AW19 | Fall Forward
Autumn has begun and brings with it the usual amenities. Dark clouds, rainfall, dropping temperatures and evenings that begin long before the workday ends.
But you live in the Northwest. And you know that another story is equally true. Because autumn is a time when Seattle comes alive with great swaths of vibrant beauty.
The magenta clouds like wounds torn open from a stormy sky over Eliot Bay. The fiery yellow-reds of nearby maple trees slowly adorning Capitol Hill with their fallen remnants. The tall grass at Discovery Park lit with amber hues from a six o’clock sunset.
And the evergreens proudly displaying their resistance to the very notion of adhering to any modern scheduling convention — a wonderfully defiant chord that strikes at the heart of every dyed-in-the-wool Seattleite.
Beauty is all around us. We need only become aware of it. And with the changing seasons, we adapt our lifestyles to accommodate.
International Fashion Weeks are nearing their end after creating wonderful visions for Spring/Summer 2020. And so we turn our attention to our local fashion communities and prepare for the Northwest Autumn/Winter 2019 season that has only just begun.
The theme this season is functional minimalism styled with pops of brilliant color. Which feels quite at home with our need for a well-proportioned wardrobe capable of attracting the right opportunities while defending against the elements.
Whether preparing for a gala benefitting Children’s Hospital, or a weekend getaway at Mount Rainier National Park, or even (read: especially) a much deserved night-out-af, the Northwest fashion community has options for every occasion.
And when it comes to styling, follow this philosophy to add timeless sophistication to your everyday needs.
In a season marked by a return to school, overtime and holidays, it’s easy to feel pulled in a million directions for a million reasons. Implement and maintain margins for mindfulness that cannot be infringed.
A cluttered mind can be a reflection of a cluttered environment. Create peace by removing non-essentials from the home. KonMari is a perfect place to start. And this extends to the wardrobe. Consider building a capsule wardrobe with trans-seasonal items that redirect your focus where it’s needed most.
Items that are color-neutral, possess strong symmetry and invoke soothing scents all contribute to feelings of calm and order. And they can be mixed and matched as needed with statement pieces that best express your unique personality.
In addition to mindfulness, exercise and sleep (of which you’re getting plenty, right?) update your wardrobe with two or more outfits both well-tailored and intentionally minimalistic to ensure you begin your day feeling calm, confident and in control.
Sarah Alexandra offers elegant and modern signature shirts for all occasions. Bearing the prestige of Seattle’s own bespoke designer and tailor Renee Bassetti, the Sarah Alexandra Signature Shirt gives ready-to-wear a uniquely bespoke feel. In a Q&A published on their website, Bassetti offers this insight into the inspiration for the garment as well as its impact on its wearer: “It is all about her; her eyes, her soul, and her personality, which is held in her face. . . The shirt design is so well thought out and executed that it is substantial. Every detail was analyzed and it wasn’t over stylized. . . This is the most important aspect: it really takes on the personality of the woman wearing it.”
Cami & Tank offers made-to-measure camisoles and tank tops ranging from timeless undergarments to elegant outerwear: “[ Our camis and tank tops ] can be worn under a sweater or cardigan as a second layer of skin. Or it can be worn as a fashion statement.” Founder and designer Kelly Su oversees three fashion labels including Composure By Kelly and creates wardrobe essentials and separates for everyday wear.
Nuciano provides beautiful leather goods ranging from small accessories to clutches and handbags. Founder Joy Egbejimba’s brand name, Nuciano, is derived from the word Nnukachiano which conveys, in her words, “…the freedom to believe and express yourself as an independent woman.” And her handbags are as distinct as those who wear them.
In daily life, you’re expected to rise to the occasion in innumerable ways. Whether it’s work, home, family or friends, you do so selflessly, yet all-too-often, thanklessly.
Still you rise. You hear the call and run headlong into the fray, no matter the depths of your pain, because you know that others depend on you. And you, them. You are more than a leader. You are a warrior calling others to a higher standard by adorning yourself in love, kindness and generosity.
Accessories are an opportunity to express yourself in fun and creative ways. But they play a larger role in how you see yourself, and in turn, how others see you. Like the modern power suit, it’s important to have statement accessories that affirm the reaction you want to inspire.
Mary Janes can inspire feelings of youthfulness, playfulness and innocence, while stilettos can inspire feelings of seductiveness, control and inflexibility. The dichotomy between a long-chain pendant necklace and a taut choker play to similar effect.
