What’s Hot for Fall

Kristin’s Column

by Kristin Armstrong
Illustration by Chris Nickels
kristin column tribeza austin fashion fall nickels

Someone needs to let the fashion industry know about fall in Texas.

The rest of the world might be ready to shift into long sleeves, warm wool fabrics, jackets, and boots, but we are just hitting the apex of the summer inferno. We park in the mall parking lot and walk across the scalding-hot pavement. Our faces are glistening with sweat before we get to the front door of Nordstrom. AC blasts us as we enter, rendering us frozen. We see the mannequins dressed in the newest fall fashion and sigh wistfully as we look down at our shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops. This is the uniform of Austin, from March until early November.

Someone needs to let the fashion industry know about fall in Texas.

I love putting on summer dresses, jean shorts, sandals, and sleeveless tops at the first hint of spring. But by late August, early September, I am so over it. I give up. I stop drying my hair with a round brush because it’s too damn hot in my bathroom, so I have a frizzy, unkempt look. Or else I just pull it back into a messy version of a hybrid ponytail-bun. Sunscreen makes my face look perpetually shiny. Makeup feels goopy, so I fly my freckle flag and go au naturel. Some days my deodorant works better than others. I rotate the same shorts and tank tops. Or I just stay in my workout clothes, because I may as well. That way, at least if I look (and smell) sporty, I have the excuse that I worked out at some point in the day. I choose white or black as my go-to colors, because they look less soggy. I avoid silk and linen at all costs. I am literally stuck, perhaps melted, in a fashion rut.

I am not sure how men do it, the men who have to dress for work. If I had to put on slacks, a button-down, tie, sport coat, socks, and loafers, I would never leave my air-conditioned office. In my own corporate days, back when women had to wear stockings (!!), I would literally rip them off in my car and drive home barefoot. There was a pile of wadded-up stockings and at least two pairs of high heels on the floorboard of my Jeep’s passenger side at all times. I remember standing in the office restroom, crouched beneath the hand dryer to dry the sweaty back of my Ann Taylor linen blazer after afternoon meetings that required getting in and out of a steaming-hot car. We used to have after-work happy hours on the deck at Hula Hut, guzzling swirls in the blazing 5 o’clock sun. I am not sure how I didn’t faint.

Football games are supposed to be fall fashion forward. How can you dress cute when sweat is soaking through your clothes and making your hair look as though you just went swimming? Or how about when you stand up to cheer and you wonder if your wet shorts make you appear incontinent to the fans behind you? I marvel at the UT fans wearing jeans and cowboy boots, not sure how they don’t turn into a puddle standing in the sunny section. This fall I will be attending my son’s college football games at Rice University, in the one town that is typically hotter and more humid than Austin — Houston. I want to be the cute, proud football mom, but I might have to settle for just proud.

It seems our only choices to keep our cool and still look cool are to travel to real fall climates, or have patience and wait for November.

Read More From the Style Issue | September 2018

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