The most economical place for most people to shop during a seasonal transition is their own closet. Really "shop" your closet and look for interesting ways to create new outfits. Gather all of your fall clothes, accessories, shoes, coats, and bags and make a one-hour appointment with yourself. Try on all your clothes and make sure everything still fits and is not in need of repair. Try layering some items and see how that works for you. Gals, add scarves and jewelry that have been pushed to the back of the closet to the mix and see which items might pull together some new outfits. Fellas, split up the suits you never wear, and you may discover "new" trousers right in your own closet (just be careful if you still want the suit; those brown trousers might fade to light clay after being cleaned separately).
Everyone should consider tailoring things that just don't seem to fit right and therefore aren't worn with regularity. Get the clothes you already own and like into circulation! If that seems daunting, check out this article in the Seattle Times for solid advice on tackling tailoring.
When considering what you need, don't be afraid to wear an item more than once per week. Just mix up how you wear it. For many people, having too many clothes is oppressive and can make it harder to get dressed in the morning. To avoid the closet-full-of-clothes-and-nothing-to-wear syndrome, try to buy clothing items that can be worn in three different combinations, such as a plaid blazer that can be worn with a skirt, black pants, and jeans for three different looks. I used to think that more clothes served me better (read: shopaholic tendencies) until I lived in Italy for three years. Italians look fashionable and pulled together and often have very little, if any, closet space. They buy clothes that fit well and wear them often. Besides, if I see something I really like in a shop that will give me a stylish update for the season, I don't want to have to feel guilty about the purchase because I already have a closet crammed full of clothes.
If you have successfully shopped your closet and still feel like you want to spice things up a bit for fall within a stricter-than-usual budget, here are some sensible additions for Seattleites:
- Colorful lightweight knits for layering — Choose colors from a complementary color palette for mixing and matching.
- A snazzy raincoat in a fun color — A great lightweight and truly water-resistant raincoat is a no-brainer for practicality and instant style in the Northwest.
- Dark-washed jeans — Replace your worn jeans with a new pair of dark-washed jeans for a much crisper look.
- A colored handbag — Pick a color and style you love, and you'll use it no matter what the "in colors" are for any season.
- A piece of plaid — Choose a plaid skirt, jacket, dress, pant, or tie using the same color palette as your light knits. And remember what I always say about short plaid skirts: The look can go quickly from tartan to "tarty," so if the skirt is short, wear opaque tights to keep it classy.
- Tall boots — Classic, current, and versatile can be jazzed up with a fun finish like patent or reptile for fall. Make sure to give them a dose of waterproofing spray to extend their life.
For specific local shopping suggestions, check out Alison Brownrigg's suggestions. She chronicles her search for affordable essentials at shops and consignment stores throughout Seattle. It is an entertaining read.