I have always viewed fall as a season of change. Change happens in the fall. The weather changes, the leaves change colour, we start new things, or restart old things that have been on summer hiatus. When we were kids we’d get new clothes, start new grades at school, or new schools, meet new friends. Back in the day even the new television season started in the early fall. Remember back in the eighties anxiously awaiting the new season of Dallas to find out who shot J.R.?
I thought that was why I loved fall so much. It was the season of change. And I loved change, didn’t I?
But now when nothing much changes for me in September anymore, oddly enough, I still think of September, and fall in general, as the season of change. And view it with as much anticipation as ever. I’ve been thinking of this phenomenon ever since I wrote a post about September a few weeks ago.
I mean, I no longer return to school in September as a student or as a teacher, so my daily routine does not change much from summer. We put the garden to bed, turn up the heat a bit at night, and light the fire, but surely that can’t constitute change. Or newness.
I put away my summer clothes and unpack my fall pieces. I fold into drawers or hang up in my closet my coats and blazers, cashmere sweaters, turtlenecks, jeans, and heavy socks. Shake out and brush my two treasured tweed pieces. Make that three. I just remembered another short tweed Max Mara jacket that I hope to wear this year. I also polish and place lovingly on the floor of my closet my loafers and boots. And then switch out summer accessories for fall bags and scarves and hats. As I do this, I think of all the new outfits I’ll wear. But really… are they new outfits?
Let’s be frank, most of my fall pieces have been around for several seasons. And some are downright vintage. And much as I love them, they are not new. So, can wearing them for yet another season be classified as change? Is it really change I’m embracing when I switch my closet from summer to fall?
Or is it the comfort of ritual, the fact that despite the changes that swirl around us these days, some things stay the same? And turning my closet is one of my rituals that stays the same. Maybe this action is more about greeting old friends that I’m happy to see again, with whom I’m happy to be reacquainted. Maybe I love fall not for change and the idea of newness. But for the comfort of “oldness?”
It’s definitely a thought worth considering. I’ve always been kind of obsessed with the past. Actually, fascinated might be a better word. I love old photos, and old movies, old furniture, and old things generally. I love vintage clothing, and vintage jewellry and hats in particular. When we first moved to the farm when I was a kid, I loved the idea that our old barns were still standing after almost a hundred years. I loved the old apple orchard that still bore fruit. I treasured the old bits and pieces I dug out of the barnyard or hauled up from the cellar after I’d explored the crawl-space under the kitchen with a flashlight. All this oldness symbolized stability and permanence for me. The comforting feeling that things last. That life might not be as precarious as I’d thought.
So, maybe my fascination with the past is why I love fall and fall fashion more than spring or summer. Maybe fall is not the season of change. But the season of continuity, with comforting echoes of the past.
I know that, in the early fall, Hubby and I follow the same habits that my parents followed on the farm. We store the harvest, make pickles, process herbs, and pile wood in readiness for winter fires. Okay, romanticism aside, and in the interest of honesty, I make the pesto with the basil and parsley from our garden. But Hubby does most of the harvesting, all of the wood piling. And all the pickling. The smell of Hubby’s Lady Ashburnham pickles (made with my mum’s recipe) bubbling on the stove makes me feel all cosy inside. Sigh.
And as far as fall fashion goes, the plethora of tweed, and wool, and short boots, and hats conjure up images of the past for me. Images of my mother and her stylish sisters in the 1940s. Of Lana Turner and Lauren Bacall in their jaunty berets and tightly cinched coats. Or Katharine Hepburn in her baggy pants and comfortable shoes. Fall fashion for me is more reminiscent of the past than the future. More emblematic of the comfort of continuity rather than the excitement of change.
Maybe I anticipate fall for reasons other than what I’ve always assumed. Not for the changes wrought by fall, but for the opposite.
And speaking of fall changes, I finished my closet changeover the other day. Happily performed the seasonal ritual of switching summer things for fall. I started with my jackets and sweaters a while ago. And last week I unpacked all my bags and scarves and hats. I do love my old pieces. The tweed jackets from the nineties and early aughts. The bags I’ve had for eons. My vintage brooches.
I have a few new pieces. The Levis 501, relaxed fit jeans, above, that I bought in Fredericton in August. My friend Debbie and I shopped a bit before lunch one day, visiting a couple of favourite independent shops in downtown Fredericton. Talk about continuity. I joked with the salesperson that Debbie and I first shopped for jeans together fifty years ago, when we were fifteen. The salesgirl seemed dumbstruck. I mean, she was pretty young. She was probably contemplating how it must feel to be fifty years past fifteen. Ha. Actually, to be accurate I should have said fifty-one years ago, when we were fifteen.
As usual, this fall I’ve been saving ideas to my Fall 2022 Pinterest board to give me inspiration as to how I want to wear my old pieces. Because that’s the change for me, in this season of change. The “newness” of fall is not actually new new outfits. But finding new outfits using old pieces. Or combining the old pieces with the newer pieces.
The other day I tried styling my new Levis with my newish Veja sneakers, blue striped socks from Simons, a black, slim-fitting turtleneck from Vince that has become a heavy-hitter in my wardrobe, and a black belt. For one outfit I threw my navy and cream striped sweater from COS around my shoulders. In the photos, I’m carrying the sweater. For the other outfit I pulled on my Paige jean jacket. My denim jacket is classic, and I’ve had it for ten years. I also wore a vintage brooch that I picked up for five bucks last year on a day out with my friend Liz in Merrickville.
In both outfits I’m wearing an old “messenger” bag, bought back in the nineties at Holt Renfrew. I love this bag, and it has cycled into and out of my closet rotation for years. It is most definitely in current rotation this fall. From what I’ve been seeing online, “squashy” bags are trending. I think there’s nothing more satisfying, fashion-wise, than participating in a trend with an old piece I unearthed from my closet and which I’ve had for years. I tried to find something similar online. On this page on Etsy you can find some serious deals on cross-body, “messenger-style” bags.
So, yeah, fall is the season of change. Of newness, in some ways. And in other ways it’s the season of un-change. Of oldness, kind of. Old familiar rituals, time-worn habits that mark the change of season, and reaffirm continuity, and permanence. And I’m beginning to think that the reason I love fall is because of the oldness, and not the newness.
I love change. I do. But I still need continuity, and some sense of permanence or immutability. Even though I know it may be a lost cause. Because of course all things change eventually. I think that’s why in times of stressful change I retreat to what I call “gentle reads.” Particularly those written a few generations ago. I find them soothing. But even while I am indulging in that solace, I know it can’t last. Of course it can’t. But it still helps.
Today Hubby and I attended a memorial service, followed by a reception, for Hubby’s cousin who died a few months ago. The reception was at the home of Hubby’s cousin, now his son’s home, an old house in an old neighbourhood of Ottawa. I knew the son when I was a teacher and he was fourteen. I haven’t seen him in years. What a treat to see him again and meet his girlfriend. They have lovingly renovated the old house, doing all the work themselves, keeping the kitchy, forties nature of the small rooms and filling them with mid-century furniture that they found on Facebook Marketplace and in junk shops. Painting old wainscotting, and hanging the son’s artwork and the art of their friends on the walls. I haven’t been in a home that I found as inviting as this one for years. Maybe never.
What a testament to change and immutability that house is now. How sad we were to mark the passing of Hubby’s cousin who was a wonderful man. And yet how happy we were to reacquaint ourselves with his son and meet his son’s girlfriend. She is lovely. “I have to say,” I told Hubby, when we were driving home, “I think we might have to adopt that girl.”
And, you know, as I’ve been writing my post since we came home, I’ve been thinking how our day today was a perfect metaphor for fall. All about endings and beginnings, about change and continuity, about looking to the future but with a reverence and respect for the past. That’s what I love about fall. Not just the change. But the unchangeness.
And not to spoil the moment by getting all shallow… but, here I go… that’s what I love about fall fashion too. Or at least my version of it.
Anyway, that’s it for me tonight folks. I started this post late. I’ve been whittering on for hours, and now it’s very late. Hubby has long been in bed. I’m going to make a cup of herbal tea and snuggle up with my book for an hour. I’m reading the latest in the Thursday Murder Club series. And loving it. I knew I would. There are some things in life, and some authors, you can totally count on.
How about you my friends? What deep thoughts are you contemplating this week? Or undeep thoughts? Go ahead, whitter away. We’re listening.
P.S. Here are some links from items in this post: Vince “Essential” long-sleeve turtleneck, Similar turtleneck from COS (I’m contemplating ordering one in purple), Veja sneakers, COC striped sweater, and two similar COS striped sweaters here and here, Levis 501 jeans, Paige denim jacket. Similar cross-body “messenger” bags here.
P.P.S. The above links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on my link, I will make a commision which helps to pay for the blog.