If there’s one thing we know about post-Labor Day fashion, it’s that you put your whites away, right? Well, not so fast, say the fashion experts. It depends on where you live.
It’s not until “after October that people put away the white slacks and shorts here,” says Lucretia Hawkridge, manager of Mark, Fore & Strike, an upscale retailer in Sarasota, FL.
But in Needham, MA, professional image expert Mary Lou Andre follows conventional wisdom: “It’s still best to pack white linens away after Labor Day.” With the exception of white sneakers, Andre recommends putting “white shoes, sandals, and denim” into hibernation for the [fall and] winter.”
Forget the pantyhose and wear open-toe shoes until the first frost.
According to Hawkridge, you can make an easy transition by replacing whites with slightly darker, earthier colors. Even lighter linens will get you through the early fall months–as long as you avoid colors like passion pink and Easter egg blue. “If you have beige or other neutral bottoms,” she says, “you can just add fall colors in the form of tops and scarves. Very often by default, people have the very basic colors of black, navy, and gray for the bottoms.”
Lisa Cohen of OnlyReal.com asked several models and fashion experts “for their tips on making the transition from warm weather to cool.”
- Natalie Laughlin, model and fashion director of OnlyReal.com is “a big fan of soft one- or two-ply cashmere [for fall]. It’s lightweight, stylish, and great for traveling.”
- Michele Weston, author of Learning Curves: Living Your Life in Full and With Style finds the “classic twinset [sweater and shell] in lightweight wool has a lot of versatility. When it’s cold, you can wear them together, or when it’s warmer wear the shell alone. Both pieces look good paired with everything from jeans to dressy skirts.”
- Fashion model Jude Swann doesn’t stow her “sleeveless dresses–especially the ones in black, gray, or khaki. To make the look more seasonal, I’ll throw a sweater or shawl around my shoulders.”
- What about those long and lovely legs you tanned over the summer? Do you have to cover them with heavy hose once the leaves turn? “Forget the pantyhose and wear open-toe shoes until the first frost,” challenges Diana Chibas, a lingerie designer.
Along the same lines, Andre suggests wearing chunky black and brown sandals that offer more coverage across the foot. They make a “better transitional sandal choice than ‘strappier’ styles, which automatically scream summer.”
Hosiery Can Help
In corporate America, the shoe rule is a little different. “Once Labor Day passes,” says Mary Nelen, formerly Lord & Taylor staffer, “you’ll find most women in corporate America in closed-toe shoes.”
Yet some consultants believe that pantyhose can be positive. “As soon as fall and winter roll around, pantyhose and thicker tights start to get really interesting. Out come all of the rich autumn tones, the intricate patterns, and luxurious textures…” says Betty Halbreich, co-author of Secrets of a Fashion Therapist. Halbreich suggests matching the “color of the pantyhose with the color of the top. For example, a dark green sweater set, black skirt, dark green tights. It helps to pull the whole look together as an outfit.”
Men in Transition
Whether in corporate America or more casual environments, men can take their seasonal clues from the color palette, says Hawkridge. “Darken up the ties and wear darker plaids and sweaters,” she explains. For the business casual look, she suggests heavier and/or long-sleeved jerseys and light, brushed cotton shirts. For warmth, add a vest and sport lightweight corduroy pants. Throw on a sweater to make the transition a snap.
Wrapping Up the Summer
One of the smartest ways to make the switch from summer fall starts with moving and cleaning summer clothes. “Even if clothes appear clean, invisible stains (especially in light-colored linen and cotton) can turn into permanent spots by the time you take them out to wear next summer,” says Andre. And the other half of the closet project is making room and organizing your closet for the autumn set.
If you organize your closet with autumnal items front and center, they’ll be easier to grab, making it easier to catch the 7:05 into town. And that’s when fashion sense really makes sense!