Refresher Course

Photo from tumblr,  here.

Fall has always been my favorite season. More than any other time of the year, Fall has always felt like a time of new beginnings, clean slates and fresh starts. Perhaps it’s a holdover from years of back-to-school excitement, with new clothes, new school supplies, new classmates, a new lunchbox.

No, this isn’t mine, but I did have a similar one.

Each year I look forward to the September issues of the fashion magazines and catalogs for stylistic inspiration, and to browsing through the early autumn collections with an eye toward updating/refreshing my wardrobe. This season (early Fall) has historically been my best time of year to shop, as the styles of clothing tend to be more work friendly, the fabric weights work for 3/4 of the year in our climate, and the colors of autumn tend to suit me the best of any season. I love warm browns, russets, greens, ochres, oranges, purples… the colors of a deciduous forest in late October.

It’s been a few years, though, since I’ve needed to replace or revamp large swaths of my wardrobe, thanks to building a more timeless capsule of season-spanning neutrals, and trying to spend more wisely by purchasing fewer pieces of better quality that don’t require replacement as often. Other than the long-sought-after grey ankle boots, and a long grey Eileen Fisher linen cardigan, I’ve mostly been keeping my powder dry, still searching for those few special pieces to add some color and verve to the mix.

Part of me still misses that sense of renewal, that brand-new-box-of-Crayolas feeling that a slew of new Fall clothes used to provide, and I’ve been exploring some cost-conscious avenues to re-energize myself for autumn, when work and life in general seem to pick up the pace. Many of us are trying to be more careful with spending, so I thought I’d share some of my tactics:

Reorganizing the closet. Put pants/skirts on the top rack, jackets/tops on the bottom. Or arrange everything by color, regardless of clothing type. Not only will a refreshed view of your wardrobe break the late summer doldrums, but you might see some possibilities and combinations you hadn’t considered before.

A new fragrance, or mix of fragrances. Try something completely new, or if you’ve been wearing a favorite lighter floral fragrance for summer, try layering with something more spicy/herbal to add more depth for fall.

New makeup. Sign up for a complimentary session with a visiting makeup artist for a makeup line or brand you haven’t tried before. (Check your local department store websites for schedules.) Remember that you’re under NO obligation to buy everything they use, but tell them at the start what looks/colors you’re more likely to wear; you’ll both get more out of it.

New recipes. I’ve been in a TOTAL food rut lately, and plan to thumb through some favorite cookbooks this weekend and flag some new dishes to try.

Revise your routines. Move your workout from morning to evening or visa-versa. Read a book with your morning coffee and read/answer your email in the evening. Go to bed earlier, and get up earlier.

Pack a lunch. And who says we’re too old for a new lunchbox anyway?  Inspired by Aunt Snow’s post a few weeks ago about Bento Boxes, I’ve been keeping an eye out for just the right one to inspire me to make and bring my own lunch more often.

This one has a picture of Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat often seen in sushi bars, who welcomes fortune and good luck.

From Laptop Lunches, this purple bento box includes utensils and a book of shopping tips and lunch ideas.

This one looks pretty Deluxe, even has a handled carrying case!

What season most inspires you?  Do you have any strategies to revamp/refresh your outlook for fall? Any great fall fashion finds to share? Favorite lunchboxes?

All original content property of

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License.

Stay in touch

Sign up to be notified of new posts and updates from une femme d’un certain âge.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for See my complete disclosure policy here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Autumn!

    The garden chimenea comes out, on the first of October we put out our sweaters, cords and scarves, I change over my daily clothes rail and our menu changes too, I really love these little rituals.

  2. Autumn!

    The garden chimenea comes out, on the first of October we put out our sweaters, cords and scarves, I change over my daily clothes rail and our menu changes too, I really love these little rituals.

  3. I, too, am having the renewal feeling of impending Fall. For me this year, it seems to be manifesting itself in another wave of de-cluttering and re-organizing. I like your frugal suggestions, especially the new fragrance/new makeup ideas.

  4. I don’t really get seasons here in Oz but I do like the colder weather moments because my focus turns inwards and I can re-jigger the house and make it as cosy as possible- always soothing during life’s challenging times! Love your strategies, esp the wardrobe clean out! x

  5. Like
    Faux Fuchsia, we don’t get a lot of seasonal variation in Florida. But I still enjoy changing things up, and I love your closet ideas. And a new fragrance sounds grand right about now. I *never* cook, so recipes are like unknown languages to me : > I do love the lunch box though.

  6. Because September is really like a summer month in LA, I just continue to wear Summer light weight skirts and dresses but in Fall colors.
    But I look forward to late October and November when I can pull out the Fall wardrobe.
    I am just getting my September issues now and I love to read them…even just looking at the ads is fun.

