As a Florida girl, born and raised in the blistering heat, one would think my wardrobe would be filled with shorts, tanks, and a whole manner of tropical outfits. In actuality, upon going through my closet, I counted over 20 sweaters, 8 pairs of pants, 15 scarves, 7 pairs of boots—I could go on, but you get the picture.
I, like many other fashion-loving Florida girls, have an unfortunate obsession with fall and winter fashion. After 18 years of rain, humidity, and 80 degree Decembers, one might think I would learn to lay off the autumnal garb, but I cannot help myself.
For those who are native Floridians, I am sure you understand my plight. For snowbirds, even if you love the chance to wear shorts and sundresses now, the endless summer will lose its allure fairly quickly. So, long story short, everyone on campus will want a shift to autumn—both in temperature and dress—by mid-to-late October. Sadly, we cannot control the weather, and so our hands are tied in that arena. On the other hand, with fashion, we have a bit more control.
This year fashion week displayed patchwork jackets, floor-duster coats, puffer coats, turtlenecks, midi boots, tights, chunky knits, velvet, and wool to name a few styles. Layers are officially in, and sundresses are out. This, of course, poses an issue for the fashion-forward Floridian, as heavy layers are not an option when our version of cold is 72 and sunny.
On the upside, fashion week also showed winter florals, slip dresses, carwash skirts, statement blouses, and earrings, all of which can be worn in warm weather. Beyond that, one must be more creative.
My first fashion hack is in reference to chunky knits and turtlenecks. Obviously, wearing a huge wool sweater would result in heatstroke in Florida 364 days out of our year, but luckily there are other comparable options. The first: sleeveless turtlenecks. These, cotton turtlenecks, and wide-knit sweaters have become quite common, and all are more breathable than the alternatives. Also, crocheted sweaters and cardigans can give an outfit a fall or wintry appearance without being stifling, even if the temperature tests our patience at 80 or 90 degrees in mid-November (which happens frequently, so those new to Florida: beware).
Next—coats. An amazing coat is the staple of fall clothing, so when cheating the weather on this particular article, the easiest option is to find your favorite silhouette in a lighter material. Coats that debuted on the runway in heavy materials like wool or leather can often be found in materials like cotton, poly-blends, summer wool, or faux leather. On a recent trip to the Mall at Millennia, I was able to find two beautiful trench coats, one cotton and one poly-blend, a summer wool pea coat, several light faux-leather jackets, and countless heavy knit and patchwork sweaters made from cotton yarn, summer wool, and poly-blends.
As for boots, it may sound strange, but the cheaper the boot, the better. Of course, be sure the boots you buy are on trend, but you do not need to buy the expensive brand. This is because, as a general rule, the better quality boot, the warmer it keeps your foot. In most cases, that is exactly what a shopper wants. But in Florida, boots are typically an accessory with little to no functionality and warmth is more of a con.
In parting, here are a few last hints to a cool wardrobe. First: layer. There will be many fall and winter mornings when you will wake up freezing, but by noon, if you are wearing a heavy sweater, you will burn up. Try a short-sleeved shirt under a light sweater or a scarf with a coat on top. That way, as temperature rises, you can shed your layers as needed. Second: cotton, cotton, cotton. Linen and tropical wool are helpful as well because they breathe, which is essential for warmer climates. Third: dark fabrics are a good idea as they do not show sweat if you are caught in the afternoon warmth. Fourth, and finally: have fun with your wardrobe! Love what you put on each morning and be comfortable in the clothes you choose. Enjoy this fall season and dress well. If you approach it right, you will love every minute of it.