How to autumn-proof your summer dresses | Jess Cartner-Morley

Change is good. This is kind of the whole premise of fashion, when you think about it. It’s an investment in where we go from here. And here we are at the first weekend in September, the most important all-change moment in the fashion calendar. Traditionally, this is when we put our summer wardrobes away and hit the shops for an autumn refresh.

But change in 2020 has taken place on a supersized scale. In an age of titanic upheaval, it doesn’t feel to me like a true reflection of the zeitgeist to be talking about how sage green is the new blush pink, or chorister collars are the new polo necks, or whatever. This is a moment for fashion to step up and change at a more fundamental level.

Mothballing a summer wardrobe at the end of August makes no sense this year. Can summer end, when it never really happened? June without Glastonbury, July without the end of the school year, August without its usual beach rituals. Our summer wardrobes have not really had a proper run-out. Not for want of trying: since I didn’t get to Ibiza, I wore my favourite silver kaftan around a campfire in Dorset. And while there were no long, lazy beach days, my bikini saw a number of short sharp dips in the North Sea. But, you know, still not quite the same.

So rather than shop anew for autumn, fashion now is about how to adapt last season’s wardrobe for what comes next. We need to keep it simple; sometimes the incentive to buy new comes in the yen for a relatively cheap thrill that is undemanding of our time and effort.

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Start with a summer dress: a bright or patterned sleeveless dress that didn’t get as many sun-dappled paella lunches as it warranted this year is the perfect starting point for an early autumn outfit. The suit jacket vibes of a blazer will add gravitas and keep your arms warm. A pattern with a pale background, like this dress, is trickier to wear once the weather turns and you need to add tights into the equation, so make the most of it while you can still go bare-legged.

Oh, and by the way, sage green is the new blush pink. And chorister collars are the new polo necks. There is newness out there when you want it. But the most revolutionary part of this season could be the fact that you don’t need anything new at all.

• Jess wears dress, £40, Vegan sandals, £75, Blazer, her own. Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Alexis Day using Monat and MAC Pro.


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