Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Looks like fall

I'm sharing this outfit mainly because I want to discuss the intricacies of dressing for fall, so let's get the outfit description out of the way quickly. It was warm yesterday, so I went with sandals, a very airy cap-sleeve sweater, and a skirt. As far as the construction, it's all summer clothes, but the color choices are another story. With a brick red shirt, a skirt in various dark and rusty hues, and a orange shoes, I'm the very picture of autumn. It was probably one of the last really warm days we'll have this year (yes, I'm still saying that!) so I wanted to dress for the weather but give a nod to fall.

Speaking of fall (hello, artful segue into what I truly wanted to talk about!), I'm really struggling with how and when to make my seasonal switch this autumn.

Though we've had plenty of cold days since the end of August, there has not been a single full week of temperatures below 75 (my usual cutoff point). We came very close, with a 6-day stretch in each of September and October, but then, both times, it bounced right back up into the 80's. I'm getting so bored with my selection of summer clothing, and so tired of trying to figure out new ways to layer long-sleeved tops over my summer dresses, and basically so desperate to make a change... but I just can't bear to put away my summer clothes when summery days are still popping up at least once a week!

To understand why I feel so strongly about holding onto my summer wardrobe at all costs (even though I'm tired of everything in it), you must understand that I really just loathe dressing for cold. 

I'm an (un)fashionista—I put great effort into looking good at all times, and I just don't feel like winter clothes are very flattering. The warmer the fabric, the thicker the fabric...and the thicker the fabric, the bulkier it makes you look. That, compounded with the fact that you're usually covering more of your body, is a recipe for turning the most lithe and graceful form into a hulking blob. And don't even get me started on my massive shoulders—the way things drape off them, it swamps the rest of my body, which means that basically any garment with sleeves is going to add about 3 sizes to my frame. 

But my distaste for winter clothing goes beyond just vanity—it's also a simple matter of quality of life!

I hate wearing clothes with sleeves because they restrict how I can move—I feel confined in them, like I'm a prisoner in my own clothing. If I wear fitted blouses or blazers, I can neither raise my arms fully nor pull them all the way forward. And sleeves are always getting in the way, doing things like dangling into my food while I'm eating and getting soaked when I wash my hands. 

Furthermore, in cool weather, I can never find a level of coverage I'm comfortable with. Although I get cold very easily, I also get sweaty very easily. No matter what I wear, if it's warm enough to keep me warm when I'm sitting still, it's going to be too hot when I'm moving. So in the winter, I'm fighting a constant battle not to sweat all over my sweater and turn into a odorous ogre by lunchtime.

In conclusion, cold-weather clothing stinks. Side note: when people say they're looking forward to fall because they want to wear "cozy sweaters," I sincerely want to slap them. If I never had to wear a cozy sweater again in my life, that would be my idea of a perfect world. But alas, the world isn't perfect, cold-weather clothing is a necessary evil, and it's one which I'm going to have to begin wearing in fairly short order.

So when am I going to do it? I don't have to put away my summer clothes before I start getting out my fall ones. I can do a partial switch as I did last spring, saving the new ones until the official week-of-75-degrees cutoff has arrived, but bringing out only last year's transitional clothes earlier. But I need to set a time when it's OK to do the partial switch.

Right now we've had 14 total days with highs under 75 degrees. Should two cumulative weeks be cause to bring out the fall clothes? Should three?

Should I wait until I've worn all of the transitional clothes in my backup stash? The problem with that is I've worn none of them, but they are so boring that I don't want to! The other problem with that, and another factor that I need to rethink as I plan my seasonal wardrobe, is that they are mostly clothing that's entirely unsuited to transitional weather. They are mostly 3/4 sleeve tops. Seems like a good compromise between hot weather (short or no sleeves) and cold weather (full sleeves), right? Not at all! When the weather outside isn't quite frightful, that's when the weather in our basement office is the chilliest—because, as I've mentioned before, it's still warm enough in the upper stories of our building that maintenance will not turn on the heat. In the winter, when I can crank the temperature up to my heart's content, I could easily be comfortable in short sleeves. But in the fall, when I'm at the mercy of the people on the fourth floor, I have to wear long sleeves and gloves! (I blame that on my desk, which seems to just suck the heat right out of any skin touching it). So really, my 3/4 sleeve tops are the worst possible choice for this time of year—too skimpy on their own, but too bulky to layer over.

Right now I'm thinking that I'll go ahead with the full switch as soon as there are no more days predicted to be warmer than 80 degrees. That might be as soon as this Sunday. Until then, I'm sure I can get by, if needed, on knit caftan tops, arm warmers, and lots of layering. And if I decide to change my mind and define another threshold, well, it won't be the first time, and it probably won't be the last.

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