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Navigating the Southern Fall Wardrobe

Navigating the Southern Fall Wardrobe

Living in a northern, or even the MidAtlantic region of the south, will render some extreme changes in climate, allowing us the opportunity to snuggle in with an Irish wool sweater, cozy throws, bulky knit socks, stylish scarves and layers and layers of fabulous tweeds, tartans and knits.Then again, for those of us who live five miles from the face of the sun (it's five miles, right?) - or at least it feels like that, navigating an official fall wardrobe can be a little confounding. Visiting for Thanksgiving or Christmas, packing from a colder, to warmer, climate may provide some angst, too.

When packing, even for a weekend, I prefer to stick with three colors - everything coordinates easily, including accessories. These gorgeous pieces in cream, nutmeg and Navy blue, including accessory pieces from our own collection, work seamlessly together. Add in a lightweight, long sleeved T-shirt in Navy or cream, or both, possibly a short bootie, and you're set.


Texture, color and common sense matters - which leads to three simple rules that apply in whatever season and any place in the world. They are:

  • common sense
  • the color shift &
  • fabrics

Common Sense - is there a possibility of snow or rain? What are the expected temperatures? Will I need to layer because temperatures will change daily, or within the day - meaning shirt, sweater/cardigan, coat? You don't want to wear wool in Florida in the fall, but you do want to have the appearance that you know what time of year it is. Leave the wool at home, bring the heavy knit cotton sweater, vanilla velvet or canvas jeans, and booties. You also don't really expect to wear strappy sandals on the streets of Chicago in February - do you? Leave those in your closet unless you're making a change at a formal event. 

Color Shifts - autumn here in the south is often more about color choices than it is about temperature. A lot of areas like Colorado and Montana can get snow pretty early in the fall. These folks already have their snow boots and shearling jackets ready. But in southern states, color is key to building a successful fall wardrobe. Keep the white jeans, but not bright white. Opt, instead, for ivory, French Vanilla, or cream. If pumpkin isn't your color (it's not for everyone), look for shades that are less bright than summer, like Wedgwood blues, shades of gray, crimson, plum and deeper greens. You can build a great wardrobe around an forest green or plum investment T-shirt - add a slouchy V-neck sweater for texture, or just an oversized tartan scarf in deeper tones. If you're really good at this - you can continue to wear bright pinks, or blues, but they should be paired with chocolates, caramel and rich, deep greens. 

Fabrics - texture matters, as does the composition of the fabric itself. Before moving to Florida, I thought the only option for autumn was "what I was wearing in summer everywhere else."  I was wrong about that. Over theyears, I had invested in a full fall-winter wardrobe in Maryland, the likes of which I would never wear again unless I intended to travel north in colder weather. Believe me, I love my angora sweaters and wood tartans, but I tried wool, once, and it was insanely hot in Florida, even in December. However, fabrics like seersucker and gingham are not options. Not in winter, not even in Florida, ever.

I had to look for deeper shades of of colors that I wear well. Pinks become deeper and more muted, purples and blues, and I had to find these color shifts in fabrics that were friendly to warmer climates. I suggest cotton and cotton blends (with a little Spandex), breathable sweaters and pullovers, tight-knits that are acrylic or cotton, and definitely faux-leather in shades of brown, caramel, Navy and black - and don't forget the felt hat! Our southern climate demands the look of the season without all the heavy weight fabrics.

If you're new to the south, or thinking of fall into winter travel here, I suggest following one of my favorite fashion tastemakers on Instagram, Emily McCarthy. Emily is a Savannah-based southern artist and clothing designer, who understands the nuances of building great southern wardrobes in all seasons. She skillfully embraces the true southern aesthetic of color and vibe, while bringing us gently into an entirely new season of less humid breezes, Saturday tailgates and campfires. 


In the Magnolia Blue Southern Cargo collection, I've curated BoHo recycled sea glass and wood bracelets from coastal Maryland, and rich, chocolate browns in resin tortoise shell and pearls and genuine Tigers Eye from Texas. Our unique medium blue chinoiserie bracelet, also from Texas, is a southern favorite in every season and our beaded bee bags are modern classics that will stand the test of time. This capsule captures both traditional flair with a fun BoHo streak! Textured fabrics, like the tweedy jacket trimmed in denim, and accessories, lend a gravitas to the shades of blue and teal which both pair well with beige and brown. 


Personal style is king in the south - whether you're more on the preppy side, love to mix country favorites with some classic pieces or blend your coastal influences with a jean jacket or faux-leather slacks, have fun with it!

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