In very late August, we always head 300 miles north to visit my husband’s family in Northumberland. It’s always cooler, windier and greyer up there, with autumn arriving brashly early, like the impolite party guest who catches the host unawares. It’s something that I always fail to take into sartorial consideration, much to the amusement of my Geordie in-laws – when we arrived at one family barbecue, this soft Southerner was handed a blanket to put across my knees, nana-style. And so I’ve come back home with a suitcase of unworn sundresses, sandals and, ahem, a bikini; a triumph of hope over experience once again.
I may never learn, but we don’t have to say goodbye to summer just yet, do we? Dusk may be arriving alarmingly early and days are once again all about school runs and deadlines BUT it is still T-shirt weather outside. Well, when it isn’t raining, that is. The shops are filling up with puffer jackets, lashings of tweed and velvet and thigh-high boots (hmm), but who can bear to think of these wintry pieces just yet, let alone try them on in boiling changing rooms?
I prefer to eke out another month or so of my summer wardrobe and this is where transitional fashion comes in – boring name, useful concept. In a nutshell, you take your summer look and tweak it for the encroaching autumn, easing yourself emotionally – and financially (who can afford an entire new winter wardrobe?) – into the new season. It’s also where Pinterest comes in – I’ve been creating a board of transitional style ideas. As well as pinpointing specific new pieces, it’s a brilliant way of collating my online people-watching (well, outfit-watching, strictly speaking) – things like Alexa Chung pimping her summer cut-offs for cooler climes by wearing them over black opaques, with an oversized cardi chucked on top. Remember doing this in the 90s? It’s been a while, but I might give it another whirl.
I prefer to eke out another month or so of my summer wardrobe, and this is where transitional fashion comes in – boring name, useful concept. It’s where Pinterest comes in – I’ve been creating a board of transitional style ideas
Today, meanwhile, I’m wearing the loose denim dress that’s barely left my back in months but, for the first time, I’ve put it with tan leather ankle boots, rather than Birkenstocks. It means puddles aren’t a problem and my faded summer pedicure is out of sight, out of mind. You can get more mileage out of most sundresses this way – and it serves to de-pretty and ground ultra-summery numbers. I especially like a white broderie anglaise dress or a ditzy floral one punctuated with black ankle boots and biker jacket. If you haven’t got the latter, a dark-coloured bomber or beat-up denim jacket creates the same effect.
Speaking of jackets, at this time of year I reinstigate my endless quest for a waterproof hooded jacket for school runs/ weekend errands that is actually stylish. For days when it’s not raining, you’re spoilt for choice this year – there are countless coatigans (another bad word, but good idea; try Mint Velvet) and sleeveless coats to throw over a T-shirt and jeans.
I’m also currently foraging for lightweight cashmere jumpers – nothing fancy, just simple crew necks in navy, grey and black; the kind of wardrobe basic that extends the lifespan of summer culottes, jumpsuits and cropped trousers. Again, they’re weirdly hard to find, but I’ll start off at Uniqlo or M&S menswear (for a looser fit than the women’s ones).
Then there are scarves. As far as I’m concerned, the only rubbish thing about summer (apart from wasps) is that it’s too hot to wear a scarf. I buy a new one every autumn, poring over patterns, prints and colour palettes. I tend to plump for Whistles but, if I was the kind of person who could drop 200 quid on a small square of fabric, I’d go for one of Athena Procopiou’s beautifully drawn designs that bring to mind a nonchalant bohemian jetsetter (I can but dream). The beauty of a scarf is that it warms your neck when the mornings start getting chilly, jazzes up denim and muted outfits, hides the fact you’ve dropped your breakfast down the top and signals that you’ve made a teensy bit of an effort.
So, there it is: no need to bid adieu to summer style quite yet; rather, give it a last hurrah. But do keep a nana blanket tucked in your bag at all times – just in case you get invited to a Geordie barbecue.
Click through to Kerry’s Pinterest board here.