fall 2011 look book

This autumn’s look is all about nostalgia (personal or as remembered by a nation), feelings of warmth and comfort and trends that are easy to pull off (case in point: feathers crimped into the hair by a hairdresser in-the-know last 4-6 weeks and are maintenance free – wash ’em, dry ’em, flat iron ’em as you would your tresses!). Lessons to learn: You don’t have to look like Pocahontas or a hippie when wearing feathers and prints inspired by the great outdoors. Take a gander at my head to toe to home “it” looks for fall 2011, all from my current collections. Remember: my goal this season is to source outfits from my existing wares. No shopping sprees for me! 🙂


When talking about color it all boils down to one question: are we talking cool or warm tones? This fall, we’re talking warm, for obvious reasons; The leaves are changing to crisp shades of yellows, oranges and browns. While you never want to slap a bright orange or yellow on your face (unless you are posing in a high-fashion mag, well then, be my guest!) you will want to play up the landscapes around you with gold and red-brown. Whether you have brown eyes or not, an eye palate like Revlon’s Blushed Wine, with its subtle purple undertone (uber flattering for olive and yellow toned complexions) will carry you through to the depths of winter. Play the lightest tones where your eye meets your nose and under your brow; the darkest at the outer crease of your eye. Fill the remaining shades in between for optimal eye definition. To round out the look I love Avon’s creamy liner/shadow in Brown Black. It has flecks of gold in the formula, which once applied won’t be noticeable, but will do wonders to create the illusion of wide open, sparkling eyes. I top any eye-look off with a Maybelline mascara, after all they are the best in the industry. The Falsies Volum’ Express is my latest go-to, especially the Brown Black formula in the new Flared tube. For highlighter, bronzer and blush I like Physicians’ Formula’s line, offset by Benefit’s Boiing concealer and Eye Bright and set with Palladio’s Rice Powder in Natural. For lips, I live by the old adage “match your lips and your cheeks” and to do so I cheat: rubbing my finger in my blush and across my lips. I seal the color with Bath and Body Work’s Mentha Supreme 2X, which moisturizes like no other and claims to freshen breath!. I top off the whole shabang with a Philosophy gloss in the flavor of the season, such as Cinnamon Buns. YUM!


Unless you’re 100% distracted as you follow my must-do’s, you know by now that a feather in your tresses is as on-trend as it gets. There are a ton of color options out there, but I suggest the “natural” chevron patterned feathers in a classic combo like black and white or amber and brown. While you’re getting set up with a bit of mother nature, toss in a few face-framing highlights in chestnut, auburn, or honey, depending on your all-over color. Tip: Go for super thin highlights, they’ll pick up your fading summer tan and will look tres au naturale!


I know WAY to many people who put on a shirt, a pair of pants, shoes and walk out the door. Unless you’re going on a jog, you might as well be showing up to work/a party/life naked.

Accessories make an outfit by pulling out colors or motifs buried in a dress’s pattern or by adding individuality to a run-of-the-mill, blank canvas of a shirt. Because the clothing seen on the runway for fall 2011 was by and large neutral, piling on strands of color will make you stand out from the pack. These necklaces, left, scream “fresh for fall”, combining poppy red, bright blue and golden rod yellow, aka colors of the Great Plains and thus, of the season. A few strands of natural wood beads warm up the mix and mellow your whole look. And yes, you should wear all of these at once. Most definitely.  Long wood bead necklace, surf shop in North Carolina; three-strand wood bead necklace, Kohl’s; Amber and Deep Orange crystal and ribbon necklace, Nordstrom Rack; Multi-colored plastic chain mail necklace, local department store in Granada, Spain. 

If pairing different strands seems like an overwhelming task, look to a necklace that is so baroque it needn’t a thing extra, such as this butterfly chain, right, from Lucky Brand via Nordstrom Rack. The bright coral and turquoise offset with bronzed beads is the perfect look for right now, aka late summer and early fall. Remember, while it’s tempting to pull out scarlet and plum colored sweaters after the summer’s hiatus, there is still plenty of time for airier hues. Pair this necklace with an oatmeal colored mock-turtle and you’ll be in style through October.

