Fall is here!
Wait... not quite... oh there it is again!... oh, it's gone again...
I've been struggling hard these last couple weeks to stay comfortable outside. And I spend a lot of time outside.
As a college student, I do a lot of walking from air-conditioned buildings into heatwaves and then into the meat locker that is the campus library. I arrive early in the morning and I leave at dinner-time, and I'm in and out from class to class throughout the day. Every. Day.
It's a nightmare to figure out what to wear simply from a practical point of view.
That's what I've decided to share a few solutions I've worked out to accomodate the temperature swings as summer putters out and autumn finally dips her timid toes into 2017.
The best tool I've found is to think of my clothing as modular pieces (capsule-style). Think IKEA, but clothes.
T-shirt Dress Two Ways
I chose this dress (it was a birthday gift from my mom-in-law - yes, she's the coolest) because it was soft-soft, felt like the nicest t-shirt I'd ever felt, but it was just longer and a great olive green. It was so comfy, I knew I would wear it - plus it would contribute to my Super Secret Evil #howtoalwaysbeinpajamas Master Plan.
But I never realized how versatile it could be until I started playing around with knotting. I found I could apply the same ideas for knotting regular t-shirts to my longer-pajama-t-shirt-ahem-dress and it would become a top or tunic just like that.
Here, I've paired it with my new trousers from LinenFox and oooh, baby. I love these pants. I've also added a second-hand denim jacket (thanks, Aunt Sharon!) and some handmade flats from China. And my bookbag. Because it never leaves my side.
The idea here is that I've got four layers of clothing as the day progresses. My legs and arms are covered at first, then as it gets hotter I can start peeling them like an onion. Just like my mom taught me.
The problem I've always come across, though, is what to do with all the clothes I still have to carry around.
The pants are lightweight (this would also work great with leggings) enough to simply fold and toss into a purse - even a small one. That's what I love about this outfit - it's actually doable.
Classic Flannel-as-a-Jacket (i.e. How to 90's your way through 2017)
We've all seen this one before, but sometimes I just need a reminder that I don't have to have a proper cardigan or jacket in order to have another layer at my disposal.
Honestly, I'm somewhat new to button-ups as a consistent staple in my wardrobe, so changing my thinking and lumping it in for now with cardigans makes it easier for me to expand its usefulness. Plus, a genuine flannel top is actually warm enough to masquerade as a cardigan but lighter to wrap around my waist when I inevitably start sweating midday.
This one is from Tradlands, and I don't expect I'll be needing to replace it for, oh, the next couple decades or so. It's that good, folks. I've paired it with some thrifted jeans and this Everlane tee, plus some handmade boots and a handmade necklace I got while in China.
Socks 'n' 'Stocks
Yeah, I stole my husband's hiking socks. No, they don't fit.
It's not necessarily that I'm recommending this as a high-fashion fix, but more that I'm offering up another solution that I use from time to time.
Yeah, it's a bit camper-meets-college-kid, but this is my real life, folks. This solution helps me out a lot on those days when my feet freeze in the frost as I trot onto campus at 6:30am in 57° weather and then fry in the heat at 3:00pm, when the temperature has risen to 89°. I live in Tennessee, where everyone grows up hearing the same phrase: "If you don't like the weather, just stay for a couple hours and it'll change."
So, socks with Birks it is sometimes. (You can check out my review of my Birks here.)
And I think what's worth considering more than these particular solutions is the idea of finding solutions to life's curve balls by stretching our items past their default uses.
A year or two ago, I would never have thought to tie up a dress and wear it as a tunic or top, or to wear sandals in any season other than summer, sock-less.
The point of this exercise is to challenge the limits we see on our items' adaptability and applicable uses to avoid over-purchasing and avoid getting bored at the same time.
Hopefully, these examples can spark ideas for how to stretch your items past their defaults and let them truly shine. If you've got any go-to modular ideas, please send them my way - I'm taking all the help I can get!
P.S. - Other ideas I did not include in this post were layering sweaters over dresses, because I haven't actually tested that one out yet, and the myriad of versatile uses of blanket scarves.
P.P.S. - Looking for more ideas? Jaana from This Mom's Gonna Snap has a great warm-fall-days outfits post here, and Karin from Truncation Blog has some great thoughts on versatility and creativity in our wardrobes here.