How to style out autumn

Bec Oakes 12 September 2021

With the herald of a new season, here's how to channel the spirit of the "September-start-again" into your wardrobe

Growing up, I lived in delicious anticipation of each September. After the lazy post-exam days of summer, it was a time to start anew; to do up my top button and get back into work mode. There was something quite invigorating thinking about what the new school year might bring.

And, with the return to school came back-to-school shopping, a task I took very seriously. From immaculate patent leather shoes to a skirt with the perfect placement of pleats, nothing was overlooked. I even took pleasure in finding a pencil case that coordinated with my new Jane Norman messenger bag. My new school wardrobe came with a sense of rejuvenation and I felt ready to put my best Mary Jane-clad foot forward for the upcoming year.

While those years may long be over, the distinctive rhythm of the school year remains. And, according to Elle, September is firmly established as the “thinking person’s January”— a time when, fresh from the relaxation of a long lazy summer, we’re ripe for rejuvenation and ready for a change of pace.

Autumn fashion garments

This is no more prevalent than within fashion. September brings with it a new season and the autumn/winter collections are hitting the shops at full force. It’s also show season, a four-week whirlwind during which the world’s most influential designers reveal their latest collections. And every fashion magazine on the shelf at your local newsagent includes their definitive guide to the season’s key trends.

For anyone who loves clothes, it’s like a new school term and for that you need a new uniform. September remains a time to “new-seasonify” your life and update your wardrobe accordingly.

It’s swapping summer sandals for an on-trend loafer; a shapeless linen dress for a tailored wool blazer. It’s knitwear and layering. It’s ankle boots and outerwear.

It’s a new shape of handbag, a different colour palette, a fresh haircut to complement the new clothes and a new lipstick to complement the new hair.

With the wake of the pandemic leaving many of us in a bit of a style rut—during the first lockdown, I rarely changed out of my pyjamas—there truly is no better time to harness the power of the September start-again and give our wardrobes a well-deserved refresh. To move beyond the stoic practicality and comfort of our lockdown wardrobes, step outside our comfort zones and embrace the fun and frivolity of fashion once again.

"With the wake of the pandemic leaving many of us in a bit of a style rut, there truly is no better time to harness the power of the September start-again"

The autumn/winter collections provide the perfect opportunity to do so, presenting an energetic and vibrant antidote to the past 18 months. Sure, there were lingering notes of lockdown life, with cosy knitwear at Fendi and Altuzarra, practical rubber-soled boots at Bottega Veneta and variations of the trusty puffer coat at the likes of Khaite and Isabel Marant.

But at the same time, the AW21 collections were overwhelmingly optimistic, primed and ready for the reopening of the world. As Julien Dossena said of his party-centric collection for Paco Rabanne: “It’s just about girls enjoying themselves, releasing that vibration of genuine pleasure.”

A girl throwing autumn leaves in the air

Dense, saturated tones across a number of collections presented a much-needed reprieve from the black leggings and grey sweatshirts we’ve lived in for the past year. And, rather than one standout hue, we saw a whole spectrum of colours—from electric yellow at Versace to cobalt blue at Prada and hot pink at Balmain. Wear one colour from head to toe for maximum impact.

And, fashion got into the party spirit with crystals, sequin and sparkle dominating the collections of designers from across the globe. Some kept it subtle. Valentino added large disc sequins to classic monochrome looks and Dries Van Noten dialled up simple silhouettes with sequins and bright colours.

Others took a much more maximalist approach, like Area, whose signature crystals trimmed trouser pockets, dripped from denim shorts and covered bras worn under tartan blazers.

"Feeling brave? The memo is: skin is in"

Feeling brave? The memo is: skin is in. Cutouts were seen everywhere from Givenchy to Self-Portrait to Emilia Wickstead. Beyond being a major trend in partywear, they also added subtle sex appeal to more casual knitted tops and sweaters.

And, on both skirts and dresses, hemlines are looking short… really short. The micro mini has returned at full force, as seen at Versace (naturally) and Lanvin, amongst others.

As for getting back into work mode, it couldn’t be easier. The Row, Rejina Pyo and Stella McCartney are just a few of the many designers that presented perfect trouser suits to take us back to the office.

Tones are soft, safe and, most importantly, versatile, whilst relaxed, loose-fitting silhouettes gently ease us back into the world of tailoring after the pandemic sent it to the back of our minds and wardrobes.Whether you’re suiting up for a long-overdue return to the office or simply want to have fun with getting dressed again, AW21 fashion really has something for everyone.

Use the new collections hitting the shops and the spirit of the September start-again as inspiration to get yourself out of that pandemic-induced style rut and invest in fashion once more.

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