The Rites of Fall

Last week totally got away from me. We’d left the cool coastal weather for hot, steamy Austin and resumed normal, non-vacation life – which included discovering a dead car battery, a pool that was neon green, a wonky garage door, physicals, dental visits, haircuts and other end-of-summer transitions.

More than January, September always feels like the true beginning of a new year. For my husband, the return of fall football is his favorite ritual. For me, it’s all about curling up with the big September fashion magazines; the fatter, the better.

Every year, as I flip through the pages, I ask myself: 1) Who would be caught dead in these get-ups? and 2) What, if anything, can I (still) wear?

Stacy London, former host of What Not To Wear, recently wrote an impassioned piece about the challenges — sartorial and otherwise —  of being a woman in a society that doesn’t value aging. It’s hard to evolve your appearance in a way that feels truthful, relevant and flattering.

I’m not about to adopt a style that doesn’t suit me just because a magazine says it’s “in”. But reading about the latest trends gives me fresh perspective on stuff at the back of my closet that could potentially live to see another day, given a tweak or two.

The older I get, the more those “trends” start to seem like classics. Every September, the fashion bibles trot out some version of menswear plaid, Victorian heroine (velvet, lace), preppy chic and Goth black leather. This year, “athleisure” is still going strong and leopard is everywhere.

I’m not yearning for lace or embroidery, and I’ll limit black leather to coats and bags rather than heavy-metal biker outfits. Ah, but animal print? That’s the real me.

I first fell in love with leopard around 7th grade back in the 60’s. (Notice how fabulous Anne Bancroft looks in The Graduate and you’ll know why.) I’ve never stopped wearing it, though most years I confine my leopard obsession to shoes, scarves or other accessories. I’ve also considered giving it up, wondering if I’m too old to be flashy, but then I look at nonagenarian Iris Apfel’s exuberant ensembles and think, hey, who cares?

This year, I’m channeling my inner Kate Moss and looking for a full-on leopard print fake fur coat. It will be too hot in Texas to wear until December but I don’t care. It will keep me fashionably current, appeal to my inner glamour puss, look cool in my closet and add some verve to my dull everyday uniform of jeans and a sweater.

Rituals keep us connected to our history. My husband loves watching football as much as he loved playing the game in high school. And the September magazines remind me that playing with fashion is a way to have fun, feel inspired and reinvent myself – even if it’s only in my own mind.

Shop on!

5 thoughts on “The Rites of Fall

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