Makeup, Hair, and Fashion: Autumn Essentials

So, I’ve been trying to focus on generating some blog posts filled with fun, lighthearted writing about topics such as recipes, fashion, and holiday festivities, as opposed to much of the academic writing I’m used to. I’ve been shopping and compiling a list of autumn essentials, staples that should be in every girl’s closet for the chilly season. It’s been cold and rainy, and I’ve been a bit under the weather with some sinus issues and also food poisoning (thanks, Panera), so I figured it’s a perfect Saturday to curl up and write a post about fall fashion. This means I can actually take a break from grading and answering my students’ emails, so I should probably make some tea and put on my purple sweater socks.

I used to think I had to dress “professionally” when teaching, so I stocked up on boring clothes in neutral colors. I then went to work and felt stiff and uncomfortable. It’s taken me some time to realize that I’m still young and I don’t have to dress like some of the fuddy-duddies I’ve had as colleagues (sorry, guys!). Pant suits, yuck. No thanks. I’ve discovered that being a professional simply means no cleavage, no short skirts, and covering my body art. This is how I’m comfortable anyway, and I make it a point to wear what I want all the time now, not just when I’m lounging at home. If you carry yourself with confidence, that’s professional.

I have this beautiful, bohemian blouse in both cream and black, and it can be paired with flared jeans for a hippie look or black leggings for a simpler look.
I have this beautiful, bohemian blouse in both cream and black, and it can be paired with flared jeans for a hippie look or black leggings for a simpler look.

I’ve decided my theme for autumn this year is black: black boots, black bag, black lacy blouse. I’ll admit that shopping gives me a natural high and offers some lovely catharsis when I’m stressed or anxious. If you suffer from buyer’s remorse, just decide that you’ll toss something from your closet each time you make a new addition. Here’s a short list of what I see as autumn essentials this season.

A Basic Denim Shirt

I’ve been meaning to pick up a nice denim shirt, which matches well with leggings, a nice scarf, and boots, or even canvas sneakers. I found one I loved at TJ Maxx–my favorite place to treasure-hunt–but even at a bargain, I’m not paying $30 for a blouse. This piece is so versatile; it can be dressed up for work or dinner or it can be dressed down if you’re just running out for groceries. A plaid shirt is also a must for both fall and winter. Some days, I enjoy sporting the tomboy look, and a plaid shirt accomplishes that nicely.

I picked up this Mossimo denim shirt from Target for a little over $20--not bad.
I picked up this Mossimo denim shirt from Target for a little over $20–not bad.

A Great Pair of Boots

The trend right now is riding boots, which I’m unsure how I feel about. I have major issues with high, fashionable boots because I have pretty thick calves (19 inches!): an annoying gift from my father. Because of my monstrous calves, I typically walk past the boots at TJ Maxx, feeling them all judging me quietly from their beautiful perches. However, I struck gold recently and found a pair of black, faux-suede boots, made by White Mountain, that look adorable if I simply push them down after I’ve zipped them, which gives them a great slouchy look over leggings. It was painful breaking them in, but they feel pretty good now.

Black Dallon boots by Rocket Dog, who always make adorable shoes.
Black Dallon boots by Rocket Dog, who always make adorable shoes.

A Luxurious Handbag

I’ve spent weeks searching for the perfect black handbag for fall, after realizing that in all the crap overflowing in my closet, I actually don’t have a bag in this color. TJ Maxx carries some great brands, but I couldn’t find any Urban Expressions bags, which I’m completely in love with, so I took my search online. I landed on DSW and found the Dakota bag in black for $60. Nailed it. This bag feels so good just to hold and carry; it’s youthful and classy, and I love everything about it. It has the woven handles, detachable strap, and very pretty lining inside.

This bag is big enough to carry all your loot, but also very simple and practical.
This bag is big enough to carry all your loot, but also very simple and practical.

