Dressing for back to school is always a little challenging for me. We’re not quite to fall, but my summer wardrobe doesn’t always lend itself to a more academic setting. Late summer to early fall in Colorado subjects residents to a variety of temperatures, which can make for some confusion when deciding the outfit of the day. These are some of the swaps I make in my closet to make outfits a little breezier at the end of the summer.
Item 1: Outer Layers
I am a layering gal through and through. I always love adding a little more depth to an outfit with some sort of layering, and I grieve for my ability to wear a cardigan once the weather heats up. I’ve attempted to convince myself that a light cardigan could be fine in the heat, but I always end up uncomfortably hot and regret it.
My favorite way to keep layering is adding either a gauzy kimono or a jean jacket on top of something. The kimono is great on top of a T-shirt for warmer days, and a jean jacket is a won’t be too hot outside but can still keep you warm if you have a class in a cold building.
Item 2: Tops
The sweater vest has been gaining popularity in the last few years, and late summer/early fall is the perfect occasion to look for one. It’s a versatile piece that you can wear alone on warmer days, or pair with a button-up shirt to dress it up a little bit. It also has the academic style to it that I often look for when school starts up again.
I’m very proud of my collection of tank tops and getting to show them off during the summer, but they don’t always fit the unspoken dress code at work, school and other professional settings. I have a lot to say about the implications and impact of dress codes, but as for styling in accordance with them, I love anything mesh that can add a little coverage without piling on.
I’m a big fan of a long-sleeved mesh shirt underneath a tank top or dress, but even a light cotton tee goes great under anything with thin straps. Try adding something silky and solid colored with a lot of lace over a patterned shirt or band tee — it really highlights how delicate the lace pattern is and dresses up the tee.
Item 3: Bottoms
The mini skirt is a classic and I will never say that it doesn’t fit a season, but for practicality’s sake, walking across campus is easier to do in a midi or maxi skirt. The flowy nature of a longer skirt has more of a fall feeling but is still fun and wearable for warm weather. Be sure to choose a skirt made of a more breathable fabric than something velvet or knitted.
In the academic vein, pleated shorts are so on-brand. They have the look of a pair of slacks but aren’t as hot as pants and look great with almost anything on top. A longer cut looks best, particularly when paired with an elegant belt. Bonus points for loafers.
As for pants, I feel like there’s only one thing to note; no corduroys! I adore corduroys, but in the interest of bridging the gap between the seasons — hold out for just a little longer. So many clothing stores have corduroys out on the floor now. I too have been drawn to them. They are one of the hottest (warmest) types of pants you could choose to wear and will likely be on sale in a month when it’s cool enough to wear them.
As for denim, a dark-wash jean is an autumn staple and goes great with everything, but one of my favorite pieces in rotation currently is a cream-colored denim pant. White jeans make such a statement and again, bridge the gap between the lighter colors of summer styles and the cut and length of fall clothing pieces.
A note on patterns and styling:
Accessories always tie something together, and a new way of styling something can give it a little life and lightness. Try a pair of patterned tights underneath shorts or a skirt, or lacy socks with a summery sandal for a fall look without changing too much. Bows and ribbons have a flowy summer feel and could lighten the look of something that feels like it belongs more in November.
If my outfit swings too far one way, I always try to make my makeup balance it a little more. If something feels too summery, a smokey eye and darker lip even it out. With a darker outfit I go lighter on the eyes, apply more blush and opt for lip gloss and an updo.
Before your summer clothes are put away in favor of fall, take some time to examine the clothing you always reach for, and then challenge yourself to pair it with something different. Mix colors that you wouldn’t normally think of, like dark browns with vibrant pinks. You’ll be surprised at what pairs you never thought of.
Styling between the seasons has its ups and downs (especially temperature-wise), but it’s also so much fun to play around with the different ways to pair items. I find a lot of my inspiration for new outfits when I mix things in unique ways. Most importantly, always follow what feels right for you, wherever you’re going and whatever the weather looks like.
Images from unsplash.com. Graphic by Lexi Petri.