News & Politics

Fashion Forward: Transitioning Summer Styles to Fall Wardrobes

Stylish Washingtonians tell us how they work summer-wardrobe staples into cold-weather ensembles.

Looking to squeeze a few more weeks out of your summer clothes but unsure how to wear them without getting goosebumps? Style mavens say it’s time for transitional wardrobes, which are all about layering. In honor of the turning of the leaves, we asked stylish Washingtonians (including a few from the best-dressed list in our upcoming October issue!) how they’re bringing their August closets into autumn. Read on for looks inspired by their words of wisdom.

European Chic

Lindsay Czarniak, sports anchor, NBC4

Lindsay’s advice:
“This season, I’ve set aside two sundresses that aren’t going to hibernate inside my storage unit. They’re perfect for layering over jeans and under a cool leather jacket—the trick is to make sure the jacket allows the right amount of skirt to show. Top it off with a cool scarf and you’re good to go. The look is very European with a touch of summer color, and it’s even suitable for football games.”

How we worked it:
We paired a breezy two-piece dress—one of summer’s biggest trends—with a buttercream motorcycle jacket for cooler weather. Cuffed jeans keep legs warm and showcase punchy flats, while hammered hoop earrings and a lightweight scarf add an air of Italian chic. Matching ruffle details on the shoe and top help to reign in a multi-tonal color palette, and the bold zipper hardware of the jacket de-sweetens a wardrobe full of preppy basics.

RicRac Pendulum Dress, $128.
DOMA Leather Motorcycle Jacket, $620.
Paige Premium Denim Blue Heights Cuffed Skinny Jeans, $168.
Forever21 Double Hoop Texture Earring, $3.80.
Forever21 Solid Woven Fringe Scarf, $7.80
Steve Madden Florale Flat, $89.95.

>> Next page: Tips from former Miss DC Kate Michael

Short Story

Kate Michael, K Street Kate blogger and Miss DC 2006

Kate’s advice:
“Shorts aren’t for just summer—they’re seasonless! Pair them with tights, a feminine blouse, and accessories to update your look for fall. Since I like to make a statement, I might choose ultra-colorful tights, but black always works just as well. I wear booties to pull off the warmer look while still seeming cool and carefree.”

How we worked it:
Though Kate is a fan of neon tights, monochrome brown shading on the bottom will actually lengthen leg, and no personality is lost if you choose a subtle texture, such as this diamond pattern. A simple lariat-and-studs combination lets a bohemian-inspired blouse speak for itself, and the luxe hunter-green satchel adds an extra pop of unexpected color.

Diane von Furstenberg Bouda Tunic, $265.
Steve Alan Brown Tweed Pip Short, $180.
Hue Diamond Tornado tights, $12.50.
Urban Outfitters Pyramid Stud Earrings, $9.99.
Enzo Angiolini ‘Rachey’ Bootie, $119.95.
Rebecca Minkoff Zipper Love Envy Green Morning After Bag, $595.
Banana Republic Twisted Tassel Necklace, $42.

>> Next page: Tips from fashion blogger Brooke Kao

The Tights Alternative

Brooke Kao, The Fashion Void That Is DC blogger and Washingtonian Best-Dressed 2009

Brooke’s advice:
“Wearing thick knee- or calf-length socks with strappy platform sandals is very Burberry-esque and trendy right now—it’s also a good way to wear sandals in cooler weather.”

How we worked it:
There’s a tendency to turn to darks when colder weather hits, but cranberry is a more cheerful—and just as workable—neutral anchor. The platform sandals transition well thanks to thick straps and a substantial heel, while the gray sweater-coat is an unexpected accent to the seasonal color palette. A tortoise-shell belt smartens up the whole ensemble, and the final touch—Marc Jacobs studs—add just a hint of whimsy.

Marc Jacobs Logo Studs, $38.
Hue Knee Hi Socks, $6.
French Connection Poison Dress, $168.
Old Navy Heather Gray Cardi Coat, $35.
J. Crew Tortoise Belt, $39.
Jessica Simpson Clonise Platform Sandal, $64.80.>> Next page: Tips from McLean Robbins, The Washingtonian style contributor

Rethinking the Maxi

McLean Robbins, a Washingtonian fashion and spa contributing writer and Deacon Does DC blogger

McLean’s advice:
“In the summer, I live in simple cotton shifts paired with statement jewelry or great sandals. To bring this look into cooler weather, I’ve invested in a number long-sleeve tees, leggings, and casual jackets to update my look. Pair a basic black dress with a white tee and a chain, and voilà—you’re rocker-cool.”

How we worked it:
The maxi dress is one of the trickiest trends to carry into fall, but this basic summer shift turns rocker-sophisticate with the right additions. A substantial bib necklace wows but doesn’t overwhelm by keeping with the color palette of the dress, and ruffled suede heels add texture and ensure legs aren’t lost in the long fabric. Nothing says elegance quite like a structured tweed jacket­, but we’re glad the gold-flecked fabric and frayed cuff lines keep this one from coming off too seriously.

J. Crew Blushed Tweed Collier Jacket, $325.
James Perse White Crew T, $45.
Steve Madden Cuddless Bootie, $149.95.
James Perse Knit Maxi Sundress , $155.
Greenbeads Floral Bib Necklace, $450.

>> Next page: Washingtonian Best-Dressed Jim Pak gives advice for men

For the Men

Jim Pak, entrepreneur and Washingtonian Best-Dressed 2009 

im’s Advice:
“I like to wear my boat shoes through the fall but in a richer color or suede—it brings a little casualness to a jacket-and-pant outfit that can be worn day or night. One can also wear cotton or silk light-weight sweaters through the fall.”

How we worked it:

Somber navys, grays, and burgundy get a little smart aleck with the help of intensely kelly-green top-siders. A gingham button-down—a summer staple of prepsters everywhere—goes urban with the sleeves rolled up and layered under a slim-cut grandpa cardigan, and classic fit cords and a sporty nylon parka keep the whole thing young and casual. With so many pieces on top, a brown tank watch is the only accessory you’ll need.

Billabong Twitter Cardigan, $54.50.
Paul Smith Cotton Gingham Dress Shirt, $148.50
Ralph Lauren Telford Boat Shoe , $209.53.
Homo Emerito Navy Parka, $99.90.
O’Neill Vagabond Cord Pant, $49.50.
Nautica Chronograph Watch, $175.


Sarah is the Editor-in-Chief of Washingtonian Bride & Groom, and writes about weddings, fashion, and shopping. Her work has also appeared in Refinery29, Bethesda Magazine, and Washington City Paper, among others. She is a Georgetown University graduate, lives in Columbia Heights, and you can find her on Instagram at @washbridegroom and @sarahzlot.