Dressing for an Arizona Autumn

By Karen R. Smith


If you’re not native to these parts, you’re probably accustomed to putting your summer clothes away right about now, and beginning to place sweaters, flannels and wools into your closet as the temperatures begin to slide into winter.

As I write this, it’s 93 degrees and the kids are happily playing in the pool. The only sign of seasonal change is that I only have to call them in once at day’s end -- the temperature really does drop when the sun goes down!

Dressing for Fall in Arizona is a balancing act, and for many that simply means throwing a sweater into the car if you’re going to be out past dinner time. That’s fine as far as it goes, but if you want to look put together, it takes a bit more planning.

Rethink your summer clothes

If you find yourself sick to death of the summer clothes you’ve been wearing since April, try combining them in new ways. Layer a slip dress over a tee shirt, or cinch in the waist of tunic with a long scarf tied on the diagonal. Leggings under a short summer dress take it into the fall season. And you’ll find that lots of your sundresses look marvelous over pants -- especially the longer ones. The pants create a change of proportion that changes the look of the dresses. Try it!

Add a few key pieces

Once the sun goes down, you can comfortably wear jeans again. Add a pair of cowboy boots and you’re all set, even if you just keep wearing your summer tops to complete the outfit. At the moment, I’m painting a pair of cowboy boots I just found at a local thrift. Hearts, skulls and flowers and they will be ready for the dancefloor. Don’t hesitate to embellish shoes and boots to bring them into the season. You’ll have a great time, and the look will be as original as you are!

I keep wearing my black linens throughout the Fall, but I find myself putting all the light-colored linen aside now that I’m ordering a pumpkin latte. It just looks too summery to me, I guess. Yet I’m cheerfully wearing sandals during the day since the temperatures are in the 90s. If that doesn’t work for you, pick up a pair of mules, which are still a fashion favorite. Look for a pair in a bright color with closed toes, and you’ll be able to wear them all winter.

If you’re eager to replace your wardrobe this season, have a wonderful time and enjoy the shopping! But if you’re like most of my clients, you want to keep most of what you have -- with something fresh to update the classic pieces and give everything a fresh look.

This Fall, that’s easily done by adding something in any of the major prints that are available in new ways. If florals are your thing, look for a pair of ankle boots in a flower print and you’ll have update your entire wardrobe. These are available in every price point, and just about every shoe designer is showing several, so you’re bound to find a pair that suits your toes and your wallet.

If you’d rather play with snake prints, they are also featured on a variety of low boots this Fall. I am particularly taken with the low cowboy boots by Zara(www.zara.com...) but there are dozens more to choose from. Enter ‘snake print ankle boots’ into the search window on Amazon and you’ll find lots of them, with prices starting under $40 and topping off near $300.

If you’re mad for plaid, you can find ankle boots in that as well, but the easier way to add plaid this season is in a boxy, 80’s sort of blazer. In fact, you might want to add an entire plaid pantsuit because using the two pieces separately will stretch your wardrobe even further. These are also available from every manufacturer and in every price range. I really like the plaid, double-breasted blazer by Mango (shop.mango.com/...) and the one from Zara (www.zara.com/... ) but there are plenty more out there. Go look at the website of your favorite department store or designer and find the right one for you!

Pick up a couple of Hawaiian-style shirts in all-over prints, and you’ll have everything you need to look au currant without breaking the bank.

Time to Shop Clearance Sales!

It is worth remembering that the rest of the country (with a few exceptions!) is preparing for winter. All the department stores that do business nationally are clearing out summer clothes to make room for down jackets and boots and sweaters. That includes the branches of those stores here in Tucson, which means at Dillards, Macys, Nordstroms, JC Penney it is clearance sale time, and since we’ll have hot days for months to come, you can stock up on tanks, tees, bathing suits and more at incredibly low prices. Get out there and SHOP!

Worth men-tioning

As for the men in your life, there has been almost no change in men’s casual attire, which is pretty much the uniform of the gents here in Tucson. Various institutions have been touting a soldier blue as the new color of the year, and since most men favor blue anyway, flesh out his wardrobe with some blue shirts of whatever type he favors and he’ll no doubt thank you for it! If your man wears short sleeve shirts all winter, the clearance sales are full of them!

About the Author:
Karen R. Smith is an award-winning journalist and publicist. Her book, "Stylishly Sexy" is available online and she takes private style clients throughout Arizona and across the country. Visit her at www.stylesmithtransformations.com