Come Saturday, the calendar will flip over the September and dreams of festival chic and tousled hair will start to drop away with the leaves.
Come Saturday, the calendar will flip over the September and dreams of festival chic and tousled hair will start to drop away with the leaves. Although gifted with a reptilian circulatory system that cheers at heightened temperatures, the fusty confines of the latter months are where my sartorial heart lies.
Those who have spent time in classrooms learning about post-colonial studies will be aware of the problems surrounding reductive explanations regarding race and national identity, yet I should admit to conjoining my A/W fixation to something called ‘Britishness’. Perhaps, I tell myself, it is my inherent prudishness (do those who know me concur?), which makes me embrace the covering of skin. Or maybe it is the cheese and ale gluttony that is more excusable, and more concealable, under a few layers of wool and fur. Or, more simply, it is – as everything eventually is – the fault of the weather. As an English girl, not only do I have much more use for mackintoshes and galoshes, but also never feel entirely at ease without them near to hand, for rain is always lurking around the corner.
It may be a mixture of all three of these slightly perverse explanations, blended with something marginally primal: a desire to be protected. Like the desire to craw under the covers when heartbroken or damaged, wrapping up in a big wooly jumper and striding out in riding boots makes me feel more capable of attacking the world, less vulnerable to eyes and jibes. My grandmother once told me that her mother had shared the sentiment with her that all clothes were ‘armour’, and whilst I agree immensely, I find it less easy to adhere to when thinking of flitting about in something short and floaty.
Additionally, from my vantage point in Somerset, there is something more truthful about Autumn/Winter clothes. The colours depicted in them – this season including a pallet of gothic violets, sunset oranges and Pre-Raphaelite greens – have their counterparts outside my front door. This, coupled with the utilitarian nature of a pair of study boots or a good wool coat, lessens the guilt of an autumnal purchase. Acquiring summer dresses or the kind of pashmina that would look good on a Venetian gondola is, for most of us, tinged with fantasy and princess daydreams. Buying ribbed wool tights like you attend St. Trinians is not.
For a friend of mine, stuck deciding between a life in Dubai and a life in the UK, the purchasing of clothes has taken on an added significance. Start buying woolens and she is choosing England; snap up the last of the summer sales and she’ll be returning to the sunshine.
In some ways, this is a fitting decision catalyst, for there is something in the winter months, and the clothes we wear during them, which bespeak homecoming and hibernation. At heart, this may be the reason why I devour fashion more readily half the year round; I feel like I am coming back to myself. No more futile dreaming about having long, tanned legs to glide across a beach on, no more frights looking in the mirror at wobbly white arms. I will hide amongst the moss stitch and get lost in lengths of leather. Autumn/Winter: welcome home.