Fall fashion in the Berkshires: Style in transition


Yo-yo weather and temperatures bouncing between the 40s and the 80s. Summer gardens still in bloom while the tree leaves are turning from hues of green to red to gold. Ice cream trucks still patrolling the streets, while cafe signs boast pumpkin lattes and apple cider doughnuts.

It's a very confusing time for all of us, and now, on top of it all, we have to figure out what to wear every day.

While New York City's fashion week is busy boasting Spring 2014 collections, some of us here in the Berkshires are trying to figure out the balance between tops and bottoms, accessories and footwear during this time of transition from hot to cooler-weather layers.

Recently, Eagle photographer Stephanie Zollshan (who's also quite fashionable herself) found a few good September fashion role models among us:

  •  Hana van der Kolk, a dance and art faculty member at Williams College, was seen rocking black capri-length pants and a fitted tan long-sleeved cargo-type jacket over a graphic-design T-shirt -- a layer of warmth worn over cool summer comfort.
  •  Williams freshman Alyza Ngbokoli was recently spotted wearing summery mint-green jeggings with a three-quarter sleeve, neutral colored crocheted top. But what made her outfit really pop was her leopard print scarf.

Scarves are key accessories for adding style and warmth to any outfit worn by any gender.

  •  Liam Gallagher, a senior at Williams, was found by our photographer lounging on the steps of Chapin Hall, wearing a long-sleeved flannel-style plaid shirt in summer hues of white, blue and teal, atop a pair of relaxed brown pants with a pair of stylish dock shoes worn without socks.
  •  Frank Newton, owner of the Summer White House Inn in Lenox also caught the attention of the camera lens. Like Gallagher, he too wore some dock-style shoes, as well as a straw Panama hat to shade his face from the sun. His outfit, however, was straight-up fall layers: periwinkle sweater with a slight V-neck worn over a yellow collared shirt. His khaki-style slacks were a sort of heather red hue in worn over tall, slightly showing socks that matched the sweater.

The time period of approaching fall is a fantastic time to mix and match layers, accessories and styles, as these people have done. The key is making classic clothing and trendy pieces work for you.

Pittsfield resident Kaitlyn Pierce says the top two rules of fashion and style is to always be yourself and to never be afraid of changing things up as you and your lifestyle do.

Pierce is the 26-year-old co-founder of blog-trends.com, an online hub for beauty, fashion and lifestyle bloggers. The new mom is also the social media manager for WhatToExpect.com at Everyday Health.

Earlier this week during an interview with The Eagle, she told her story of how she once got stopped by a Lucky Magazine style editor at a fashion industry conference so he could photograph her sparkly owl ring.

But less than a decade ago, Pierce was a self-described "tomboy who lived in jeans, T-shirts and hoodies."

"One day I realized the fact that ‘Hey, I'm a girl. I can wear dresses and skirts and feel pretty,' " Pierce said.

"Growing up, I think people have expectations for you and what you look like, but you shouldn't let other people define who you are. No matter what age, we're all still growing up," she said, "All the stuff, the changes that happen in life, help define who we are. Why wouldn't our clothes reflect that?"

For practical reasons, our fashions tend to change with the seasons out of the need to either keep warm or to cool off.

The first step into the fall season is looking at what you have.

"Usually this time of year we have our fall and winter stuff packed away. If you're like me, you accumulate so many things. So it's a good time to get rid of some things too," Pierce said.

Berkshire County has several places, from thrift stores to consignment boutiques and community centers that will take your gently used or never worn and unwanted threads.

After you clean house, you'll have some room for something new.

Pierce says it's always good to stock up on a few staple pieces, like a good pair of heavier fitted pants, some go-anywhere sweaters and a couple of "really nice blazers."

The pants can be worn with a short sleeve shirt, a sweater can be worn with lighter leggings or a skirt and a blazer can be worn over a T-shirt or tank top on the days when temperatures fluctuate.

A spread by Annie Leibovitz in this month's Vogue Magazine favors "sweeping skirts and tailored jackets" for women, and a mix of old-fashioned looks with modern hems, fabrics and patterns. Solid Navy blue, grays and softer browns seem to be favored as unisex colors this season.

GQ Magazine's fall fashion spread with British actor Eddie Redmayne ("Les Misérables") includes classic pieces like a tailored topcoat in a brighter camel color, a black leather motorcycle jacket, slim tweed suits, Steve Jobs-eque turtlenecks and trim gray wool trousers paired with a sturdy, chunky-soled shoe or boot.

September through November typically brings cool weather trends, which makes it the perfect time to play with accessories like boots, scarves and hats.

"I'm an accessories junkie," Pierce said. "Your shape may change but accessories always fit."

Browsing locally, Berkshire County retailers have some fun pieces to offer.

While Pierce said she likes to shop online for footwear, she also favors Shooz in Lenox for both good sales, as well as inspiration.

In its fall collection, the Pittsfield-based New England Coastal Clothing Co. is offering a unisex black and red plaid scarf for and affordable $18.

The School for Style pop-up shop in Williamstown has some great vintage hats for women and lots of other unique accessories that will spice up any wardrobe of basic box store shirts.

Also, local farmers markets aren't all about produce and flowers. Several of them host vendors who make jewelry and clothing too.

"You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars. You can have the most generic outfit on, but accessories or a statement piece takes an outfit to a whole new level," Pierce said.


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