Just Add Knitwear (How to rework your summer clothes for Autumn)

Top Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn Ruth

Top Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthAfter the longest summer in history, Autumn is finally upon us. And the season of boots, and knitwear, and coats, of hot chocolates, and pumpkin pies and cosy fires, beckons.

And I don’t know about you but this initial shift in season throws me sartorially, every. single. time. I find myself in quite a happy little bubble of the same cropped jeans, sandals and basket bags, a rotation of midi skirts and flatteringly floaty dresses worn with trainers and a denim jacket, for most of summer. And then, when those leaves start changing and the frosty mornings begin, a wave of fashion panic over what to wear washes over me. I question my style; WHAT even is my autumn ‘look’? HOW will I give up the basket bags? What ON EARTH did I wear this time last year?

And I get endlessly frustrated when attempting the wardrobe switch over (even more so when you’ve moved house in the interim between spring ending and autumn beginning and don’t have a clue where ANY of your winter garbs are!); Should I pack this skirt away or will I suddenly be overcome with a need to wear it in a weeks time? Are these suede flats autumn appropriate or should I only wear boots from this point on? Which colour knits are going to go with my winter coat? The frustration mainly stems from the fact that this in-between period has an air of anything goes with the weather. You dig out all the knitwear, only for a weekend of 25 degree heat to appear out of nowhere. You need an army of coats for every rain/wind/sun/hail eventuality and a pair of suede boots risk getting ruined on their first outing of the season should the heavens open.

And it’s these exact daily conundrums that allow us to believe that we need an ENTIRE new wardrobe for the new season. Don’t worry, I’ve been there… many times. And right now I’m feeling it more than ever – my style (and size) has changed so dramatically since having a baby that I often don’t know where to begin when it comes to putting outfits together. So much of my wardrobe no longer fits, no longer suits, no longer feels like me, that most of the time I’m left depressed and unhappy when trying pieces on and resort to my failsafe of jeans, tees and trainers for another day. I open my wardrobe and hate everything within it, and the desire to purge it all and buy everything new is STRONG.

But, there’s a definite shift happening in the fashion industry at the moment (at least I hope all of the talk and awareness going on will have an overall impact) and we’re all becoming a little more aware of what our constant consumerism is doing. What responsibility we have to not be part of the problem and to do our bit to stop feeding that mentality that new, new, new all of the time is the only way. It’s a discussion for another post and another day because it deserves a lengthy ramble really (and it will come, I promise) but I’m trying really hard to make even the smallest of actions towards a sustainable future for our children in all areas of my life, from food habits to plastic usage to fast fashion consumption. I want to do better, I want to stop burying my head in the sand and I want to look inwards rather than blaming other people, even if it’s HARD.

And it IS hard. I love to shop, I always have. I get a real thrill from doing so, from feeling confident in my outfits and styling up new trends. But over the last couple of years, I’ve started to feel lost with my sense of style. I’ve started to question whether I actually like something or whether I just want it because all of my favourite instagrammers have been wearing it. I’ve started to pine for the girl who used to spend her money on vintage classics and got a thrill from finding a total gem in the charity shop, as opposed to finding the last one of a ‘must have’ instagram trend in a high street store.

At the start of this month, my AW wishlist was a lengthy page of coats and boots, knits and cardigans, scarves, floral dresses and mustard blazers. Full of things I’d convinced myself I needed in order to be able to survive the autumn season and actually have something to wear day to day for the next few months. Perhaps, rather serendipitously, I’ve had none of the funds to actually buy any of these things, and knowing that my modest paycheck due at the end of October already has to go towards so many other – ultimately more important – things, I’ve whittled it down to absolute essentials for the season ahead. I took part in Gem Morson’s #stoptheshopseptember (where we vowed not to shop anything new for the whole month and instead use instagram to style up clothes we already owned), which in all honesty didn’t feel like any more of a hardship than any other month because truthfully, since Evie arrived, my income now greatly reduced and us pretty much surviving on one wage, I simply don’t have the disposable income to shop in the way I used to anyway. I’ve forced myself to go through my wardrobe and pull out any existing items that fit this season’s trends, that can be worked alongside newer pieces and that are still in good condition and deserve another season of wear. Because HOW many times have you convinced yourself you need something, only to delve through your wardrobe and find something almost identical from last season lurking at the back, barely worn?

