January 25, 2008

A Weird Time of Year (For Fashion, Anyway)

Late January. The holiday rush of sequins, flash and glimmer is past, the post-Christmas sales are wiped out. Meanwhile, the display of spring clothing seems both irrelevant and depressing, given that temperatures above 50 are basically out of the question for another two months.

So what's a girl to do?

Enter: the Transition Piece.
Transition pieces are a valuable part of everyone's wardrobe, because of their obvious purpose: to straddle seasons. Transitional pieces in my closet include driving mocs, lightweight cardigans, sateen jackets, khaki pants, pencil skirts and short-sleeved or sleeveless, thin turtlenecks. They are neither too heavy nor too flimsy, are classic items that rise above trends, and are ideal for layering. This lets you adjust for unexpected temperature changes, and mix-and-match pieces for lots of combinations. Use the perfect accessories to push the transition pieces towards one end of the season spectrum, or the other.

As transition pieces look best in traditional cuts, and therefore make good investment pieces, it's hard to get started on collecting these if you're on a limited budget. Let's face it, if you make $35,000/year, the navy cotton button-down cardigan from JCrew will do the job just as well as the same cardigan from Old Navy, provided you care for it properly.

I've found many surprisingly classic bargain items, listed below. When choosing transition pieces, it's important to err on the side of neutral, both in color and details. Linen, tweed, seersucker, and velvet are very season-specific. Materials like cotton, cashmere, twill, oxford cloth and sateen don't scream "Fourth of July" or "Thanksgiving."

Some of these items are on sale, and some aren't, but they have two things in common: they're undoubtedly affordable, and make for classic, seamless transition pieces. I recommend picking up a few today.