect length, your favorite wash, how your butt looks.  There are so many things that have to come together in the one piece of clothing that none of us can live without!  Oh, the pressure ...  I wish I had an easy answer to the eternal quest for the perfect jean but I will at least try to make a couple of suggestions on things to keep in mind: [1] I have found that if you are a little thicker around the middle a lower rise is better.  I used to think that a higher waist would hide my middle but honestly it just made me look thicker when I wore a fitted shirt.  A lower rise (and I don't mean Britney Spears low) creates a smoother silhouette (just make sure it doesn't give you a muffin top).  [2] Go with a darker rinse.  It is slimming and easier to dress up if you want to.  [3] Most jeans are made fairly long these days so be prepared to get them hemmed.  Make sure you have one pair hemmed for a heel and another for flats.  Bring your shoes with you to the tailor (Campus Tailors is the best and she charges about $15). Places like the Gap and American Eagle often do a long length and an ankle length if you don't want to pay an extra $15. [4] I generally feel that a wider leg or trouser jean is very flattering for girls with hips.  [5] I know most people cringe at the thought of the "skinny" jean but consider getting a pair just for wearing under boots.  It will be worth it because it is a great fall/winter look and you need a narrow jean to pull it off. [6] Avoid small back pockets.  Pockets that are a little bigger and wider set make your butt look better. [7]  Finally, I highly encourage everyone to save their bucks and invest in a pair of expensive jeans.  They are better made, a better fit, and you will wear them so much that you will get your moneys worth, trust me.  Some of my faves are Citizens of Humanity, Seven for All Mankind, Paige Premium Denim, and J. Brand.

3.  Scarves.  Everyone who knows me knows that I LOVE scarves.  They are hands down the easiest way to create interest in an otherwise basic outfit.  I have them in a bunch of colors and patterns and wear them pretty much all year round ... unless it is 90 degrees.  If you find one you like buy one in every color.  H&M has really inexpensive ones.

4.  Tall boots.  You can wear them with a skirt and bare legs while it is still warm and then add tights in the fall.  Also, like I said above, they are great over jeans or leggings.  Yes, leggings. Don't be afraid.  As long as you are wearing something long enough to cover your butt (and I prefer even a little longer than that) they are practically tights just a little heavier (which means warmer) and frankly, more comfortable than tights.  Boots can be expensive, but check the boot store and organize by price and I am sure there will be something to fit you budget.

5.  Tunics.  They work now with shorts or a pencil skirt.  And come fall, they are perfect with jeans (look for a 3/4 or full length sleeve for warmth).  Or you can wear them over a slim-fitting turtleneck when it gets really chilly.  The fact that they generally have a looser fit is great for covering up your middle.  There are cute tunics everywhere but the plaid one below (which I am going to buy!) is from American Eagle.

6.  A denim jacket.  Denim jackets may seem eighties but they really are timeless.  Just think of it like you would any other cool-weather jacket.  Wearing it with a dress toughens the look up a bit but you can also just wear it with a tee-shirt and shorts, pants, or a pretty full skirt (don't forget a scarf!). Though the fashion mags say you can wear denim on denim, I would avoid that ... too tough to pull off. 

7.  Pencil skirt.  If you wear skirts definitely invest in a pencil skirt.  They are super flattering and come in all kinds of fabrics.  I have a black heavy jersey one that I got from H&M that I wore all summer.  I also have a great denim one from Anthropologie that has cool fabric covered buttons down the front.  They are great if you have to dress up for work or can be worn with a tee for when you want to be casual.  They also are super sexy with heels and a blousy top for going out!  

8.  Bright colored accessories.  Handbags, earrings, necklaces, shoes ... the easiest way to use bright colors that you might not generally wear.  Target, H&M, and Forever 21 (coming soon to West Towne mall) have tons of inexpensive jewelry and bags.  Also, look for vintage jewelry at antique shops or even Goodwill.  Some of my best jewelry is stuff handed down to me from my elders and things that I have found at vintage shops (Annie's Vintage in Milwaukee is great!).  I generally think it is good to drop a little more cash on shoes if  you can, they last longer and are more comfortable. I like Seychelles ( for comfy wedges and J. Crew flats - both come in lots of fun colors.  Also, if you are on your feet a lot, Dansko clogs can't be beat and they have them in lots of colors (and patterns)!  Look for fun details in shoes too like ruffles, buckles, zippers, beading, or buttons!  

So, as you can see I am all about basics.  I think they are really the foundation for a great wardrobe and easier to pull together than a lot of trendy stuff.  I think trends are great (for the most part) but you kind of have to figure out what works for you (and don't spend a lot of money on them).  For example, I am into the oh-so-trendy plaid that is everywhere right now! But, it is the accessories that really make an outfit unique.  So, have fun with them.  Wear a lot or a little, but know that when you are keeping everything else simple you can't go wrong! 


  1. Love the selections. Especially love the local suggestions!

  2. Thanks for sharing such nice information about fall fashion basics.! Just got a beautiful fall dress from Spiegel.

  3. Jenifer -I will check out Speigel for some more ideas of wear to find my fall basics! Thanks!