  7. My life always changes drastically in September. While we’re back on campus for pro-d stuff, meetings, etc. from mid-August onward, once classes start the day after Labour Day, I’m suddenly on a schedule that imposes an intensity I’d forgotten over the summer. Did a little retail therapy the other day to help compensate, ahead of time. And we’re starting to talk (Paul, semi-retired, and I) about how to adjust together — new meal schedules and all, after enjoying a relaxed 7 or 8 months together during my Research Leave. Hmmmm, do you think I need a new lunchbox?

  8. Like mater my relaxed pace comes to a full stop after Labor Day!
    I do like fall and I think it’s about the new colours of the leaves as they take on a new vibrancy which accompanies the bracing winds and shorter days.

    My back to school childhood days are tinged with memories of new erasers, pencils, and crayolas, crisp exercise books and Elmer’s Glue…which for some reason had the most delicious scent. One of the boys in my grade 1 class used to eat it and the teacher had to keep his until it was time to actually glue things!

  9. As a child growing up in Southern California, I would pore over the Fall Sears catalogue. All those pictures of beautiful fall dresses, sweaters, skirts, displayed in a fall landscape of orange leaves and turning trees! I longed for that kind of a fall and for those kinds of clothes. I still feel that longing and excitement every fall over the new clothes. Sometimes I wonder whether my choice of profession (lawyer) is due in part to the clothes I get to wear!

  10. Fall is my favorite time for wardrobe-shopping too. I like the rich fabrics and deep colors of fall fashion.

    Although we’re still in 100-degree heat here where I live, I’ve already made my first fall purchase for the year: a new trench coat. I found it online had them get it out of the stock room at Macy’s. I felt kind of silly trying it on there amongst the racks of summer beachwear, but hey, I knew what I wanted and I was ready to buy it! 🙂 It’s just a basic London Fog trench, but I’m excited about wearing it.

  11. The make-up idea is a very good one. Even a new season lipstick can do the trick. Also a hairstyle re-vamp is as good as a mini make-over. I normally wear mine just a little longer for Autumn and am thinking of wearing my fringe a different way.

  12. Fall? I miss Fall. I grew up in Michigan, where fall comes in September and is colored by the beautiful orange, yellow and red of the trees. It always seemed a short season, since “sweater weather” might come to an abrupt end in November, and we often had to wear coats over our Halloween costumes.

    I never appreciated a Michigan fall until I’d lived in Texas for a few years. Today will be our 17th consecutive day of 100+ temperatures. I never bought my kids back-to-school clothes, because they wear t-shirts and shorts to school until November. It will be at least the end of October until the temps will be out of the 90s every day. Sweater weather? MAYBE by Christmas. I still read the fall fashion mags, but I find them a little depressing. I’ve lost weight recently, and tried on a pair of practically-new corduroy pants I bought a few years ago (which were too snug when I bought them, but I was going to lose weight! Eventually!) They fit now, but by the time it’s cold enough to wear them, I will have probably lost another ten pounds and they will be too big.


    I need to start thinking seriously about my retirement cottage on Lake Michigan.

  13. This reads like a post for getting oneself out of the doldrums, or a rut. I especially like the idea of changing up our routines. I have become very routined lately and it is boring!

    I adore fall – it’s always been my favorite season. I am very excited for its approach. My strategy for my fall wardrobe is to carefully – very carefully – purchase a few key pieces that are higher end than I usually buy. Less “stuff”, better quality this season.

    My 16 year old stepdaughter packs her lunch for school each weekday and would LOVE to have a Bento box. I will check out your links and perhaps surprise her with one.

  14. I’ve been on the road most of the summer, living out of one bag. I can’t believe how much stuff I have at home. It’s so nice!

    What kind of food do you like–I’m a big cookbook reader?

  15. Yes, school has started and now we’re up at 6am for the next 17 weeks! Definitely time to go to bed earlier :-).

  16. As someone who spent waaay too long in university, September always feels like the start of the New Year, more than January 1 ever did.
    This year, I am signing up for a few sessions with a personal trainer. The weight machines at the gym are hi tech versions of what I used in the 80s!
    And I’m also checking out leather jackets…
    September & October are my favourite months of the year…

  17. Tabitha – yes, those rituals that mark the seasonal shift are so satisfying, aren’t they?

    Carol – I’m feeling ready for another round of de-cluttering myself!

    Faux Fuchsia – are you more tropical then? I’ve noticed you do wear sweaters and such during your winter season.

    Ms. M – oh a trench coat, fabulous! You’re smart to snap it up now; the good ones tend to go fast.

    Chicatanyage – yes, switching up the makeup and hair color/style a bit can be a great mood lifter.

