Discover more from The Cereal Aisle by Leandra Medine Cohen
It's the best time of year to get dressed
Glad that rain is out of the way: the perks of liminal weather dressing
Once the residual dew of August has evaporated, September makes for ideal dressing weather because it’s warm out there, but it’s also crisp. The sun still hangs high overhead as summer dissipates into the horizon, leaving remnants of its balm mixed into the blueprint of what will be the forthcoming chill and this dichotomous combination — the liminality of the moment — makes for ideal dressing-for-fashion conditions.
Because it’s impossible that you will need a wool coat and flip flops in the same outfit, that tiny tap shorts will accommodate you if a chunky knit is necessary too. That crochet shorts and a structured tweed jacket could manage on the same tableau with shin-length socks and complete leg exposure but see the best thing about the 5th and 6th seasons (which I define as the two seasons that bookend summer) is that your clothes don’t have to make practical sense. They don’t have to incorporate too many constraints or technical details because we’re living a real-life in-between of hot and cold, wet and dry.
I’m seated outside a coffee shop, in fact, dressed in a cardigan, running shorts, and orange suede loafers.
So get ambitious with your clothes. It’s fashion weather! Even if you’re not getting wacky, consider all the pairings you might wish to wear but can’t when it’s too hot or cold.
Fran Lebowitz was like, “Pretend it’s a city.” I say, Pretend it’s an editorial. Some thought starters divided by category:
Odd fabric pairings
The most effective way to capture the spirit of liminal weather dressing is to pair fabrics from different ends of the season’s spectrum. Think raffia and wool
Like demonstrated here with a bucket hat made from straw crochet and a sweater that is some kind of mohair blend. The way you want to think about balancing it out is by giving one more garment to each end of the spectrum, so to mesh with the hat are the fisherman shoes (and in particular this pair with the summer wood sole) and for the sweater, a wool mini skirt.
Crochet as in the shorts and leather as on the coat. With this one, I added a sheer ribbed white mock neck knit, more shirt than sweater and probably best for warm weather. It is as starkly white (and rigid in texture) as the shorts, so they do something good together. The shoes catch the jacket and the bag is a neutral, employed for the purpose of color pairing more than anything else and the sunglasses are, mostly, for fun. I actually wore a variation of this last week, which looked like:
I’m actually really on one with crochet/wool pairings, here’s a recent rendering (with suiting) from an idea that came to me at like midnight last week while I was tossing and turning in bed:
One more from the category of odd fabric pairings before we move on.
Shearling and bare skin! (Sheer socks optional.)
What I did in terms of pairing here was match a black poplin top to a charcoal grey suit skort and then include the suede shearling shoes to offset the I’m-going-to-work-ness (if you can call it that) of the top and skort. (Suede’s always a good, durable, casual counterbalance.)
And then to keep the look in the liminal period, I added a raffia bag by Gucci that catches the color of the shoes even if they’re for different seasons, and a playful necklace of the same HUES. (The earrings riff off the green beads in the necklace.) Sometimes I don’t even realize how many factors I’m considering when putting shit together until I try to explain it to you.
The reverse equivalent of this look (winter shoes and naked skin), btw, is summer shoes and fully covered bod:
There is something satisfying about wearing a knit on tan skin and having your feet exposed. It’s like an oxymoron that is nice on the eyes. I chose metallic sandals to draw more attention to it but let’s move on.
Impossible proportions any other time of year
This part is about combining unlikely silhouettes to create proportions that look good but rarely make it out into daylight because it’s either too hot or too cold to pull off. In the first instance, you’ll see a tank top styled with corduroy pants and knee-high boots. I’m going to stop typing and just let you scroll.
As promised, a tank top styled with corduroy pants and boots. If you’re going for a similar pairing, I do recommend pants that are mid to high rise as they create the best proportion against knee-high boots. I chose boots that are snug to my leg as opposed to log-like (usually the preference) because the pants are straight (not skinny), which creates a subtle jodhpur effect that is completely thrown off its horse, (pun intended, Amelia, are you reading?), by the inclusion of a rock and roll belt.
If you are looking to start a conversation, I might suggest something more in line with this:
The jacket is too lightweight to actually wear as a jacket — it functions better as a durable top, and the pants are leather, nice and snug and warm. Just like a shoe that fully exposes the foot! The weight of the complete look makes sense because the jacket exposes enough of my neck to catch all those toes free balling it, but the pants also cover enough of my foot in the shoe to counter the sleeves and all. Plus, the back strap of the shoe serves as a sort of end mark.
To zoom out more broadly on what you can do in the way of accessories, there is always an invitation to introduce your sandals to your socks.
Lately, I have been really into casual white socks styled with formal shoes, as demonstrated here with the satin sandals. It’s fun to think that such a small area on the look could be the main event, with the actual clothes serving as an accent but that’s kind of what’s happening — legs out but in c/o the skirt and deliberately paired with a grey cotton long sleeve tee.
Easy, more obvious renderings that deserve air time
No sectioning-off in particular for these, but they fall into the category of liminal weather appropriate, so I’m dropping them in just in case they stretch your creative hamstrings and give you an idea of some way to wear things you have crumpled up in the back of your closet.
This first is a denim jacket as a shirt with wool pants:
I also can’t recommend these Damernes Magasin clip/pin/necklace rosettes enough. They do so much what with their status as pin, clip and necklace.
I have been wearing the hell out of the red one, which adds such a lovely accent to most neutral-colored looks, but these black and ivory ones do a good job too of adding dynamism, or softness to a look that might need it. And grey flannel is basically the winter equivalent of denim — pretty durable, it goes with everything, is a neutral, can be casual or not, and it pairs well (in a contrast-y way) with fancy jewelry, which you’ll see in a scroll.
See? The earrings are what I’m classifying as fancy. (The sunglasses pick up the jacket and pants to set the full vibe.) Before we move on, let me just add one more thing re: the gray flannel, which really gets to shine as a contrarian accent when paired with open-foot sandals:
Next: If you feel like wearing boots already because you can’t contain yourself (I get it), this is also pretty much the only time of year (between the hours of like 12 and 5 p.m., in direct sunlight, that you can swing a tank top with the whole:
And finally, for whatever reason, this next and last one is my favorite of the loot:
Black button down featuring white buttons, with cropped pants of a similar fabric (but finer), and socks pulled up to my shins with the same color tennis shoes, plus a giant tote bag to offset the fancy earrings in my lobes and the silver jewelry on my wrist. This one is definitely practical, but the red lipstick and jewelry give it some flair, while the tote bag that offsets the fanciness affords it a rough edge that makes it feel more like a fashion look than just a reg upper east side mom hauling her shit-look.
Or at least this is the story I tell myself.
See you at Friday’s Letter of Rec…,