Dressing for the New Season: Jane Russell Advises You

From 'The Illusionist'.
From ‘The Illusionist’.

Autumn is on its way. Season of tawny sunlight, blackberries, cosy gloom and fireworks.  The wee heat-wave we’ve enjoyed in Scotland this year has sadly come to an end, and wasn’t it just amazing too. Amazing, and yet, perhaps little fraudulent, no? On the Hebridean island from which most of my family came, older relatives, dyed in the wool and glowering in peat trenches, would venture to comment on unexpected sunny weather: we’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it’. Fatalistic and knowing: that’s how we deal with sunshine around here. John Knox has a lot to answer for.

Once Autumn is underway, though, we’re back in familiar territory. There’s a bit more of a swagger in the Scottish populace when it’s raining. This is weather we can really get behind.

Best of all, I can stop pretending to be laissez faire and joie de vivre and baguette et fromage and  y’know, confident and French, about frolicking in a sundress. It’s autumn! No need for bare legs. I’ll be wearing a massive jumper and saying ‘are you going to eat that?’ to anyone with pie.

It’s my favourite time of the year. A time for new beginnings, gathering resources, preparing for what may be ahead.  I also think it’s nothing short of exquisite that we mark this time with a night of revelling in our fear of the dark at Halloween, and then another night of setting fire to things and filling the sky with explosions on Nov 5th. We’re squaring up to winter, all bolshy and brave.

When not indulging in medieval rituals, Autumn is also a time for re-assessing the winter coat situation and getting boots re-heeled. So I’d like to go old-school glamour on this affair and offer up some tips from Jane Russell on how to build a wardrobe for maximum chic. This advice came from the film magazine Reel, which was published in the 1940s in Glasgow.

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Of all the things to be happening in the 1940s in Glasgow – I imagine it was mostly just slum-based mayhem  and bombings –  I just love that this film magazine happened too. Such enterprise, such dreaming, such loving commitment to the flicks. It’s designed like a well-at-heel international fancy-people publication and includes chat from Frank Sinatra and Jean Simmons from K.I.S.S. (Haaaaaaaaa sorry). I picked these magazines up for 50p a copy in the Barras – cheap fun.

Dressing for the New Season

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Err… and a close up…

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Here’s what I’ll be doing, since I can’t really afford a small hat with an accent on simplicity (maybe a Primark costume trinket or two, but that’s about it).

1. No messing: buy good shoes

Jane is right. The best/only life choice I ever made that massively improved my wellbeing was when the Inland Revenue gave me a tax rebate and I spent it on a pair of winter boots. Now every year I get the same boots reheeled and feel like The Champ. They may not be the foxiest shoes, but what price dry toes in December? There are no riches greater.

2.       Brrr. Wear a Coat.

According to ALL the magazines right now, pink coats are in. You’ve got to love the eager stoking of rampant consumerism through such rubbish tactics. Pink coats ladies. That’s the advice this year. Imagine the designers ringing Vogue HQ: ‘Hey guys, pink coats. I don’t get paid enough for this. Write that down. Yeah, put down pink. And then write… coat’. I like whole consummate trends with my overpriced copy. Because fun. But just one item? Meh. Must try harder, fashion designers. If you don’t have a pink coat, maybe just wear a coat. Half-way there.

3.       Go Raking in Charity Shops

My perennial advice for anyone who doesn’t mind looking like a street urchin. Charity shops: because I won’t be spending my rent on a Jaeger dress. Vogue magazine is great as a sort of mood board, and who doesn’t love a mood board. But when they try and punt £3000 handbags, they are being silly. If you go raking in charity shops you are guaranteed to turn up treasure. And maybe even a Jaeger dress (unpaid, unauthorized advertisement for Oxfam on Byres Road there).

4.       Do the wardrobe re-jig

Advice so obvious I guess I’m the only person new to this game.  Pack the summer clothes away in the winter. Pack the winter clothes away in the summer. Rotate that wardrobe. Imagine how lovely it’ll be to unpack woolly coats and ill-advised jumpers knitted from malted cat hair in the Autumn and go ‘oh actually I have supremely excellent taste, well done me’, while trying on the cat-hair jumper for size and concluding that yes, you’ve definitely still got it.

A mess, but a polka dot mess.
A mess, but a polka dot mess.

Let us raise a cup of cocoa and an indoor sparkler to the coming season. It’s going to be just swell.

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