Finding workhorses for fall (K/R)

Since fall is my favorite season (for weather, clothing, and shopping), I always end up with a big wishlist. I want things that will truly be workhorses, whether they're statement items or not. The wish list - all black (or black denim) except as noted.

  • skirt (denim, wool, whatever; slightly below knee; could be A-line or pencil).
  • denim shirt
  • versatile cardigans
  • boyfriend jeans
  • lightweight pullover
  • sleeveless wool sweater
  • oversized chinos
  • silk top to wear with a suit (NOT black - ideally white with a print)

A Neiman Marcus Last Call opened in SF on Friday, and I got a few good deals. Zara has been killing it this season, as has Allsaints. Many of these were bought on sale, but it still adds up to more than I usually spend... I don't really need the whole wishlist. Which should I keep?

So, which of these are winners?

  • (1-2) Vince cotton pullover (winner!), Robert Rodriguez wool shorts (would I wear them?)
  • (3) Zara boyfriend jeans, sized up (winner!)
  • (4-6) Allsaints Drina cardigan in cotton
  • (7-9) Madewell Sculptor cardigan, heavy wool rib knit. Would be more of a coat than an indoors layer. I love the shape and structure but is it too weird? Too warm for my climate?
  • (10-12) Zara denim shirt. Unsure about this. A size down looks better but is too tight in the shoulders.
  • (13-14) Two losers? Robert Rodriguez graphic silk top - too bulky and weird. Zara wool wrap overskirt - I had high hopes but it just doesn't work. (I have a cotton tube skirt under it; would get something longer if I keep it.)
  • (15) The silk top with my suit. What I really want is a simple shell in that same silk.
  • (16) Bonus! Zara cape I'm in love with but didn't buy.

I also have a denim skirt on order that might work, and sleeveless wool sweater possibilities galore. This is the problem with fall - I keep finding so many perfect things that my HEWI detector is on overdrive and I make bad decisions.

Edited to add: I like how you're all calling out your statements & essentials!
Statements: shorts, sculptor cardigan, cape (swoon... but I would be too scared to wear it), silk top if it fit
Essentials: jeans, pullover, probably the allsaints cardigan, denim shirt

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Kristin L replied 3 years ago

    First off, I love your hair! I'm nowhere near brave enough to buzz my hair on one side, but it looks great on you. 

    I like 1-6. The shorts look great and I think would work with tights in the fall (depending on where you are, of course). But, if you're not sure you'll wear them, I'd take that as a sign to return them. Almost everything I've kept thinking I may or may not wear doesn't get worn. But the sweater and cardigan look fantastic. And the cape is pretty cool as well. 

    I'm not sure about number 7-9. I still have a hard time judging volume, so please take my opinion with a grain of salt. It almost seems like too much volume, if that makes sense. The denim top looks too big to me as well. Would you be able to get it tailored to fit? Or do you like it enough to do that? If not, I'd send it back and keep looking. You're too fab to settle for something that's just ok. And I agree with you on the silk top.

  • cinnamon fern replied 3 years ago
    • 1-2:  keep the sweater, return the shorts unless you're in love ... I have a hard time seeing what weather and occasion you'd wear them for
    • 3 & 4:  keep
    • 7:  I think this is a bit overwhelming - is there a smaller size?
    • #10:  return, like you say, the fit is off
    • #13:  I actually like the silk top a lot.  The skirt I think doesn't work.

    You are fabulous in that suit!

  • unfrumped replied 3 years ago

    I can't get past the fantastic suit in 15!

  • Caro in Oz replied 3 years ago

    I love the Allsaints knit - it looks great on you. I really like the printed blouse too - but if you would prefer a shell then maybe return it (or wear it & have the sleeves taken out later). The cape is fabulous - why wouldn't you wear it? Your suit is sharp too :) :)

  • replied 3 years ago

    Holy smokes - you have some nice pieces here!  And, can I shyly say I love your hair?  I'm not sure if I knew you had the whole side undercut like that - and I love it on you. I swear if I were 30 years

    Anyways - I love the shorts , but were would you wear them?  To me they work if you work in retail , fashion retail, or in a really creative work environment like interior and graphic design . Not sure what you do for a living :)

    I also love the big Madewell cape on you - even better than the Zara cardi for some reason. Just more dramatic and interesting.  I also love the pants suit - you look great in that blazer.  Jeans are excellent on you too.

  • Angie replied 3 years ago

    It ALL looks fantastic, Greyscale. It's hard to forecast a wardrobe workhorse upfront, don't you think? If I had to hazard a guess, I'd suggest returning the shorts, #13 and #14, and having a good look at your existing black cardigans. Is there too much duplication with the ones you have here? 

    I love the Zara cape. It's a great weight topper for SF. The denim shirt is a wild card - I vote go for it. I like it tucked quite a bit. 

  • shevia replied 3 years ago

    Like others, my favorite thing here is your suit! That is fantastic. I also love the bf jeans, the All Saints cardigan and the cape.

  • DonnaF replied 3 years ago

    Return the denim shirt; you can do better fit-wise.  Earlier this year, I got one at BR and I've seen them at Nordstrom and in a Talbot's catalog.  Your dark denim shirt is out there.

    IMHO, longer shorts would be more versatile, esp. in SF's climate.  I don't know about you, but I'm not super keen about my bare skin on the seats of public transportation.  Longer shorts would take care of that sticking and ewww factor.

    I love the sculptor cardi and cape on you. . . .

  • Missey replied 3 years ago

    I love love love 15!  So much!