I mentioned when talking about the new direction I wanted to take this blog in following its redesign, that I wanted to inspire rather than influence, and I guess that’s where this post stems from. Everything featured is old, an existing item in my wardrobe. Nothing was bought new to shoot and nothing is available for you to buy but hopefully it might still inspire some of you to rethink some of your existing pieces and make them work harder for you. Not every item from your summer wardrobe has to be packed away or relegated to the charity pile. If you’ve loved a dress all summer long, then don’t stop loving it now – instead throw a knit over the top and swap the sandals for ankle boots and wah-la, the ideal autumn outfit.

I think, changing our shopping habits completely overnight is a big ask for most of us and for many the high street is the only option. It might feel impossible to suddenly quit shopping at your favourite store completely, but something we can all do easily is to limit our spending and buy only those pieces we truly love. To set about making those pieces work hard within our daily style choices – teaming them up with various different items, making them work through the seasons by adding different accessories, and to allow ourselves more than one wear before we move onto the next ‘must have’.

So this post is all about transitioning your favourite summer items into autumn, with the simple addition of knitwear. Because often just switching or adding one item is all it takes to transform an item completely, and make you feel like you have a whole new outfit.

The summer Midi skirt

Top Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthTop Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthTop Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthHow I wore it in summer…

Midi skirts were THE hit of the summer, from pleated to printed, polkadot to button down, we all had a favourite. Mine were wore endlessly throughout the long heatwave when anything else felt impossible and mostly teamed with a white tee and a pair of sandals, converse on cooler days.

How to rework it…

This polkadot ruffle style from H&M was one of my more ‘stylish’ buys, with polkadots proving a huge summer trend, and the flamenco ruffles being found on everything. The light white shade and trend led pattern could easily see it resigned to the back of the wardrobe, forever to remain a one season wonder.

BUT, even though you might feel like floaty midi skirts in pastel colours and pretty prints are for summer only, it’s actually so easy to style them up for autumn. Just add a jumper (either a fitted style tucked in or an oversized number layered slouchily over the top), and a pair of statement boots and it’s completely transformed. I teamed mine with a pastel pink cashmere jumper from Boden (a few years old now but still going strong) and these burgundy suede knee highs (also Boden but bought from a sample sale back at the start of the year). It would look equally good with a navy knit and a pair of black biker boots, or with a t-shirt and oversized cardigan and my converse before it gets too cold. Come the depths of winter, I’ll add thick tights, chunky boots and perhaps a navy or black wool coat. And you know what? I’m already kind of excited to style it up in different ways for winter too.

The backless summer dress

Top Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthTop Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthTop Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthHow I wore it summer…

This dress is actually two summers old now – bought back when I was newly pregnant and needed empire line and floaty shapes to hide a growing bump. I’m ashamed to admit I completely forgot about it throughout the whole of this summer (perhaps believing it wouldn’t fit anymore) so when I rediscovered it during my autumn wardrobe reclaim, and discovered it fit even better now, I was pretty chuffed. During that summer of early pregnancy, I wore it both casually with comfy trainers and a denim jacket during my trip to Stockholm, and more formally with burgundy heels and a leather biker on nights out.

How I’m reworking it…

The colours in this dress are actually perfect for this autumn – all rusty browns and yellows – and I knew it would easily team with a mustard knit or cardigan, but perhaps what’s scary about this one is the backless element, which undoubtedly feels more suited to warm summer evenings. Easily fixed by wearing a white long sleeve tee or poloneck underneath, but for now I’m just throwing on my chunkiest cardigan, a cross body bag and my converse.

Again, those burgundy boots would work well with this one too, when it becomes really wintery, as would the current trend for masculine chunky soled hiker boots. It’s the sign of a good versatile buy when you can think of multiple ways to style it.

The denim dungarees

Top Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthTop Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthTop Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthHow I wore them for summer…

Are dungarees a summer item? All I know is that I wore these Topshop dungarees from April when I bought them, and ALL summer long and now we’re in October and they’re still being reached for regularly. They’re super comfy, pretty flattering, and ideal for days spent running after a toddler. They might be high street but they were definitely a good buy for me, and I plan to keep wearing them for a good few seasons yet. Over the summer months, I teamed them with everything from star print blouses to simple white tees and  bell sleeved shirts. Usually with converse but occasionally with chic flats or simple sandals too.

