Fall is the season when designers unveil the major groundbreaking trends that will shape what we wear well into the new year and perhaps even beyond. (Remember when round-toed shoes became big a couple fall seasons ago and never disappeared?) Some trends come and go, but there are some classic pieces that will take you through many seasons in style.
I always get annoyed by magazine lists of the classic items that every woman should have in her closet because wardrobes aren't exactly a case of one size fits all. Suits, for example. Unless you're in a really conservative work environment like law or banking or you deal with corporate movers and shakers on a daily basis, suits can make you look overdressed for work. My workplace doesn't even have a dress code. So the list here is a list of the cold weather essentials I've come to rely on over the past few years, or items I've succumbed to this season that I can envision wearing later on. (All illustrative examples are from Bluefly unless otherwise specified. I can't hold my camera with a steady hand to save my life, so no pictures of my versions of these items.)
1. A distinctive tailored coat (Kenneth Cole coat, $163.19). When the mercury drops, coats become the indispensable outermost layer of any outfit, so one that makes a statement and fits you well is essential. After all, when you're out and about, coats make the first impression. I love patterns like plaid and houndstooth and distinctive colours like red and fuschia; my own winter peacoat is a double-breasted bright pink number. For neutrals, black and winter white are always safe bets. Regardless of the colour or pattern, definitely look for one that fits well and cinches in at the waist to give you an hourglass figure, and details (oversized buttons, piping) that make the coat look unique and luxe.
2. High black leather boots with a low heel (White Mt. Marcus boots from www.zappos.com, $88.95). Boots keep your legs from feeling too exposed and chilly in cold weather, and shield you from soaking wet jeans when it rains. I recently took the plunge and bought a pair of boots that looks very similar to this pair. Because I take public transit and walk around the city a lot, I like a low or flat heel. After all, if your boots are comfortable you're more likely to want to wear them often! Another reason why a low heel makes for a classic boot: you can wear the boots during the day and to work without people thinking you look trampy. Black leather and knee-high or near knee-high styling make this pair a classic choice, and the buckles are a nice detail.
3. Black and brown tights (Falke cotton touch tights from www.mytights.com, $10.63). Even with boots, I always find that my legs get cold when I wear skirts. Tights solve that problem. Textured and patterned tights are very popular this season, but for a classic pick, nothing beats basic opaque black and brown. Get two pairs in black and two in dark brown, and you're good to go for the rest of the season.
4. A fully lined skirt in a heavy fabric like tweed or wool (Tocca skirt, $132). The lining gives the skirt an additional layer, makes it look fuller, and keeps the skirt from rubbing against your tights or pantyhose and clinging (hello, static electricity). I have a green plaid A-line skirt I recenty rediscovered hiding in my closet. It looks great wiith boots, tights, a black wrap cardigan, and a red cami to bring out the red in the skirt's pattern.
5. A soft sweater (Park Vogel sweater, $100). Okay, every woman must have at least one sweater lurking in their closet somewhere. I love sweaters; there's something so classic about them, and they're definitely a more stylish option than, say, polar fleece or sweats! The deep V styling on this one is nothing new, but the colour combination (light green and purple) and the stripes make it look fresh. For chillier days, I would layer a cami in a deeper shade of purple underneath so that the deep purple is just peeking out over the top of the V.
6. A cozy luxe-feeling hoodie (Le Tigre hoodie, $46). Old student habits die hard, and I still consider a hoodie in dense, soft material to be a cold weather essential. Graphic and embellished hoodies are quite popular this season; pick one with pretty floral or nature motifs rather than something really juvenile (big colourful hearts) or trendy (skulls) and it won't look dated next year.
7. Coordinated but not perfectly matching hat, scarf, and gloves (Kashmere scarf, $65; Portolano gloves and toque, $37 and $47). Your knit accessories should coordinate with your outerwear and with each other, but matching them perfectly isn't necessary. In fact, I think that hats, gloves, and scarves that are perfectly matched look a little boring. For hats, I favour toques because they stay in place and they camouflage bad hair days. I like versions with a pompom on the top or an applique on the side so that they don't look too bland or utilitarian.
8. A cardigan (Marc Jacobs cardigan, $214). Although it may be chilly outside, office environment temperatures are often unpredictable. Maintenance could decide to crank the heat up one day and leave you freezing the next, so a cardigan to layer over a top is always a good idea in the workplace. Unlike a normal sweater, taking off and putting on a cardigan won't mess up your hair.
9. Sassy yet weatherproof sneakers (Puma sneakers from www.zappos.com, $73.95; see more pictures of them here.) Although I love my Kitson canvas slip-ons as much as the next girl loves her Vans, canvas doesn't do much for you in cold weather. Ten minutes in rain or slush and your feet will be soaked for the rest of the day and your shoes ruined. I personally prefer casual leather sneakers that cover your entire foot for the fall and winter. I also tend to stay away from suede for shoes in general because it's higher maintenance and easier to ruin than leather.
10. A short, sporty, and waterproof jacket (Kenneth Cole Reaction quilted down jacket, $96). With jeans, on weekends, or when you feel that a wool coat is too dressy or fussy, a short jacket with a waterproof outer shell is fantastic. The quilting on this one gives you shape and streamlines the puffiness of the down lining.