I’ve been suspiciously autumnal these past few weeks. Taking photos of rust-coloured trees and crisply blue skies; reading on park benches, oblivious to the piercing cold. Stepping on crunching leaves and gazing around at the sheer beauty of the West End as it’s suffused in a burnished glow. I’m not usually like this. I admire the spectacular photos my friends share on Instagram, but don’t often stop long enough to let the cold creep in. I’ve always thought that autumn is a second-rate season: better than winter, of course, but why get excited about dropping temperatures and dead leaves?
But this year everything’s changed. And it’s all because of my coat.
My coat is a perfect cobalt blue: lined with a furry collar and big, elegant buttons, it instantly injects a bit of glamour into even the most depressingly freezing day. It looks great with skirts and jeans alike, and paired with my black ankle boots or beige suede brogues, the vivid blue is thrown into colourful relief. It goes with pretty much anything I put on – never before have I realised quite how many blue accessories I own – and it makes me feel that bit more stylish even on days where my tights are flecked with mud and my nose is as shiny as Rudolph’s.
This all might sound a bit facetious, but it’s not. Everyone knows that clothes can transform a person’s mind-set in the time it takes to drape a scarf. Workplaces reveal a lot about themselves from the clothes you’re allowed to wear – jeans and a top makes all the difference from a smart, knee-length skirt, believe me – and the minute I swap heels for Converse I know instantly what kind of night out it’s going to be. And that immediate sense of adjustment is never more pertinent than when it comes to seasonal dressing.
The first time you substitute your denim jacket for a nice, warm coat feels like giving in to the onslaught of winter; conversely, peeling off the layers to expose the floral crop top below heralds sunniness and cloudlessly shimmering skies – or, if you’re from Scotland, slightly more temperate weather that still gets you soaked. This is why it’s so difficult for people like me who are never quite able to cope with the fact that they live in cold countries – committing to a coat is like committing to months of slippery roads, heaped blankets on beds, Christmas songs long before it’s even slightly appropriate to think about Christmas. And no one wants to do that.
When I wear my pretty blue coat I feel like I inhabit the land of autumn. I fit more neatly into the idealised vision of an autumn landscape – coats and woolly scarves galore – and cling more closely to my own image of how to look stylish in cold weather. (Although I’m pretty sure that my trusty old khaki parka is actually warmer – but since when did that count in fashion??) Sunglasses and floaty light fabrics do the same in summer: the very act of packing tiny denim shorts and bright bikinis in a suitcase is to feel the sun hot on your skin. Nothing quite prepares you for the changing seasons like clothes – but despite the disheartening practicality of jumpers, it’s always exciting to find that, with each plummet of the temperature, it’s totally acceptable to wear black velvet again.
Each season has its compensations, but the coat’s helping a lot. Fashion makes you appreciate the more beautiful things in life; alters your outlook through the clothes you wear. Whatever the season.