Wednesday, 14 September 2011


After the overwhelming response to my last post (which was roundly ignored by everyone in the world) I have made the executive decision to continue ‘beauty blogging’ at least until the end of September on the grounds it might be useful for book 9 of the 12 Books project.

Today, dressing for autumn.

Here in Edinburgh, the average woman on the street (or on the streets involved in my work commute, at any rate) completed the autumn change-up on September 1st.

I am vaguely aware from the style supplement of the newspaper that fashion goes in seasons, which are loosely based around the weather. Some of you may remember the good old days when there were four quite disparate seasons, which were called spring, summer, autumn and winter. These days, of course, we only really have two and a bit seasons: autumn, winter, and a fortnight of sprimmer which is spread out on odd days here and there between April and August.

During sprimmer, a lot of women do their level best to pretend it’s nice enough outside to justify cotton dresses, sandals, and even a day or two of bare legs – although for the intervening days it’s necessary to supplement these items with cardigans, leggings, and mackintoshes. This is because sprimmer is unpredictable – a day will start off with blackened skies and thunder in the air, and by lunchtime it will have morphed into the most beautiful sunny day since records began.

Autumn is different. This is a season where you know what’s what: it might look nice outside but it definitely won’t be warm; if it looks like rain it’ll probably snow; and either way you’ll want waterproof shoes and an industrial strength brolly. Preferably adamantium.

As a result, the women I see on my daily walk to work are now clad in knee high boots, wool coats, scarves, jumpers and so on. They look fabulous.

Having said that, I haven’t conformed to the autumn change-up myself. Well I have a bit, but not really so as you’d notice. My main concession was to buy a pair of jeans that fit, because gale force winds are likely to be commonplace between now and next April so I won’t get away with wearing skirts every day.

What I tend to do in lieu of buying lots of new things when autumn hits is go to my bottom drawer and come back with another layer to add to the clothes I wear all year round. So for instance if I’m wearing one of my four dresses, I’ll have a long sleeved T-Shirt under there instead of a camisole. Either that or I’ll wear a cardigan over the top. Not both, though – that’s wintertime layering, baby.

The reasoning behind this is pretty exclusively financial, although there are elements of sizing tied in. Since I reached the dress size 16-18 mark (about...oh, 6 or 7 years ago) I have avoided buying new stuff where possible on the grounds I’m going to lose a bit of weight any day now, so there’s no point. My inner accountant claims this is canny, and the part of me that wants to indulge in retail therapy compensates by buying books I don’t have time to read; and occasionally updating the tech in my life under the guise of it being useful for freelance journalism purposes.

It’s probably just as well I’m conditioned not to update my wardrobe correctly, though, because have you seen what’s in for autumn? Neither had I until I looked it up just now, and I can tell you its high necked, 20s style dresses of the sort that only look reasonable on ladies the shape of Kiera Knightley; ponchos to give the impression you have no shape at all; and snakeskin.

Snakeskin? Really? What is this, 1972? Seemingly that rebirth of tastelessness originates somewhere in the vicinity of Jimmy Choo and Kate ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ Moss. Years of replacing food with Class A drugs will do strange things to a person’s perception of what looks good. I think I’ll take my chances with my 8 year old polo neck from the British Heart Foundation charity shop...


  1. Ali,
    I love this post. Autumn is definitely my favorite time of year, but I live in the Southern US, weather is still relatively warm. But I have Scottish ancestors, so I'm just digging the boots, scarves and coats, the sweaters and jeans. And don't we all want to wait til we lose just a bit of weight before buying something that will make us look and feel better? I should be up jogging instead of reading and writing, but the coffee is still hot, so I'm hanging around the house!

  2. Hi Renee - thanks for commenting, glad I'm not the only one who prefers writing to exercise!