no Know what you think. Why should you care about fashion at a time like this? The country is in mourning. We are heading into a terrible winter with an untested prime minister. The fall water cooler conversation is about energy bills, not hemlines. No one in their right mind has any bandwidth to worry about trends.
But let me put it another way. Can you do it with pleasure? Maybe you need to think carefully about how to keep warm as the weather gets colder? As we suddenly fall from summer into deep darkness, isn’t it the worst idea to remember that there are some good things about autumn?
What is the power to cheer you up, to warm you, to help change the season in a way that puts a spring in your step? Fashion, that is. The new season this September isn’t about blink-and-you’ll-miss-it trends—it’s about smartly chosen pieces you’ll wear for years to come, and classic pieces you may already have in your wardrobe. I present to you a quick guide to mood-lifting, thermostat-boosting, wallet-friendly new season fashion.
Call it dopamine dressing, call it tired: adding clothing to boost your mood is a major shift in the way we think about clothing. No longer a slave to fashion, instead your clothes are working hard to support and flatter you. Color is a very powerful tool in good mood fashion. If you want to get technical about it, scientific studies suggest that color can positively modulate your mood. Red, orange, and yellow, long-wavelength colors, send messages to your brain to be friendly and active; Blue and green, shorter wavelength colors, lead you to calmness. But really, the right color to wear is the one that makes you smile – as simple as that. Barbie pink is the color of the season, and the wall-to-wall pink Valentino show at Paris Fashion Week showed off the new lights in a very elegant and sophisticated way. But Gemma Hyde, head of design at Whistles, argues leaning towards traditional rich autumn shades because these look beautiful year after year. “Rich decorative tones – bright greens, hot chocolate, bold heather and tomato orange – create exciting pieces that will be loved in our wardrobes for seasons to come,” she says.
“Oh, it’s always color for fun,” says Una Joyce, director of womenswear at Reyes. Rees is a lot of clothing for adults, which until recently meant a lot of monochrome and neutrality, but this season the store is a rainbow of colors. Highlights include a pair of burnt-orange trousers, a coral silk shirt and separates in zingy apple green. Jigsaw’s creative director Joe Sykes is digging citrine and electric blue, as well as Schiaparelli pink. At Boden, where loafers are the new staple shoe from day to dark – stylish with jeans, perfect with dress pants, comfortable, what’s not to love? – Davina O’Neill, the brand’s head of womenswear design, suggests “pairing them with colored socks to make them really pop.”
Color can help you avoid overcrowding in charity shops and antique boutiques. Rails packed with clothes from different periods and styles can be difficult to navigate, but you can create a manageable list by letting your eye guide you to the colors that speak to you. When shopping secondhand, look for cowboy boots and varsity jackets. Both have a high fashion moment. Cowboy boots are everywhere from the Hermès catwalk to Dua Lipa’s Instagram. Varsity jackets, a favorite of the late Virgil Abloh, make them an off-duty Princess-Diana-style street cat. And you’ll find cooler, more original cowboy boots and varsity jackets pre-loved than you in any high street store.
The high cost of living has made versatility a trend. At this time of year, when the temperature can rise and fall, the best clothes are all about coats. “Our collections are made to last,” says Karen Peacock, who co-founded the independent British brand Albaray with two ex-warehouse directors. “Adding a few thoughtful, well-made and hard-working pieces will energize your look, boost your confidence and add some sparkle.” If she buys one new piece this season, she recommends a sleeveless sweater. (Albarray has a delicious Fair Isle version for £59.) For the ultimate in versatility, check out British brand Me + M, whose level of attention to detail is second to none. Many of the sweaters, including the luxe merino cashmere chevron cable sweater (£150), come with a detachable, buttoned snood that converts from a crew neck to a comfortable turtleneck. And it works perfectly.
Pants suit is having a moment, a high impact look like you get to wear a whole lot more than a party dress. At John Lewis, the new director of fashion design, Queralt Ferrer, is front and center for the first time. (There’s one in hot pink, if that’s your thing; I’ve got my eye on a double-breasted version in deep forest green – £120 for the jacket, £79 for the wide-leg trousers.) “A hard worker. “wardrobe staples” are the ones that work now, says Ferrer. “We thought about the countless ways our customers could wear each piece at different times in their lives.” Across the highway, Marks and Spencer agrees that it’s pantsuit time. “The suit can work day or night, plus the pants with a sweater, and the jacket with jeans – there are so many options,” says Maddy Evans, womenswear director.
Boden O’Neill suggests investing in a party dress instead of a party dress this year. Boden’s metallic tulle tiered dress, £90, works with an old sweater and your favorite boots for an autumn weekend.
This year’s big fashion story was the transition from the ultra-casual vibe of the locked-down era to smart dressing. That’s how we got from track pants to sweat pants. Go coat shopping, and you’ll clearly see this shift in how stores sell outerwear. The go-to look is usually a double layer, something warm and casual (a hoodie or a puffer jacket) with a smart, light trench coat, or something a little fancy, like a pink and brown jacquard wool coat with resin and crystal buttons, by fashion editor Erica Davis. If collected for John Lewis. (That coat costs £280, but if you feel good enough, you can tell everyone it’s vintage Prada and they’ll believe you.) We imagine a coat would be more practical if it’s warmer, but that’s not the case in the British climate: it works on its own but can be stacked when it’s really cold. A coat is a worthwhile three-season purchase.
Fears about fuel bills mean heating will be an issue both indoors and outdoors this season. If you’re going out to dinner with friends, say, and don’t want to be trapped by a dialed-up thermostat, it might be a good idea to opt for a long-sleeved top over a camisole. John Lewis has a super cute vampire’s wife next door long sleeve slim fit with frill collar and flared sleeves in teal velvet. Susie Jenkinson, head of M&S underwear, said: “We know customers want a warm cover-up for nights on the sofa.” A 360-degree stretch velor knit pajama that looks like a jumbo cord but has the softness of a marshmallow looks like a good investment.
Longevity in clothing is not just about staying out of fashion, it’s about staying out of fashion. Flaky pieces are quick and easy. Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up, hurry up, hurry up Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up, hurry up, hurry up They are not too soon. “We’ve put out a lot of flares and skirts this season,” says Joyce at Rice, one of the many places that have made the classic silk dress central to their fall offering. A stylish, slip-on shirt in a bold color will serve you well now and is a mood-boosting investment for the future. If you’re more of a shirt than a shirt, Sykes of Jigsaw recommends a crisp white shirt with deep cuffs. Both can be adjusted for heat. Oh, and you might have one in your wardrobe. There are many things to be ashamed of. But what you wear definitely shouldn’t be one of them.