  • Greyscale replied 3 years ago

    The suit is the surprise favorite! Well, let's hope I get a chance to wear it this year, if I get any job interviews! Sadly, the pants are almost too small in the waist, but they look fine. I realized I can just get an Everlane silk tank top to wear with the suit. They have white or very pale grey.

    There's not too much cardigan duplication, I think. My go-to wool cardigan is getting ratty and pilled, and my cotton drapey cardigan is faded. Though I should go through my sweater drawer and make sure I'm not forgetting something. Your votes are mixed on the giant wool cardigan, and I still can't decide if it's too warm. I'm starting to think it's never going to get chilly this year. Or rain ever again.

    Other thoughts - yes, the shorts aren't a perfect match for my life. I'm a research scientist, so I don't have to dress particularly professionally but I am in a faculty-like job and I don't want to be taken for a student. I might wear them to work when I don't have meetings or labwork, and definitely around town on weekends. I have casual leather shorts that are about the same length and they've become something I wear quite often even though I never thought I would. But the cut of these wool shorts is a little looser, like running shorts, and I'd feel a little exposed in them. Still, they are tres tres chic and I can imagine them being the extra statement that I'm missing these days.

    Maybe I'll ask for the cape as an early birthday present. It's too much of a wildcard to be in my fall budget. Though you're right, Angie. It's the perfect weight for San Francisco nights.

  • catgirl replied 3 years ago

    I love it all but the shorts seem impractical - if you can wear them then go for it, but I would want to see how they work IRL.  The suit is so fab (that's not new, right?).  Are you a denim shirt kind of person?  I had to give up that pipe dream tor myself....

  • Greyscale replied 3 years ago

    I got the suit three years ago on sale at Club Monaco. I wear the blazer occasionally with jeans - I bought it at the height of the boyfriend blazer trend.

    Speaking of which, I found the most perfect amazing boyfriend blazer at a Weekday store in Berlin, Rodebjer brand not Weekday. But it was the wrong size and the only one in the store. When I googled it later I discovered it was from last winter's collection; not sure how they still had a random one there. So so sad that it's not available.

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Add me to the chorus of suit lovers. SO fab on you!! 

    I also really adore that All Saints cardigan and think it's a definite keeper. Everything else looks pretty fab, too, but I agree with you about the skirt (alas) and suspect the shorts might not get a lot of wear, unless you'd wear them with tights. The Vince sweater is lovely, too, BTW. 

  • Gigi replied 3 years ago

    You've really found some nice pieces here. On the wool shorts, I vote to keep if you think you will wear them. But if you're not sure of the style (you said they feel more like a runner's short), maybe return but keep looking for something similar?

    I really like the Madewell cardi on you—it seems to really reflect your personal style. It doesn't look all that strange until you put your arms out straight at your sides, and we don't stand like that in normal life. :)

    I vote to return the denim shirt because of the fit. Denim shirts aren't that hard to find, and I think you can do better. I also vote to return the Zara wrap skirt because you have to fuss with it to make it work by wearing a tube skirt underneath. At least for me, when I have to compensate for some kind of flaw in a garment, I lose interest in wearing it after a while.

    I think the silk top looks a little too bulky, so I vote to return that also.

    Thanks for sharing your finds with us! You're looking great.

  • Greyscale replied 3 years ago

    Update: I cut the tags off the jeans and the Allsaints cardi and wore them out to dinner. So there's one decision made, at least! And I am very happy with the result.

  • CocoLion replied 3 years ago

    Here are my quick opinions.

    Vince cotton pullover -- yes
    Wool shorts -- no
    Zara bf jeans -- yes
    Allsaints cotton cardigan -- yes
    Madewell wool cardigan -- yes, if you think you would wear it outside.  I get a ton of wear from these types of throw on and go pieces.  But my winters are colder.  Ha maybe it would work for you in the San Francisco summer.
    Zara denim shirt -- no, poor fit (sorry) -- keep looking you'll find the right one
    Zara skirt -- no
    Silk top -- I would reconsider this.  It looks great on you, fits your shoulders and is a nice change from shells.  Plus it works well with your suit.
    Cape -- yes!  but maybe with fitted bottoms

    Hope that adds to your decision making process.

  • Greyscale replied 3 years ago

    Holy cow. I just did a complete wardrobe inventory and I have a lot more clothing than I realized. Especially "winter" (in SF) clothing. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. Plus I tend to accumulate wool sweaters that are too warm for my climate. I better reconsider some things in light of that.

  • Ariadne replied 3 years ago

    Love your keepers, especially the Madewell cardi and Zara jeans.
    Did you get a chance to check out the new Everlane pocket silk shirts?  I'm tempted but I can't find any RL pics or reviews of them yet, and I'm in Canada, so I can't return.

  • Greyscale replied 3 years ago

    I got to try on one of those Everlane shirts, yes (you mean the collarless long sleeve one, yes?). The silk is thick and drapes really well. The cut is loose and casual and I really, really, really like it. I think I'd take an extra small although I'm a small in many of their other shirts. I only got to try on the small (it was too big), though, so I'm not 100% sure.

  • annabelle replied 3 years ago

    I love your choices. At the risk of spending more of your clothing budget, I could see an awesome faux fur vest or, with your coloring, a military green vest or light anorak, going with everything on your list. Layering can help you in a climate where the wool sweaters won't get the wear they used to. Nice!

  • Ariadne replied 3 years ago

    Thanks!  Now I'm even more tempted.

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