But it’s totally okay to choose something simply because it looks great and you love it. Especially if you feel great wearing it. And that’s really the point. You spend plenty of time focused on others. Accessorize your wardrobe in such a way that commands the respect you deserve.
Akrofi Adjumani designs formalwear and statement pieces featuring bold colors, repeating patterns and unique silhouettes. His Ghanaian heritage and exploration of architecture weave analogous threads of beauty and strength into a reimagined Northwest sensibility. Building on the foundations of his Afropolitan collection, we clearly see a multicultural artist emerging as an important storyteller imbuing his garments with symbols of his nation’s cultural history.
Squirrel Vs. Coyote creates jewelry and bodices from renewable sources whose complexity and elegance nearly defy description. Founder and armorer Alexis Divine produces each piece by hand in her Tacoma studio and offers a couture experience for a more personalized and meaningful connection to your wearable work of art.
Baleen is a Ballard based jewelry and accessories company with a clear focus on minimalist design, modern aesthetics and a surprising amount of fun. Formed by Co-Founders Leah Lawrence and Billy Bartel in 2013, they have grown to house seven employees that produce a rotating collection of freshly designed handmade goods for everyday wear.
This cannot be overstated.
So often we tell ourselves to be strong. To tough it out. And we do so without exception or complaint. We do it because it needs to be done. And you can do anything. But no one can do everything.
If summer was a time for recreation and adventure, autumn reminds us that all things have their season. And this season, we must harvest in light of a setting sun, that we may face the coming winter with intention and resolve.
You already know stress kills. You already have a mindfulness practice (right?). And you already know there’s never enough time in a day. But time is never found — it’s made. Especially during a season with so many responsibilities. As with agriculture, if you continue to harvest without replenishing the soil, you’ll quickly run out of stock. Or worse.
So why do we hesitate?
Often the hardest part of making time for intentional replenishment can be giving ourselves the permission to do so. It feels so wrong. Like we’re letting others down. Especially our loved ones. Especially when the standards we apply to ourselves feel unattainable despite our best efforts.
But we can’t give what we don’t have. And it takes real vulnerability to admit that a change must be made in us before we can make a change in our world.
Vulnerability is one of our greatest sources of strength that leads us along the path of empathy into meaningful interconnectedness. And sometimes it takes a retreat from the everyday to create the space necessary to open ourselves to the loving-kindness that vulnerability allows.
This doesn’t negate the reality of pain. Some things we carry will never see resolution. And some winters feel like they are eternal. But hope begins exactly where we’re at. And like Brené Brown poignantly identifies, it begins with an awareness that we are worthy because we say we are.
All it takes is that first step toward a willingness to embrace the vulnerability we run from for fear of shame and abandonment. And realize and internalize those three simple words that erode our fear and pride and position us toward hope and healing:
“I am enough.”
When it comes to fashion, it’s important to understand that the best results come from embracing yourself exactly as you are. This is the very essence of Seattle Style.
You are at the forefront of a fashion revolution made up of millions of others choosing an ethical and sustainable path forward. Add items to your life as they become necessary and desirable, that allow you to express your individuality, and that do the deep work needed to knit our communities closer than ever.
Trends will come and go. But you will not. You cannot. We need you.
Exactly as you are.
S C H A I is more than a fashion label. It’s a design philosophy built around timeless themes, innovative silhouettes and exigent social commentary that deconstructs fashion itself and elevates its wearers into bearers of positive change. This is perhaps best seen in the seminal Legion collection, where form and function unite to tell a story of interconnectedness between “humble visionaries” in the face of social isolation, and where comfort and style are intrinsically intertwined. Founder and designer Suk Chai unites her love of functional fashion with social responsibility by ethically sourcing Italian textiles constructed in New York from her design studio in Bellevue, Washington.
A.Oei Studio is a womenswear label specializing in small batch, sustainably sourced collections with an emphasis on design and wearability. Founder Angeline Oei combines her love of custom prints inspired by contemporary fine art with explorations of innovative silhouettes, and presents collections that artfully render a powerful and balanced sensibility.
Crescent Down Works has specialized in timeless outerwear since 1974. Founder Anne Michelson began with a down vest and her love of the outdoors. The family-owned company has since expanded into jackets, parkas, hoodies and sweaters made for and inspired by the Pacific Northwest in their Pioneer Square factory.
Our sincerest appreciation to S C H A I and Akrofi Adjumani for their generous participation in our fashion sitting. Jeana Turner for her kindness and professionalism. Erica Mer for her fashion styling. Fara Conley for her makeup design and creative input.
And to you, dear reader. Stay fabulous. The world needs you now more than ever.