What Not to Wear, Just Yet


People who have time to contemplate such things usually count fall as their favorite fashion season. Extreme weather demands that we dress primarily to “deal with it.” So we are relieved to move beyond August, when sticky thighs attached themselves to subway seats, our hair was perpetually both matted and frizzy, our clothes rumpled and barely accessorized. Even worse is winter, when we reluctantly transform into a city of suicidal caterpillars, wrapped in sleeping bags, shuffling through sludge in the constant dark. But in between are the most alluring windows of opportunity.

In New York, it’s obvious every year who among us has trouble waiting to don her favorite new-season outfits, whether it’s a beloved ski sweater busted out on Labor Day or a brand new Armani spring coat popped on for Groundhog Day. In May, when that premature warm day comes, too many women flaunt their pasty legs, fresh from hibernation. As soon as the sun goes down, they are shivering, kicking themselves with blistered, sandaled feet. And even before the temperature ducks below eighty, knee-high boots come out in September, matched with the most oppressively autumnal tweed skirts. The clothes will be maroon and burnt orange before the leaves are.

When I called a stylist, David Tabbert, for some expert advice on how to avoid this tendency, his reaction was comforting and worrisome at once: “Oh, you mean how I’m literally wearing a long-sleeved shirt right now and thinking about how hot I am?” It was, at that moment, 84 degrees outside. “By the time summer’s done, I’m totally over it,” Tabbert admitted. “I’m all about a cardigan.” With Fashion Week just behind us, it’s hard to go back to our tired summer ensembles—we long for the feeling of being dressed, after the casual summer months.

Since most fashion rules are made to be broken (no white after Labor Day, navy and black don’t mix, etc.), we’re not going to attempt to set a new one here. This is just a plea, for your own good. For the next few weeks, before that real bite is palpable in the air, practice some self control. Before you leave the house in the morning, take a moment—count to ten if you have to—then try to assess whether your clothes look “transitional.” If not, mix it up a little—wear flats instead of boots with a trench coat. If you’re dying to debut a sweater, wear a t-shirt underneath so you can adjust when you realize how inappropriate that choice was. And if you suffer from weather dysmorphia—you really, really, think the temperature matches that wool military coat—you may need to utilize a buddy system: Lock it up and give someone else the key.

What do you plan on wearing in November, for God’s sake?

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 13, 2005

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