Smells like grunge spirit

Sacramento fashion gets a ’90s-inspired makeover—with a touch of Mad Men flair

Fly, be free little bird in this Aryn K silky cut-out blouse.

Fly, be free little bird in this Aryn K silky cut-out blouse.

Photo By Trumbo+Flynn

Styling is by Amber Mortensen, who blogs at, and model Beck Trumbo ( from Cast Images.
Special thanks to Cuffs Apparel and Sugar Shack (additional items from

With its abundance of trees, you could say that autumn falls hardest in Sacramento. Only Paris (46 times the area of Sacramento) comes close in the number of trees per capita.

So while we’re in direct competition with a world-fashion capital, it’s time to do this town proud, and pull out all the style stops in your fall wardrobe. Let the City of Trees give the City of Lights a respectable run for its money—especially now that the weather is finally turning crisp and cool. This season trends are hovering somewhere between squeaky-clean ’60s femininity and ’90s grunge elements … kind of like if Kurt Cobain and Diane Keaton went back in time to birth Twiggy.

All bets are off.

Silk stalkings

Blouses, dresses, pants and scarves—you’ll need this liquidlike textile in your work wear rotation. “But silk is so expensive and hard to care for!” you might declare, and my formerly unconverted self would have agreed with you. However, this breathable, durable, natural fiber can be more investment than splurge and it needs less cleaning in cooler temperatures. You can find a great selection of vintage silk at Thunderhorse Vintage (2522 J Street) or Freestyle Clothing Exchange (2101 L Street or 6412 Tupelo Drive in Citrus Heights) for less than $20. Or snap up one of those early ’90s silk button-downs from your local thrift store.

The short and the slouchy

This one takes a few steps. Grab a slouchy, slubby, cropped sweater and constantly wear it around the house until it’s Cobain-esque (approximately six to eight weeks). Hand wash it, then pair it with tailored shorts, skinny jeans or a high-waisted skirt. Put on your boots and go outside.

Or just head straight to Heart Boutique where it has a pre-threadbare version ($40, 1903 Capitol Avenue) ready and waiting for your grimy little hands.

Transparency issues

Yeah, yeah, everyone knows that dressing in practical layers is a necessary part of transitional seasons. But what’s wrong with layering for the sake of layering? Though the blouse/capelet hybrid, sold at Sugar Shack ($39, 2425 J Street) seems to just flutter wistfully in the breeze, the extra layer can justify shooing the mothballs away from your summer tanks for Sacramento’s notoriously warm autumns. Other layering pieces run the gamut from maxi skirts to chiffon blouses.

Cut it out

Unexpected flashes of skin can also be your best accessories. Shoulder cut-outs (such as the Aztec print mini dress we spotted at Heart Boutique for $42) are plentiful, but if you don’t respond well to the cold shoulder, then the silky teal blouse with cage cuffs and a keyhole neckline (by Aryn K, available at Cuffs for $86) has your back. Or opt for a black crop top with filigree lace at the shoulders (by Angie, available at Sugar Shack for $26).

Jean-ius solutions

Jeans seem like an obvious suggestion, but when we say denim is essential, we mean in every way, shape or form. Get yourself a pair of colored jeans (army-green skinnies by Obey available at Sugar Shack, $88), a cropped jean jacket (try Freestyle Clothing Exchange or Bows & Arrows) or even a pair of denim wedges.

Rock out with your color-block frock out.

Photo By Trumbo+Flynn

Step up with a statement

Being covered up by the same trench all season makes it all the more necessary to make a statement with your feet. Be it chunky wedge booties, Technicolor platforms, studded oxfords, 5-inch stiletto boots or striped booties (Cuffs, $82), your feet haven’t known bold till now.

Something wild

Forget tiger stripes and leopard prints, more exotic animal prints are coming out from hiding. From ocelot to giraffe prints (shorts available at Cuffs, $34) if you see something wild, pounce on it.

For the color-blocked frock of it

Color-blocking is not an easy trend to master. So let a designer do it for you. This silky apricot-vanilla confection (pictured left, by Esley, $54 at Sugar Shack) is perfect for layering and can be worn throughout the spring and summer, too.

You com-pleat me

Be it a pin-tucked blouse, high-waisted trousers or a pair of silk shorts, it’s time to get your iron out for the love of pleats. A vintage pintucked canary blouse (soon to be available at and pleated navy shorts (H&M, Roseville) get unpredictable down to a pair of shocking ankle socks. Men can venture into pleat-front pants a little more subtle than the Z. Cavaricci doozies we grew used to in the ’90s, but women should be all over them.

Please Hammer, don’t hurt ’em

Ah, the late ’90s—the good ol’ days when you could get away with wearing daisy prints and pajama pants in public. If I were you, I’d skip those flashback trends and, instead, attempt these audacious Aztec print palazzo pants (by Hot & Delicious, available at Sugar Shack for $36).

Chained heat

Now that the oversized pendant craze has finally simmered down, what’s left? Chains. Messy, mismatched tangles of them, the chunkier the better. I found a great set of heavy chains at a local thrift store for $4.

March of the penguin jackets

Menswear influence is everywhere this year, especially in outerwear, the most ubiquitous being the tuxedo jacket. We really liked a wool cutaway version found at Cuffs ($108). It’s both warm and compact enough to fit in your overnight bag, but also has girly features, like a black lace collar and a cinched waist. Heart Boutique also carries a white ’60s version for you to crave.

A satchel hangover

Bags of late have also been swinging toward masculine, especially the classic satchel. Satchels are perfect for both sexes, especially when you find yourself lugging a Radio Shack’s worth of electronic devices and their accessories around on your bike. A canvas and mock croc version (Cuffs, $50) has an adjustable strap and enough pockets to keep your iPhone from losing a fight with an errant pair of tweezers.

Manly man stuff

It appears that this season you must find the necessary means to get in touch with your manly side. For that, we suggest you raid vintage stores such as Cheap Thrills (1712 L Street) and Thunderhorse Vintage for fancy masculine accessories, such as wide-brimmed wool fedoras and wingtip oxfords that will contrast smartly with a silky frock. Men should embrace classic suiting accessories every day—try a linen tie or patterned suspenders with jeans and a fitted parka.