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How to Transition Your Summer Staples into Fall

Ellen Zacarias

Short Dress with Leggings

The days of summer dresses, tanks, and shorts are coming to an end—sooner or later, depending on where you live. As autumn approaches, it’d be great to get more use out of these pieces so that they don’t languish in the back of your closet. These ideas can also help you break out of a jeans-shirt-sweater combo rut:

Tights and Leggings Are Your Best Friend

Wear tights or leggings under dresses, shorts, and skirts, and preferably not alone. In some places, it can be FREEZING in the mornings, so some of my colder-climate friends wear two layers of leggings on top of each other. Black leggings and tights are staples, but you can also play around with textures, designs, and other colors if you have the cash and closet space. I personally love dark gray leggings because they go well with both black and brown shoes.

For a slimming and lengthening effect when pairing shorts with leggings, try to match the colors to create a monochromatic effect—the eye just slides down your legs instead of being drawn to cut-off spots that shorten the look of your legs.

Leggings go with flats, boots, sneakers, and occasionally sandals.

Boots Are Also Your Best Friend

Swap out the sandals for boots as temperatures start dropping, lest you grow icicles for toes. I’m a sucker for fall shopping because I love the riding boots that I start seeing everywhere around this season. Boots are a lot warmer than flats, and like with leggings, you can double-layer socks if you need to. There are many lengths for boots, but I would recommend the classic calve-to-knee length boot because it’s a lot more versatile and flattering for many body shapes than the ankle- or thigh-length boots. If you have wide, muscular calves like I do, there are also wide-calve options in department stores.

Black, gray, and brown are the most versatile colors, but there are other colors (depending on your wardrobe and style) that look amazing as well, such as red and yellow boots.

Pay attention to heel size. The first pair of boots I ever purchased had two- to three-inch blocky heels, but I preferred the wide strides that flat heels provide, so eventually I purchased some completely flat-heeled boots for trekking across campus.

Summer dresses go well with boots, along with skirts and skinny jeans.

Black Turtlenecks and Long Sleeves Make Great Buddies for Short-Sleeved Dresses

You can layer a turtleneck or a basic, sheer long-sleeved shirt beneath a summer dress. This combo looks really good with black tights or leggings too. To avoid bulk, choose a turtleneck or long-sleeved shirt that is lightweight and somewhat form-fitting.

Other Layering Ideas

  • Tank top beneath a sweater for extra insulation and also to absorb sweat so that your sweater doesn’t smell too funky if you head into a stuffy-warm classroom or dining hall after being out in the cold.
  • Long sleeves beneath vest.
  • Motorcycle Jacket/Cardigan/Blazer/Light Jacket + Summery Blouse + Shorts + Leggings
  • Sweater + Summer Dress + Tights + Flats
  • Add a scarf over everything.

What You Shouldn’t Layer

Unfortunately, some combinations just look just plain awkward, such as sandals with socks. Sandals look horrible with socks, unless you’re a kid with watermelon socks. Then that’s okay.

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