Autumn always seems to me to arrive with a palpable sense of relief. Finally, we can stop meticulously applying fake tan, stoically braving unseasonably cold temperatures in bare legs (because no matter how cold it really is, wearing tights in August is plain wrong) and wearing flimsy floral frocks. Instead, it’s time to get out the jackets, coats, scarves, hats, merino tights, thermal underwear (no? just me?) and fingerless gloves. Fingerless, because while it’s still Autumn and not Winter, that’s my token concession to the seasons. About 2 inches of flesh that just has to cope with the chill. That, and operate the iPhone.
One thing the plunging temperatures firmly drive home, however, is the disparity between what we all actually DO in our everyday lives, and what designers, well, design for. I have waxed (think Barbour, not candle) lyrical on these very pages before on the subject of cocoon coats and three quarter length sleeves. Great for showing off your slim wrists, even better for exposing said wrists to sub zero temperatures. Then there’s capes. In theory, having your arms tucked away from the elements and unable to access the outside world would be quite snug. If, that is, you have a team of people whose sole function was to run ahead of you opening doors, holding champagne glasses to your lips and proffering tempting morsels of canape. The Queen could definitely rock a cape, or Anna Wintour if you want proper royalty. If it’s actually just you, an Oyster card, and Oxford Circus at rush hour: good luck with that.
Mind you, I can’t just point the finger at high end designers for this insanity – I was in a well known high street retailers just yesterday and was genuinely baffled to see they were selling a cape for babies. Babies. You know, those small people who like to grab anything and everything with their HANDS. I have marked this as some kind of nadir of common sense: when we all look back in years to come and sigh, and ask when civilisation reached it’s tipping point, I will point to this cape as the key moment. It’ll end up as an artefact in a museum detailing the folly of 21st century life, you mark my words.
Where was I? Oh yes, cold weather. Fingerless glove. Blankets. These are all marvellous things. I am currently having a love affair with Hilary Grant circle scarves and lambswool blankets and knitwear from Isabel Marant and frankly, if I had my way, I’d be swaddled in several of them at all times. Apart from the Isabel Marant, which is a strictly platonic as-yet-unconsumated affair, of course. So I say, never mind the chic cropped jackets and slim fit couldn’t-wear-a-jumper-underneath-if-you-tried coats you see on the catwalks – join me and embrace your inner Michelin man/woman. Layer up enough and there’ll be so much of you to embrace that no one can miss.
- Kate Carter is the Life & Style Editor of The Guardian online @katehelencarter