Helene Ravlich: Step into Autumn

March is a strange month when it comes to weather – awkwardly straddling summer and autumn, with elements of each thrown joyously into the mix on any given day.

It’s now most definitely leaning towards autumn though, and dressing for autumn is never as simple as it first seems. Just as you’ve gotten excited about new chunky knits and snuggly coats, the unpredictable New Zealand weather will come back at you with
a mini heatwave.

It’s hard to know what to wear when you’re leaving the house in the morning - coat or no coat? How many layers are too many layers? Thankfully, some of my favourite designers are releasing new collections that are full of light knitwear and trench coats right now, so this is the perfect moment to take a pause and really think about what is missing from your wardrobe before you start adding to it. The key is to arm yourself with a transitional capsule, a collection of lightweight pieces that be styled just as well for sticky end-of-summer days as they can in the depths of winter - not a wardrobe rethink just yet, but a little trans-seasonal update via three essential pieces that will see you through to the arrival of winter.

The Classic Trench
First on my list for autumn is always the trench coat, and for so many obvious reasons. When it comes to pieces with timeless appeal, there are few more enduring than a classic trench. The perfect accompaniment to everything from luxe separates to blue jeans, the bona-fide closet essential promises maximum style mileage making it the ultimate investment piece that really is worth spending a little extra on. A trench is not only perennially chic, it’s practical too. You’re just as likely to throw it on over a summery dress as you are to underpin it with knitwear, and if you’ve been stuck at home for so long you can’t bear to get out of your tracksuit – well a trench works with athflow style and a great pair of sneakers too.

Moochi’s trenchie is one of my favourites from amongst the local offerings, and this season comes in a soft mushroom colour that will work in almost any wardrobe. Long in length and crafted with traditional features, shoulder epaulettes and inverted pleat detailing, it looks beautiful over a simple white tank and jeans for a totally modern mood.

One of my absolute go-to local labels, Mina, is a Grey Lynn-based brand creating refined and effortless wardrobe staples with sustainability and ethical business practices always top of mind. Mina designer Natalie Procter is a master when it comes to effortlessly reimaging classic silhouettes, and each year she releases a trench style that fans of the label just can’t get enough of. Called the Dust Trench, this time it’s available in a check Japanese cotton, fully lined in an ivory viscose. Designed with raglan sleeves and an A-line cut, it has oversized patch flap pockets and adjustable cuffs with dark horn feature buttons, and details like the inverted box pleat in the centre back and the large sash make it undeniably Mina. If you haven’t checked out the brand’s flagship store then I suggest you do. It’s one of several newest arrivals in Grey Lynn shops that is making it quite the inspiring indie retail destination.

Another Grey Lynn-based label that I go back to time and time again is Penny Sage, with super talented creative director Kate Megaw at its helm. I raved about their trench offering this time last year and they’ve gone and done it again, with the beautiful Charlton Trench for AW21’s ‘Favourite Things’ collection an absolute winner. With a matching hat for a little extra protection from the weather, it’s definitely a forever piece and more.

Australia-based, internationally adored label Camilla and Marc have become so adept at crafting the perfect trench that they offer a range of styles to choose from that are each as covetable as the next. The label’s latest collection is called ‘Nostalgia’, which creative director Camilla Freeman-Topper describes as “an intimate portrayal of the past and it’s perceived simplicity, an energetic interpretation of things gone, shaped and crafted for this moment in time and the woman who inhabits the now.” With that in mind, it has several timeless trench options that include the classic Evans Trench Coat in a beautiful, deep petrol green. With a double-breasted silhouette and traditional epaulets, it is designed to be a life-long love affair that you’ll bring out year after year. Another favourite of mine is the label’s Tarantino Trench Coat which comes in a classic biscuit shade and is a little more relaxed and oversized than The Evans. The silhouette of The Tarantino is best suited to cleaner lines underneath, like a great pair of skinny jeans and a classic tee.

Last but by no means least, just arrived instore at Workshop is Acne Studios’ take on the classic style in the form of the Odande Trench in light brown cotton. With a slight stretch and incredibly lightweight, it’s the perfect answer for throwing over a summery evening dress now the temperature has started to drop.

Combat Style
If you’re not quite ready to pack away your summer dresses yet, you don’t have to. Make like Emily Ratajkowski and many a street style star and keep your floaty frocks in rotation by pairing them with combat-style boots instead of Birkenstocks or strappy sandals. Equal parts comfortable and cool, combat boots are now considered an essential component of the fashion uniform.

Take your styling inspiration from the autumn/winter 2020 catwalks, where combat styles were teamed with skirts at Valentino for luxe with a definite edge. Typically, the classic combat boot is characterised by a lace-up feature, but that’s changed a bit recently to include Chelsea-style elastic side inserts, as well as buckles and zippers. Usually the footwear icon is also black, but many designs these days come in brown, grey, olive and white too. Nowadays, you can also find combats with chunky platform soles, high-heel versions, and even wedges, or opt for the classic punk and grunge option by choosing a pair of legendary Doc Martens.

The See, by Chloe Mallory, combat boot at Workshop is a beautiful example of a chic combat, and takes the form of a lace-up ankle boot in shiny Texan calfskin with an internal zipper and two buckle fastenings. The contrasting chunky heel and oversized leather loop enhance the leather boot’s ultra modern structure, and the brand has effortlessly paired them in campaign imagery with a cotton maxi dress.

Locally, Mi Piaci has some stellar options when it comes to the ultimate statement in utilitarian chic. The Dahlia boot is a classic, lace up combat taken up a notch or two, whilst the Daphne style is a Chelsea-meets-combat boot with a moulded tread sole and elasticated gusset in a soft olive leather. Clearly a more on trend style and comfortable to boot, the Daphne is perfect for elevating that breezy summer dress to an edgier, autumnal option. (HELENE RAVLICH)


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