Reader Sarah wrote in with this plea:
I have a lot of sundresses (spaghetti straps, v-necks, pretty flowers) but very few fall/winter dresses, because until now I’ve gone into hibernation mode–jeans, uggs, sweaters. No more of that for me! But I am a broke college student and cannot afford to revamp my wardrobe all at once. So, my question is: How can I take a sundress and transform it into something appropriate for fall/winter without just looking like a girl trying to wear a sundress in the winter?
In years past, several style “rules” would’ve forbidden a summer dress from remaining in rotation during cold weather. Florals were generally reserved for warm weather, as was white. But now? Those rules have been chucked, and your options are broadened. Summer dresses can be worn in mid-January in looks as varied as they are chic.
In my opinion, though, there are still a few things to avoid when transitioning your summer dresses to fall and winter wear.
What NOT to transition:
- Pastels may trend for cold-weather wear, but styling them can be tough. Use them sparingly.
- Cotton voile, linen, or any other super-summery fabrics may look awkward.
- Careful with those spaghetti straps. The dresses can still get used, of course, but make sure the straps are covered.
Other than those restrictions, it’s a free-for-all. Any dress that has even the slightest chance of working effectively in a layered ensemble is fair game!
How to transition:
- The simplest way to make a summery dress work when it’s nippy but not freezing is simply to throw on a pair of opaque tights and some boots or booties, as I’ve done in the photo above.
- Don’t think of your sweet summer frock as a dress exclusively. Try layering a cowl or v-neck sweater on top and letting the dress function as a skirt. This is especially fun and effective for dresses made from beautifully textured fabrics, or printed with gorgeous patterns.
- A top layer like a blazer or cardigan works wonders. Belt underneath that top layer to define your waist, if you so desire. Add tights and boots and be done!
- Make the sundress the bottom layer of a many-layered outfit. Start with tights and boots, add your sundress, then layer another skirt on top of the dress (preferably a full and/or drapey style), and top it all off with a sweater and/or blazer. The sundress will basically just be a little bit of texture and print/color peeking out from the hem of your outfit.
- With shorter dresses, just treat them as tunics. Layer atop slim jeans or leggings, and boots. Add a cardigan for warmth when you need to.
Personally, I am NOT a fan of putting a turtleneck under a dress. Some ladies love it, but I say avoid!