If your torso is already carrying the right amount of visual interest (blouses with built-in décolletage highlighters are amazing!), consider earrings AND a ring. These earrings from Honey and Hive via Piperlime.com were one of the best purchases I made during the post-Holiday sales of 2010. Next to my university’s ring, these babies take the cake for accessory most worn.

This chevron ruby ring, set in gold is another go-to for me when the temperature starts to drop (gold belongs to the family of warm colors, so its a great choice for fall. Look past silver to bronze and cooper,too). It’s a statement piece that doesn’t shout. If you’re looking for a cocktail ring to take you from day to night, look for a darker stone in a sleek, linear shape, such as this elongated diamond. A pile of baubles taking over your hand is so out. As this piece is an heirloom passed down from my grandmother, I cannot suggest a place to shop; but I’ve heard people scoring great pieces at pawn shops. As we near Christmas, you may have great luck!

Remember how I said turquoise was a good “pop” color? On your hand, it’s a great “pop” color, especially when paired with this season’s neutral nail polishes, see below. This ring, right, has been a part of my jewelry collection for so long I cannot begin to surmise from whence it came. All I know, is that I’d be lost without it on many days of my fashionable life. (As an aside, if you’re intrigued by the leaf plate enveloping the ring, check out the imade AND imake pages on alithearchitect!)

Movin’ on down to the waistline -or as I prefer – somewhere below that line. I’m talking about belts, people!: Big, chunky, leather numbers and thin, sinuous ropes. To be clear, these are not the sort of belts you’ll be looping through belt loops or relying on to hold up your trousers. These belts are pure decoration; a necklace for your hips, if you will.

I have a mighty collection of belts and if I had just a smidge more time in the morning (ie, if I woke up even two minutes earlier) I would wear them much more often. Belts can do wonders to a too-boxy top when cinched at your proper waist and they can add an effortlessly cool feel when slung low on your hips.  A rope belt can go either way; a 2″ thick leather belt is best worn in the latter style, complete with a massive buckle. My two leather belts are vintage pieces from my dad’s collection of things he wore daily in the 70’s while working for General Electric in places like Kansas and South Dakota. They’re embossed with scenes from the wild west and finished off with novelty buckles like a souvenir from the Shorem Nuclear Plant (irony. It’s great in fashion,too.) and what may be the world’s largest penny, actually made of copper like in the good ol’ days of U.S. minting. Thrift stores would be my rec., here. Or go fishing in your relatives’ closets!

These boots were made for walking! Seriously, the two boots pictured, left, are some of the most comfortable footwear I own! In popular culture cowboys and indians are enemies. In actuality, European settlers of the Americas, aka maverick cowboys, couldn’t have survived or thrived without the native’s help. Celebrate that coming together with a merging of your own on days when moccasins just won’t cut it. Both boots are from Report, via Nordstrom Rack and Ross. For dressier occasions, wedges are eternally hip and allow for actual walking to occur while in sky-high heels. The shoe pictured, from Kohl’s, amp up the glam with gold and bronze toned grommets. For less chilly days, an ankle hugging sandal, like this one from Soda via TJMaxx, is great for tucking in long pants. Don’t forget the fur! These leg warmers, Vera Wang for Kohls, glide over to-the-knee boots but look great over a simple heel, too. Also great for hiding too-short pant hemlines. Now look who doesn’t have to buy new pants for fall!


If you’ve heeded my advice, above, you could wear dark brown straight-leg pants (favs: Land’s End + Eddie Bauer) and a plain Jane cotton sweater everyday (Gap) and be more stylin’ than 80% of the people you encounter in your life of Starbucks runs and gallery openings. But is that really the goal? NO! (fyi: the goal is to be more put together than everyone in the room. Without goals, achievement is nothing.)

For the office, a trip to the art museum: This inky, oatmeal and pumpkin colored sweater is pure art. From Ralph Lauren’s Chaps collection, sold through Kohl’s, this draping cut is flattering and the patterning is truly Marni meets Missoni. I’ve worn it with a coral shell as well as a black one. It’s really quite versatile and appropriate.

For farmer’s markets and casual weekends:
If you’re like me, the seasons go by so quickly that despite your best efforts, you end up with little worn or never worn wardrobe items. I fell in love with this dress, right, in March when it first debuted on the racks at Nordstrom and, standing in the dressing room, dreamed of all the events I could wear it to, blissfully. I’ve worn it once. It’s a travesty, I know. I am determined to wear it once more before darkness settles-in well before the evening news. The pattern is right on trend, and the “pop” colors, as discussed above, are present and accounted for, too. The cut of the dress, the material and the creamy white background color are slight deterrents; however, over a knitted pair of navy tights, with boots and a layering system up top, this dress transitions right into early fall with ease.

For night: The colors and patterns are the same. The one thing that will take you from day to night without question is a touch of sparkle. This sequenced top by INC for Macy’s pairs well with black cigarette pants and heels or boots. The flowing cut of the top allows you to act more naturally than you would squeezed into a curve hugging bugger and telegraphs the “I’m laid back, but on my game” vibe. How flattering is that?!?!

The scarf. Technically an accessory, but when you’re talking chunky circular scarves, I think you may as well be talking teeshirts. These versatile scarves can be worn wrapped around the neck -once or multiple times, pulled over your head as if a hood, or down over your shoulders as if a shawl. Actually, much more useful than a teeshirt! I made the scarf, right, from a swatch of fabric I fell for at JoAnn’s last summer (yes, August 2010. Didn’t I tell you I was a trendsetter?! The best part about this fabric was that it was on clearance! Oh, how I love pulling the wool over retailers’ eyes and snatching up the things they think are passe but in reality are just not yet hot!). The circle scarf has been big for a few seasons now, in solid cable knits and wispy cotton, mostly. This season, soft suede-like fabrics and bold prints refresh the closet staple.


So you’re dressed and accessorized from (feathered) head to (cowboy booted) toe. Don’t leave the house just yet! Polish off the look with nail polish. Depending on your overall look du jour, a ever-so-slightly pink opal, like this one from Clarins, might fit the bill. If you guessed that gold and gilded bronze are other on point colors for your tips this season, you’d be right on. Try the Complete Salon Manicure collection from Sally Hansen. And don’t discount an earthy green, like this one from Revlon. The muted color best compliments tanned, olive skin and works fabulously with turquoise!

As the sun sets two minutes earlier every day, it can be all too easy to wish away fall and long for summer. While I love summer, autumn is honestly my favorite season. It means I can wear all things outlined above (boots! sweaters! scarves!), drink apple cider and go pumpkin picking without looking ridiculous. Finally, I can take a hot shower without feeling sweatier than I did before the shower. Cooler temperatures also signal that it is time to indulge in my favorite scents of the season, activated by water. Philosophy’s line of 3-in-1 body wash, bubble bath and shampoos feature delicious bakery fresh goodies like apple pie, sugary cinnamon icing and pumpkin spice muffins. While the sweet smelling suds will invade your bathroom like no other product I’ve ever tried, once out of the shower you’re guaranteed not to smell like you just stepped out of the oven with the gingerbread man (incidentally, another wonderful Philosophy scent that smells like fresh ginger!)

Home Sweet Home Goods:

We all know that when we look good, we feel good. Feel good about your abode by bringing a few touches of fall’s natural beauty indoors, so you don’t feel as cooped up even on the rainiest and chilliest of days.

An oversized, funky but organically shaped vase made of wood or with a simulated wood finish, like this one from Value City Furniture, makes a bold statement wherever you find a place for it. The neutral look of the vase makes it perfect for display year round; its the addition of reeds and autumnal flowers that tune the arrangement to the right season. Because I have something of a brown thumb when it comes to gardening, I prefer faux greenery that looks lively around the clock, day in and day out. I arranged this collection of red, purple and green plants with feathers, because, well, it’s the essence of this season! But you already knew that!!!

Furniture is expensive and unnecessary to change from season to season. Swapping throw pillows and blankets will do wonders for your couch (see my tutorials on imake!) and so will revolving your console and table decor. This ceramic tree sculpture (imade!) blends effortlessly with an existing table top lamp and ottoman, setting the mood for fall without screaming “it’s time to start thinking about a Halloween costume”. Hmmm, maybe I should start thinking about that 😉

2 thoughts on “fall 2011 look book

  1. Pingback: fashion night in | ali.the.architect

  2. Pingback: squishy! silky! practical?! | ali.the.architect

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