A Cozy Infinity Scarf

The infinity scarf only became popular a few years ago, and it’s another necessity for cold weather. Not only do these scarves look adorable and can be worn in a variety of ways, their circular shapes ensure that they won’t fall off or leave you vulnerable to the chill in the air. I just picked up a brown one to pair with everything this year.

A nice cozy scarf is a great way to tie together any outfit or cover up and stay warm when wearing a low tank top or blouse.
A nice cozy scarf is a great way to tie together any outfit or cover up and stay warm when wearing a low tank top or blouse.

I’ve been wearing the same slouchy, camel-colored knit hat from Maurice’s for several years now, and it’s so worn that it’s begun to droop over my eyes. I spent $20 on a nice hat that I found at–you guessed it–TJ Maxx. The hat is awesome because it’s handmade, is a neutral gray hue (hats should be so they can be matched with anything and everything), and has a wonderful fleece band on the inside to help keep you warm from the wind and snow. This hat is also oversized and slouchy, which I’m realizing is sort of the theme for many of the pieces I prefer. Some people dislike hats, but I’m a big fan; they can serve multiple purposes as they can complete an outfit and also keep you cozy and dry. My hat is made by a company called Turtle Fur, which appears to be very earth-friendly.

Hobo gloves are another great item to have stashed away for when it gets cold.
Hobo gloves are another great item to have stashed away for when it gets cold.

A Practical Hair Routine

I jumped on the wild ombre bandwagon over the summer, and I loved the results. I’ve also let my hair go, meaning that I no longer use heat to style it; it can do as it pleases. I’m tired of contributing several hours each week to manipulating my hair by torturing it with the dryer brush I’ve used for years, a routine which usually leaves my arms aching and me racing out the door because I’ve spent way too much time on this part of my beauty regimen. Wild ombre doesn’t require any maintenance, which is the best part of this look. I used to do crazy things to my hair, including bleaching and using ridiculous colors like pink and red, which resulted in constant upkeep–and also unsightly roots and basically looking like a clown. Yikes.

I’ve actually noticed that I like my hair way more when it’s messy, after being tousled in my sleep after a shower, and days after wearing it up in a bun and spritzed with sea salt spray or Fekkai Summer Hair, which smells amazing. One of the ironic secrets I’ve learned to cute and sexy hair: don’t use a mirror! Also, care…but not too much. I’m definitely carrying this summer look with me into the colder months.

I want beach waves, even in October.
I want beach waves like these, even in October.

An Autumn-Inspired Eyeshadow Palette

The Moonshadow Baked Palette from Sephora is amazing. I picked up the “In The Nude” palette not long ago. It’s around $30, which isn’t ideal, but I found that it’s totally worth it. This is the only eyeshadow palette I’ve been using so far this season, and it can be used to create so many different looks. I’ve read some reviews that criticize this palette for being a bit messy, which I can agree with, but I don’t see it as a deal-breaker. These colors stay put all day, even without primer; the pigment is pretty amazing. It definitely makes sense to get that “go-to” item in your makeup drawer for fall and winter, which call for some darker hues and more dramatic looks, even during the daytime. I pair these colors with a sheer, cocoa lip gloss (Bonne Bell) and some plum blush (elf).

These colors are super glittery yet sophisticated, and include cream, light bronze, soft gold, peach, taupe, silver, deep brown, honey brown, deep sienna, and plum.
These colors are super glittery yet sophisticated, and include cream, light bronze, soft gold, peach, taupe, silver, deep brown, honey brown, deep sienna, and plum.

I hope this little list offers some sense of what you may need for this season and what inspires you to make a treasure-hunting trip to an outlet store or even a fun consignment shop like Plato’s Closet or The Attic. This is by no means a comprehensive list or a set of rules. Style develops and changes as we grow and get older–go with it. Wear what makes you comfortable and what makes you feel good.

Surf Pinterest to round up some cute ideas. Happy shopping!

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