Tips for Making Your Wardrobe Work Year Round

10 Oct

I was reading one of my favorite style blogs the other day, and there was a comment along the lines of “I’m so sad that I have to put away this nautical top until next summer.”

I’m sorry, what?  In what world is being nautical regulated only to warm temperatures? Okay.  I’m probably making a bigger deal out of this than I need to, but I don’t transition my closet.  Ever.  I try to only buy dresses and tops that can be worn year-round.

Here are some of my tips for transitioning your favorite pieces from summer to fall:

The consequence of my inability to resist a good sundress means that my closet is filled with navy, white, and red knee length dresses.  I know those aren’t traditional winter colors, but I just can’t get into those browns or oranges or tans.  My solution?  I have a few really great jackets that, surprise surprise, are navy or red.  (White jackets are just weird to me.  Sorry.)  I love the J.Crew Schoolboy Blazer if you want to go the traditional route.  They’re on sale right now too, which is a bonus!  (Actually, get ready for a lot of J.Crew in this post.  Maybe I’m biased since I worked for them, but they really do make great work wear if you don’t have a big budget.  Just never buy things full price and don’t buy their thin knit sweaters.  They have a ton of sales, and those sweaters get holes fast.)

 If you want to go the more funky route, get something in a fun print.  This Shrunken Pop Art Blazer is on sale for like $50.  Either one works on top of this Allie Dress – on sale for $91.  (Another great investment piece–the Allie dress is made out of a silk wool blend which makes it perfect for transitioning.  Plus it comes in red and navy!)

Most blogs would tell you to invest in a great black blazer (or other neutral color), and yes, that is great advice.  But, if your own personal neutral colors just happen to be nautical, then a red blazer will get a lot more use than a black one.  Trust me.

Tips for picking your own jacket (or cardigan, or winter coat, etc)

Find the color that dominates your closet, and get something that compliments. For me, it’s navy and red, so I will get a lot of mileage out of those jackets.

Don’t cheap out.  I used to do this in high school–I’d rather get four shirts for my $50 because there was nothing worse than repeating outfits, amiright?  But, now that we are older and more mature, we don’t care about such trivial things.  (Haha.  Riiiiight.)  Sure, you could go to Target or something and get a few coats for the cost of one Schoolboy Blazer, but there’s something to be said for quality.  I wear some of my coats several times a week, and they hold up extremely well.  That’s the great thing about classics–they don’t go out of style, and they’re made to be worn all the time.

This was one of my favorite dresses of the summer–what’s not to love?  Stripes.  Anchors.  But, it’s not really winter appropriate….or is it?

Layering can be tricky–Sarah Vickers from Classy Girls Wears Pearls should write the manual on it.  (Also, beware of clicking that link.  You may start to feel depressed that your life doesn’t look like a Brooks Brothers photo shoot.)

A belted cardigan is my go-to for making my summer dresses work appropriate.  I really love the options from Tommy Hilfiger, and if you visit their outlet, you can normally get them at a better price.  I love the preppy/nautical options here, here, here, and here.  I also have this cardigan from Nordstrom’s BP department, and I wear it several times a week.  It’s a great price (so you can stock up on other colors), and it’s really soft and holds it’s shape well.

That’s pretty basic layering, but step two is to layer a button down shirt over (or even under!) your dress, and then top it with your cardigan.  Again, I really love Tommy Hilfiger for their reasonably priced button down options.  J.Crew also has some nice oxfords, but only drop money on the sale versions.  I recently got a denim  shirt from Nordstrom, and I wear it more than I thought I would.  This is a nice option (on sale!) from J.Crew, or here’s the actual shirt I have from Nordstrom.

3.  Tights are your best friend

So, we have our torsos taken care of, but our legs are still going to be freezing.  The solution:  opaque tights.  Tights are a solution not just to the temperature situation, but also to making your summer dress look a little less…summery.  Tights can be tricky though if you’re into nautical colors–red is a little too costumey, and navy can work but still feels weird to me.  My solution?  Gray.  A thick gray option goes with navy, red, or even white  Also this is something you don’t want to cheap out on–I have a pair of J.Crew tights that are four years old and still going strong.

I also, sadly, have a lot of Little Black Dresses that I wear year round that are leftover from a super corporate job.  A fun way to make them a little less sad is to go the colored option.  (A deep wine color is really pretty without being over the top.  I also will sometimes go with patterns, as long as they don’t look skanky.  Think more argyle or pinstripes and not fishnet.)

I also will even layer some knit knee socks over my tights for extra warmth.  I like these ones from GoldToe because they are super warm and not so thick that I can’t wear them under my boots.  (Plus they are on sale!)

Here are two brands that work for me.

Hue:  I usually find them at Nordstrom, but Nordstrom Rack also has a lot of options.  I like the Silky Ribbed Sweater tights (that burgundy is GORGEOUS), and also their leggings.  (That’s another thing–if you have a hard time finding good tights that don’t run when they rub against your tall boots, switch to leggings.  If you’re going to cover up the bottom with a shoe anyway, then leggings are warmer!)

Spanx:  SO WORTH THE INVESTMENT.  I feel like because they are shapewear, they never run.  These are great for opaque, and if you like patterned, do these.

Also, I mentioned J.Crew–they have good sweater tights, but all the cute sheer versions I had ran.  Sigh.

Finally, if you are tall and have a hard time finding tights that aren’t too short (and then the crotch falls down and you have to keep hiking them up), consider doing thigh highs.  They’re not skanky if no one sees the top, right?

4.  Boots Boots Boots

The last thing that will help your summer wardrobe go fall is a great pair of knee high boots.  If you’re nautically minded, go for brown or camel, otherwise opt for basic black.  I always pimp Nordstrom, but they have an amazing shoe department and a great range of prices.  (Also, the best customer service.  I had a pair of knee high boots I wore through last winter, and was bummed at how stretched out the elastic in the back got.  It was to the point where they kept falling down when I wore them.  This past summer, I told my SA that I wanted to look for a new pair and told her what happened, and she told me to bring them in and they would credit my account and help me find something more awesome.  SERIOUSLY.  THAT IS CUSTOMER SERVICE PEOPLE.)

Finally, I am going to leave you with some of my fall inspirational outfits.  These girls got it right!

[awww…. vintage Blair from AP.  She was still styling back in 2010!  Real talk:  I love reading back through her archives and seeing her style journey.  Geez.  I’m cheesy.)

sources 1/2/3/4


2 Responses to “Tips for Making Your Wardrobe Work Year Round”

  1. franishh October 10, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    that red blazer…needs to be mine. give it to me.

  2. franishh October 10, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    also, fine and feathered: a new fav. Thank you 🙂

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