September is a great time for a bit of a fashion reset. I always find myself thrust back into my routine with a new sense of purpose – perhaps looking healthier and feeling more adventurous – and that extends to what I want to wear. Right now, the new collections are beginning to trickle in, and this season, there’s definitely a newfound sense of liberation and re-emergence – a triumphant return to life as we once knew it.
That said, autumn/winter’s hero pieces (think statement coats and forever boots) are yet to land, making now a useful time to think about what's missing in your wardrobe so you can bridge the gap between the seasons. It’s all about making some additions to help you get more out of your summer pieces before we dive into serious layers – a knitted dress with sliders, long boots with bare legs, blazers with shorts… You get the idea. If, like me, your summer wardrobe still lies at the core of what you choose to wear every day, it’s worth looking for a couple of pieces to give your favourites that transitional twist.
There’s nothing chicer than a white pump against golden skin – and now is the ideal window for wearing paler footwear before the weather turns on us for good. White flats also offer some serious contemporary edge. Whether it’s a simple ballet pump or pristine Mary Jane, they tend to work with anything. While I'm obsessed with Hereu's woven flats (just about covered enough for the time of year), The Row has produced the perfect Mary Janes, while Wandler, Dear Frances and Prada have all perfected elegant slip-ons. If you're after something a little chunkier, head to Gucci for its Princetown classics or Louboutin; on the high street, the best versions are to be found at Mango. Try them with blue jeans and a chambray shirt for a low-key, polished finish.
Equally, my cream knee-length boots are one of my most worn items at this time of year. With the power to transform a simple black outfit from dour to Scandi minimalist, they also offer a clean canvas if you want to let a specific colour or print pop.
The AW21 shows were arguably a bright, energetic display of colour – perfectly capturing and reflecting the mood of post pandemic life. Everyone embraced colour on the catwalk – from Moschino to Dior, and even Armani and Chanel. As a one-time monochrome devotee who has since been converted to colour, I can attest to the fact that wearing bright shades will enhance your mood. However, primary shades need to be handled with care – and some definite rules apply.
To start with, gravitate towards minimalist and sleek style. When the vibrancy is high, downplay the silhouette and proportions. Tops and jackets are a great way to dip your toe into the trend, and they’re easy to incorporate into your transitional wardrobe, too. A bright but simple blazer worn with jeans and a white t-shirt strikes the right balance and while Saint Laurent's mustard blazer is heaven, the price tag is high, so it’s worth checking out Arket on the high street, which always delivers on quality and price. Zara also has a good selection of bright silk blouses and shirts – there's literally a colour for everyone. A silk camisole dress in a block colour is a great investment – I love Massimo Dutti's tomato red knitted sheath – the perfect shade in a modern, clean shape.
Finally, if you want to commit to a full-on bright look, tonal dressing is the technique to master. Put navy with turquoise or pale pink with purple – variations of the same shade eliminate the risk of ending up with too much contrast.
THE VERSATILE KNIT
If there’s one piece which has really struck a chord with me, it's SEA’s Juliette cardigan. There's nothing I don't love about it. Puff sleeves are still going strong, and this shape will work well with romantic dresses and pretty blouses. Its collar makes a real statement (and helps justify the price tag) but is also detachable, so you get maximum wear out of it. Texture is important this season, and this cable knit adds richness and interest – especially when worn with delicate fabrics like lace or faded florals. The question is, what colour to choose? It's available in navy, khaki and cream; I'm veering towards the latter.
At this time of year, a versatile knit – specifically a well-shaped cardigan – is a great investment if you want to add longevity to pretty, lightweight pieces. As the weather gets colder, you can wear it as a standalone top, pairing it with a midi skirt and boots or a pair of wide-leg leather pants. Iris has released a ruffle knit called the Karli in a useful neutral tone; Alice & Olivia has an embroidered cardigan which takes its inspiration from the detailed Gucci knits; and high-street giants H&M and Zara both have good, affordable alternatives.
There’s no trend more universally flattering than boho – plus, there isn't one woman who doesn't own a smocked dress or peasant blouse. The good news is the trend has carried through to AW21 – think black florals, quilted outerwear, full skirts and lots of embroidery. Naya Rea is a brand on my radar right now, and its Stephanie dress has the kind of dark, romantic spirit which works really well in the autumn, be it day or night. Layer it with a black roll-neck or white frilly collared shirt as we journey into winter.
Anna Mason's quilted jacket is also a beauty and Second Female has done another version of its sell-out floral gilet from last season. You’ll find this folksy outwear can transform even the simplest of dresses – it can give a white summer dress an instant autumnal makeover. If in doubt, take a look at what the queens of boho – Isabel Marant and Ulla Johnson – are up to. Their pieces are always worth the investment, but if the price tag is too steep, they're a useful springboard for hunting down styles on the high street.