As the blistering hot days begin to disappear replaced by cooler ones, it can be tricky figuring out the best way to dress for the season transition. Something about autumn just begs for sartorial creativity and reinvention. Maybe it is the lingering memory of getting a new wardrobe for school (who else roasted through the first day because you insisted on wearing that new outfit, despite the fact that it was meant for cold weather?) Or perhaps it is because as summer drags on we find ourselves caring less about how we look and more about what lets us feel cool, so we end up needing a bit of a fashion refresh when the weather starts to ease into more comfortable territory. Whatever the reason, here are a few tried-and-true tips for keeping yourself comfortable in mercurial weather situations while adding a bit of flair to your fall style.

It’s All About Layers

The tricky part about dressing for early fall is accommodating the cool mornings and evenings without sweltering during the warm afternoons. By mastering the art of layers, you can wear most of the outfits you rocked all summer with just a few seasonal adjustments.

Woman with short, gray hair wears an earth-tone cardigan over a yellow dress, standing in front of giant agave plantsCardigans are your new best friend once September rolls around. They are the perfect item to grab when you need something light to throw on over an outfit, and they can conveniently be worn over the shoulders or tied at your waist when you don’t need them. Cardigans are also a great way to make a summery outfit look a little more dressed-up; they work so well over sundresses, with a short sleeve tee and shorts, or even with jeans and a light blouse. Blazers will do the same job and will add a bit of structure to an otherwise casual ensemble. Tunics are also remarkably versatile this time of year, and lend themselves really well to layering (check out this article for more detail on how tunics are the best.) Vests are also fantastic layering items, and range from dressy (silk!) to outdoorsy and rugged. 

One item that is surprisingly easy to transition from summer to fall is a sleeveless dress. You can add a cardigan when the weather is still warm, obviously, but you can also winterize them by wearing them over a turtleneck and some opaque tights. Switch out the sandals for some booties and you’re ready for anything!

Stock Your Closet Wisely

All this layering and adjusting of summer outfits will require you to have a pretty “flexible” wardrobe. One way to make things easier is to have a couple go-to items that will match most of the things you already own. 

Woman in denim jacket and thick scarfOne word: Denim. Jeans lend themselves to all kinds of choices regarding tops and footwear, so they’re the ultimate flexible fall fashion item. Many style websites are pushing white jeans for fall this year, and while it goes against everything we were told (NO WHITE AFTER LABOR DAY, YOU HEATHENS!), it might be worth a try for these weeks when it still feels like summer. While we’re at it, let us sing in praise of denim jackets. You really can’t go wrong with these classics — although we try to draw the line at the Canadian Tuxedo. They are comfortable, come in a bazillion colors, and are light enough to wear as a coat or as one of several layers.  

When it comes to other layers such as sweaters, cardigans, and long sleeve shirts, try to have a few of each in neutral colors. This will make it easier to assemble an outfit and will let you develop more of a capsule wardrobe. If you’re worried about too many blah colors, use accessories to add a little punch! Scarves, for example, are versatile, easy to style, and way cheaper than owning a cardigan in every color of the rainbow. 

Seasonal Staples

trench coatIn addition to the tips we’ve already mentioned, here are a few items in style this year that just scream fall time fashion. Wide-leg trousers are back with a vengeance, and if you get them in breathable fabrics you can wear them in almost any weather. They pair well with sweater sets (layers!), jackets, and cropped cardigans. (Don’t panic: in this case “cropped” doesn’t require exposed midriff, it just means that the bottom falls at the waist instead of below it.)

Many stylists also swear by trench coats this time of year. They add a European flair to just about any outfit and are perfect for when the weather is unpredictable.

Finally, the easiest way to make a summer ensemble look ready for fall is to switch out your sandals for a pair of boots. Ankle “booties” are all the rage and can be worn with shorts, mini-skirts and opaque tights, maxi dresses, jeans… just about anything you can imagine. They’ll keep your toes warm and dry, and you won’t have to worry as much about the state of your pedicure.

Other Articles You Might Enjoy: