I wasn’t aware of a term for the wide-eyed, awestruck admiring of October leaves until I was well into my 20s, but it wasn’t for lack of gorgeous fall surroundings. I grew up in the Midwest and speckled my young adulthood with a few years in Maine, so I’m no stranger to rich forest hues; still, I managed to escape the term leaf peeping until relatively recently. Now, I live in New England, newly settled into a 19th-century house on a tiny orchard on a ridge overlooking a blanket of coastal mountains, all smeared in reds, yellows, greens, and oranges. It’s autumn in New England, and I’m reflecting all of it in this dress.
New York’s Leota has created a collection with a hallmark of simple, flattering cuts done up in all sorts of unusual patterns and crisp colors. The Ilana dress is no different, and that’s the piece I unwrapped a few weeks ago—the first package I’ve received at my new home. Cut with a reversible neckline—there’s never a worry of going to work with the dress on backwards—the Ilana allows its wearer a modest, high-neck seam that just covers the collarbones, with a dramatic sweep cut out of the back, or vice-versa: a scoop out of the front of the dress, shoulder blades covered.
I chose to wear the high neck when I went out to survey the yard, stomping through tall grass and reaching for the last of the season’s apples on our handful of fruit trees. The Ilana is sewn unlined, a single layer of polyester with a spandex stretch, so it’s smooth, soft, and highly adaptable to movement—a necessity when it comes to fall activities. It’s not too short for a brisk little breeze, and the ¾ sleeve cut made me feel like I was cheating the chill—if only till the next gust. In that case, the dress fits well under an oversized coat, a trim and body-contouring cut itself.
What I really love, however, about this dress, is the color. The pattern—“French Braid Berry“—is at once bold and nonintrusive; a chevron of bright red and navy blue keep it at an eye-catching, but not overwhelming, tone. Shuffling through a cover of fallen maple leaves, I saw my dress mirrored in the foliage: dark pinks and bright reds against darker, earthier colors. Romping through the yard—and yes, there is an antique caboose tucked in the woods—I felt like part of the landscape, done up in a festive dress with its sash tied in a cheerful bow.