How to Wear a Dress in the Fall/Winter

by Barbie Carpenter

Plummeting temperatures don't require you to pack away your favorite frocks for the fall and winter. With some smart styling and layering, you can transform even your most lightweight summer dresses into fall and winter looks. A closet filled with layering items can make those feminine pieces suitable year-round.

Layering the Legs

Keep your legs warm to successfully transition your dress into cold climes.

  • Tights: Pick up a few pairs of neutral tights -- black, dark gray and navy -- which will coordinate with a variety of dresses, and for fun, invest in a colorful pair or two. Seasonal hues of deep red, jade or amethyst add a pop of color to neutral fall and winter dresses. Your little black dress will take on a new look with boldly covered legs.
  • Leggings: Leggings provide even more coverage from chilly temperatures, especially the fleece-lined variety. In addition to classic black or gray leggings, get trendy with a patterned pair. Colorful tribal-print leggings make a statement. Be sure to pair bolder varieties with solid-colored dresses. Leather leggings create a chic look and instantly dress up even a casual dress.
  • Boot Socks: Before winter's cold blows in, take advantage of showing a little skin. An above-the-knee dress paired with thick, knee-high cable-knit boot socks -- and a coordinating pair of boots, of course -- keeps your legs toasty.

Suitable Shoes

A fall or winter dress also calls for shoes appropriate for the season. Invest in a pair of knee-high leather riding boots, which provide added warmth and team well with leggings, tights and socks. High-heel booties can dress up your look -- choose a leather or suede pair to suit the season. Finally, your favorite pair of closed-toe pumps always complements a pretty frock and tights.

Coverage Up Top

A strapless, sleeveless or short-sleeved dress works in the fall and winter with the right layers.

  • Leather Jackets: A chic leather jacket adds a seasonal touch to even a flirty floral sundress. Plus, this classic look adds a layer of warmth when temperatures cool.
  • Cardigans: Choose a coordinating cardigan as your top layer. For a patterned dress, opt for a neutral cardigan -- think beige, gray or black. For a solid-colored frock, add some visual intrigue by sporting a patterned cardigan -- an ikat or animal print adds dimension to an otherwise basic outfit.
  • Long Sleeves: If your dress has a detailed bodice you want to show off -- or maybe you're tired of the cardigan -- layer under rather than over it. Choose a light wool turtleneck, for example, which adds an extra layer of warmth under a jersey or shift dress.

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.