It’s that time of the year again—the three awkward weeks that stand in the way between the unadulterated joys of Thanksgiving and winter break. Between the unwieldy-turned weather, the mad whirlwind of lectures and exams and actually finding time to—dare we say it?—sleep, the average Stanford student is often left with little time or energy to figure out the perplexing situation on the fashion front.
But now is when we at Intermission let you in on our favorite top-secret life-hack ever discovered: Dressing well makes acing your finals a whole lot easier. That’s right—putting your best foot forward in Chem 221 is inevitably much more effective with a pair of sleek suede boots. (How else do you think you’ll bond with that advanced organic chemistry professor? Pun intended.) And studies show it! Here, we examine the best ways to navigate the articles, colors and textures of a well-assembled autumnal wardrobe.
No, the sky gods aren’t having a giant Dionysian frat party—it’s just the fall weather being unpredictable. With the temperature fluctuating more than the quality of food at Lagunita and the rain more fickle than the guy in front of you at The Axe and Palm, layering clearly is your best friend.
Cardigans make for a versatile, easily removable and wholly stylish addition to your outfit, and can even serve as an elegant outermost layer if they feature fisherman or cable knits—intricate ribs and weaves on the front panels that provide rich visual texture. Added bonus: gender neutral!
There really is no better time, too, to break out the scarves, because really, nothing keeps you company and warms the cockles of your heart on the cold, lonely bike ride to your 8 a.m. lecture like a chunky scarf wrapped around your gullet. Whether chiffon silk or luxurious pashmina, a scarf draped casually around the neck adds an element of dégagé cool to your outfit, lifting you from Plain Jane to style savant.
We’d say that the best thing about fall is that it becomes too cold for people to wear flip-flops anymore—keep them to the beach and the bathroom, folks!—but then the Ugg boots rear their shearling heads, and those aren’t much better, either. (There’s a reason why they’re called Uggs…#justsaying.) We’d much prefer the sleeker silhouette of proper boots, which provide warmth, elegance and ankle support for the hypothetical post-downpour bike accident. So leave the Uggies for après-ski, and try the attire of equestrians and motorists with some knee-length leathers or calf-high biker boots.
With the passing of summer’s exuberant vibrance, seasonally appropriate clothing naturally takes on muter tones—because really, who but the most sartorially incontinent among us could bear to wear sky blue in the overcast weather that we have been plagued with in recent weeks?
Yet if summer is the season for a firework display of fashion colors and winter the season for somber navy and monochrome, then surely fall is what German philosopher and dandy Gottfried Leibniz would describe as the “best of all possible worlds.”
The trick with this limbo is striking a balance between these sartorial extremes—autumn, in fact, has traditionally been a time for men to incorporate a full palette of colors into their wardrobes with subdued appropriateness without looking like Willy Wonka.
Mirroring the rich shades of nature is arguably the best way to rack up the autumnal style stakes: between moss green, tan, chocolate, burnt orange, burgundy and aubergine, you’ve essentially got your bases covered. A mustard fine-gauge V-neck cashmere sweater, for instance, bespeaks just the right amount of transitional chic, and quintessential American designers Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren are clearly on to this tonal secret; across the pond, too, storied English labels Mulberry and Burberry fly the fall color flag high. (We’d drop a poor gag about these berries going back to nature, but we’re saving that for spring pickin’.) Think Fonzworth Bentley, not Andree 3000.
And just because we know someone out there is wondering: No, the cardinal red of your standard-issue Stanford hoodie, most unfortunately, does not count as earth-tone.
There is an old Native American proverb that goes: With the hot Stanford summer out of the way, aesthetically pleasing textures come out to play. Woolen knits are the easiest way to incorporate something other than plain ol’ cotton into your wardrobe—from scarves to sweaters to cardigans, the rougher, uneven nap provides textural contrast, almost as a sartorial metaphor for the impending winter. In the same line of thought, tweed coats, too, make for an interesting diversion from the usual puffy nylon parkas that overrun Stanford.
And while jeans will work with anything, surely you could do better than to wear them all year round (yes, we know you haven’t washed them since winter quarter freshman year). Corduroy pants are a traditional fall favorite and often come in the aforementioned autumnal colors that are considerably snappier than the typical navy tones of denim. A word of caution, though: Too narrow a width of the wale—the ribs that form corduroy’s distinctive pattern—and the fabric becomes dangerously similar in appearance to velvet. No one wants to look like a has-been <\#213>60s disco star.
At the top end of the style spectrum are fur and leather, which would look too over-the-top for summer but are lush enough for autumn. Not quite for the shrinking violet, these materials feature heavily in ultra-stylish Italian labels Ermenegildo Zegna and Gucci’s fall/winter collections. A motorcycle coat made from shearling—where the fur is still attached to the sheepskin pelt—makes for a truly badass combination of these two materials, putting the winning back in twinning. And worry not, all ye animal activist types—we fully approve of substitute materials, too, so keep calm and pleather on.
A final word
Having mastered the mysteries of transitional dressing, here’s an extra little secret for the newfound natty ninja in you: Because around this neck of the woods, January and February are really just autumn masquerading as winter, these fall tips will see you through the next quarter, too. Now go forth and with your professorial sartorial trappings, master this fall—and finals.