How I’m reworking them…

Very easily is the answer. I’ve simply added a jumper underneath to layer up slightly, or slung a cardigan over the top. Converse are still my shoe of choice most of the time, but these black loafers have had a look in during the last of these bare ankle appropriate days. As the weather gets even colder I’m going to wear thick polonecks underneath and add a casual but warm coat such as a puffer, duffle or rain mac along with a pair of chunky ankle boots.

The straw bag

Top Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthTop Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthHow I wore it for summer…

Ok so straw bags were undeniably the accessory of the summer, and I’ll admit I bought a fair few of them. Over summer they were my go – to, teamed with every dress, midi and cropped jean combo I had. My favourite look was probably having them hang off one arm while wearing a floaty white dress and a simple sandal, or alongside a white broderie anglaise blouse and a pair of high waisted jeans/denim skirt.

How I’m reworking it…

Thing is I’m loving that bohemian accessory vibe so much that I’m not willing to relegate them just yet. Not ideal on rainy days granted, but there’s no reason why the straw bag can’t be transitioned into your autumn wardrobe. My favourite trick is to add a statement silk scarf to the  handles, drawing the attention to that rather than the bag itself, even better if it’s in autumnal colours such as mustard or green.

Also choose boxy styles of basket bags – doctors bags, small hand held, cross body – rather than large picnic style shapes or anything with a summer slogan/embroidery.

Top Uk fashion and lifestyle blogs, Jaclyn RuthStyling up these pieces really reminded me how many items I have within my wardrobe that I still love, and made me excited to rework other pieces for the new season too. I can’t guarantee a complete shopping ban for the whole of autumn, because I think a couple of new items to add into the mix is a good way of restyling without buying a whole new wardrobe, but I’m going to try harder to look at what I already have from now on, before I convince myself I need something new. And also when buying anything new, I’m going to ask myself how it will fit with my existing pieces, how many ways I can style it, and whether I’ll still be wearing it in another seasons time.

What are your thoughts on the way fast fashion has evolved? Do you think we have a responsibility to rethink our shopping habits? And how are you reworking your summer wardrobe for the new season?

(Also as a little add on – I promise I haven’t just ‘jumped on the bandwagon’ with this one. I took these photos over a month ago and had always planned writing this post about transitioning summer pieces for the next season, as it genuinely is something I’ve been doing a lot of lately while not being in a position to buy many new pieces. It just so happens that there’s now been a lot of talk about this subject from other bloggers and influencers too, following the Stacey Dooley Documentary. As I mentioned I’m going to write another post soon with all my thoughts on that – much bigger and more emotive – subject but as a general rule, I want my blog to reflect my personal style and therefore posts featuring wardrobe favourites and mixing a few new pieces with some old, are what you can hopefully expect more of within my outfit posts. Obviously the subject of fast fashion and its effect on the environment is something that’s been on my mind for the last year or so, and I know that I personally need to do more.)

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  • Helen Stratton says:

    Honestly, this is such a great post! Also I trust you more to keep to your words here than those who are just thinking about it after the documentary. Will they forget about it? I hope not.
    Lastly, I think this approach of inspiring more than influencing might be more realistic for us readers because who in the non-Instagram world can afford as much new stuff as we’re seeing?!
    Another thing I really enjoy is when people share favourite items from particular shops with affiliate links. Erica Davies is so helpful with making the styling suggestions in a manner where you can check your own wardrobe (she didn’t give you something to buy for each part of the outfit).
    Anyway, looking forward to more posts like this from you!

    • Jaclyn says:

      Hi Helen, ah so glad you enjoyed the post! And yes I agree – I love Erica Davies page and all that she does – she definitely inspires me but its not ALL about shopping or buying new things. I know it’s easy for people to jump on the bandwagon with stuff like this but I really really hope to stick to it and reconsider the way I shop – can’t say I’ll never impulse buy again but hopefully will start looking at other ways too. x

  • Linda says:

    Great read, not just for style tips, but to get me thinking about my buying habits. Environmental issues are with us all just now – or they should be! ( got to stop those impulse buys!)

    • Jaclyn says:

      Yes I agree- I think I’d been considering my shopping habits for a while but only because I knew it wasn’t a great way to shop for myself. Had no idea it was actually damaging the planet too – as soon as I found that out, it’s been the final kick I needed to relook at the way I shop and buy.

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