What says “yay!” on a chilly morning quite like a bright orange, houndstooth coat and matching tights (although the tights are, technically, gingham)? Nothing.
I didn’t actually set out to match my coat and tights, but when the opportunity arose I grabbed it. This outfit started with the tights, and quickly expanded to include the dress, jumper, shoes, coat and earrings (in that order). Hilariously, my goal in choosing this dress was to wear something relatively simple with the gingham on my legs; things obviously escalated rather quickly.
By the time I was picking the shoes, I was thinking about the women of Advanced Style, many of who clearly stopped caring about the opinions of the chronically dull, long ago. I could have worn my (relatively) plain black patent heels, but these shoes shone out of the ranks. They have the air of fancy orthopaedic shoes bought by older women – they are just on the right side of ugly. When I wear them, I channel an eccentrically dressed, independent and sassy New Yorker called Edna.
Once they were on, I thought I was done, so went to grab a coat. By now, the spirit of Edna was upon me, and the opportunity to wear this bright orange coat was too good to pass up. This coat proves that constant style vigilance pays – I found it as I cut through the Underground Market here in Wellington one rainy day, and was very pleased indeed when I was told it cost $20.
I acknowledge that bright orange, houndstooth and oversized is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, I encourage everyone to buy at least one good coat that isn’t entirely sensible. Feel free to buy a classic black woollen coat, but then save up and find a coat that you just straight up love. Maybe it’s red, maybe it’s leopard print, maybe it’s sequinned – whatever. In winter, that’s what people will see as you pass in the street, so why not make it something beautiful, unusual or inspiring for them to enjoy? When it’s dark by 6pm and there are no flowers in the gardens anymore, let’s all lean in and give one another a tiny shot of loveliness or interest.
I have similar feelings about patterned tights. I recommend my Bonds comfy tops favourites, safe in the knowledge that most tight-wearing people will be after a good pair of black opaques. But! Tights are a relatively inexpensive way to experiment with jazzing up your wardrobe in the cooler months. These guys were on sale at Farmers – a great way to try some “legwear” that you might not otherwise have been comfortable with for minimum risk. I have a pair that look like lace, a red tartan pair, fishnets of various gauge, and sheers with silver spots (to name those that I can remember). I know that I’ll wear all of those to death and have to relinquish them at the end of winter, having more than gotten my money’s worth.
Cold weather and dark days are no excuse for dingey dressing, and during a time of year where we’re at risk of seasonal affective disorder, it’s time to start thinking about where you will get a bit of a pep up through the middle of the year. Book in a few outings with friends through the months, make reservations at a favourite restaurant, identify a new walk you want to complete on a crisp Saturday afternoon, sign up to volunteer (nothing makes you feel better than kindness to others). And, of course, now is the time to start dreaming up a new favourite ensemble for winter – starting with the legs.
Tights: Henry Holland for Pretty Polly at Farmers. Dress: actually a Workshop waistcoat several sizes too big, that I bought from Savemart. Jersey: many years ago from Ezibuy, similar here. Shoes: last winter at I Love Paris, their winter collection is a treat this year. Coat: miscellaneous purchase at Underground Markets here in Wellington! Earrings: Lovisa (but my thanks to the workmate who guessed they were Meadowlark!)