    Patti – I’ll confess, I rarely cook much anymore either. But I’d like to, at least a couple of times per week just so we have some healthy food around.

  18. Adrienne – that it is! I always feel just a little bit like I’m spinning my wheels this time of year. Regarding buying better quality, one of the reasons I haven’t been too excited about what I’ve seen so far is that I’m getting rather persnickety in my old age, and just can’t get excited about dishraggy fabrics and poorly sewn buttons, no matter how cute the style. I hope your step-daughter enjoys the Bento box!

    Belle – it’s true, we’re still just on the cusp of our summer here. I know I’ll still get some wear from my linen pieces in the next few weeks.

    materfamilias – a new lunchbox is rarely a bad idea.
    😉 And it must require some mental gearing up to get ready for teaching again. Very much looking forward to hearing about the retail therapy results!

    hostess – that’s funny, I remember kids who ate the paste, but not glue. Right now I’m welcoming getting back to routines and picking up the pace a bit. We won’t get our cooler weather until probably late Oct/early Nov, and by then we’ll be GOOD and ready for it!

    Anonymous – I applaud your strategy!

  19. Effie May – oh, I know what you mean. Even in Northern CA we didn’t really get much fall until November. I wonder how many of us moved toward one profession or another partly due to the dress code?

    Susan Tiner – oh boy! Is Martin teaching?

    metscan – you do seem to manage your temptations very well though, and are very discriminating and disciplined with your purchases. I don’t know if I could take the long and cold winters you have.

    Jill Ann – nothing against Texas or Texans, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take that kind of relentless heat. We’ll definitely have some real heat here between now and November, but intermittently. I hope you’ll get to wear those pants!

  20. The start of every new season is a new beginning and a farewell. And we have 4 very different seasons.
    Were it possible, I´d shorten the winter season, way too long and cold over here.
    The change of the seasons give me an excuse to check the shops and yes, there always is something out there, tempting.

  21. SheWhoAccessorizesWell – as I said on your blog, I’d have a VERY hard time with the kind of heat you’ve experienced this summer. I hope you are able to enjoy some crisp fall weather soon.

    Pam – FOOTBALL! I love football too. Mmmm, soups and butternut squash! Oh, that’s such a shame about your Beatles paraphernalia. I’m very excited to see your new autumn pieces!

    frugalscholar – I like everything but le monsieur is a picky eater. Mostly, it has to be easy and quick.

    emma – personal trainers and shopping for leather jackets both sound like great ideas!

  22. I am anxious for fall to come this year. Winter, not so much. I loved getting new clothes and shoes for the school year when I was young and I think that is why fall is so anticipated.

  23. Here here!! Autumn is my favorite season hands down…I love the colors..the…everything!! I am looking forward to making soups again and butternut squash and pumpkin bread!! Side note: I had the most fabulous collection of Beatles paraphanalia…and my parents threw it out after I went to college…I still hold a grudge and cannot think about it!! I have purchased several pieces new this Autumn and they will appear on my blog…I can’t wait!!

  24. Oh, how I adore fall. I am more of a spring person, color-wise, but the whole shift into autumn thrills me to no end. The only items I purchased for fall are a navy wool skirt and aqua cashmere sweater from Anne Cramer, and finally splurged ( dang you, Duchesse!!) on a jade bracelet and gold charm bracelet that I have aNted for 25 years. Oh, and a pair of zebra shoes from Kate Spade. I am done, following the purge/less is more/better quality/ buy only what you adore strategy.

  25. We’re moving into spring now (she says with hope and conviction), and I definitely feel the need for refreshment across all sorts of areas – lighter food, cooler clothing, seedlings in the garden … Thanks to the joys of shopping on the net, I’ve picked up a couple of summer garments that I can’t WAIT to be able to wear. Come mid-summer, I’ll be dying for autumn again.

  26. How I love your blog…please consider posting about fragrance. I always notice a wonderful fragrance on others – and have thought that I would like to have a signature fragrance. It would be interesting to know what your favorites are.

  27. I think all our minds are on fall at the mo – exactly my post of the day – i find the change of season really exciting fashion wise, and always look forward to the run up to xmas – i know i should not mention it in August – so yes Sept on is a fave time of year for me too x

  28. Tiffany – glad to hear you found some pieces that you’re excited about!

    fashion and frank – not quite ready to start thinking about the holidays, but am looking forward to September/October.

    Style Crone – “comfort layers,” that’s a great way to put it!

    sdevoted – thank you! I’m no expert on fragrance; I just know what I like and what works for me, but I promise I’ll do something soon.

  29. I remember the thrill of back to school days and the new school clothes waiting to be worn.

    I enjoy looking at the new fall fashions, particularly with an eye to colors. Easy to update a standard outfit with a bit of the latest popular color.