Ah, fall—when the breeze becomes a chill, the air turns crisp, and the leaves transform into a golden rainbow. This season is a fan favorite for so many reasons. But as the weather transitions to apple-picking temperatures, how can your closet transition with it?
The key to it all? Mixing, matching, and layering. With a little creativity, you can combine summer pieces with fall pieces for the perfect between-season look. Keep reading for our expert guide on finding your best summer to fall transition outfits.
#1 Layer, Layer, Layer
The mornings start off crisp and dry, but the afternoon sun brings some blazing heat. Luckily, there’s one expert style tool to navigate those early fall weather changes—layers.
Layering clothes is an art and a science. Depending on your lifestyle and local climate, you may face chilly winds, office AC, and humid heat within 24 hours. The right layers can take you seamlessly through the day without feeling a sweat or chill. Try these tips for your next transitional fall outfits:
- Add light upper layers – Summer outfits and fall outerwear go hand-in-hand. Pair a sleeveless summer dress (think light, breezy, and thinner) with a blazer, cardigan, or light jacket. If wearing pants, add a poncho or light cozy sweater over a thin blouse or t-shirt. You can even put a blazer over an outfit with dressy shorts!
- Stick with removable layers – A tight sweater can look chic, but you might get very sweaty when the afternoon sun picks up. For easy outfit transitions, stick with removable layers like blazers, zip-up hoodies, vests, ponchos, and shackets. And if you don’t know what a shacket is, learn how to style a shacket in our recent blog!
- Embrace different thicknesses – The difference between light linens and chunky wools is huge. To stay away from bulky outfit territory, stick with thin layers near your body like camisoles, tank tops, and tights.
- Create a color scheme –Texture and silhouette are just two parts of the layering puzzle. Don’t forget your colors and patterns! You don’t have to dress in monochrome from head to toe. However, your layers should fit into a color or pattern scheme.
#2 Throw on Some Tights
Tights are like a cheat code to fall style. Throw them on under any dress, add some boots, and you can take your favorite summer looks (and legs) into the chillier weather.
Another excellent benefit of tights is their colors, patterns, and textures. Consider tights as another “layer,” adding a different dimension to your outfit. Add a pop of seasonal flair to your look with these fall tights designs:
- Opaque black
- Rich jewel tones (red, green, magenta)
- Different nude shades (grey, brown, beige)
- Sweater textures
- Ribbed patterns
#3 Accessorize Like a Pro
Summer is light, breezy, and stripped back. But fall? That’s when your accessories really get to shine.
Think of accessories as another outfit layer, not a separate piece. The more accessories you add, the more nuanced and layered your outfit looks. From cashmere scarves to chunky necklaces, play around with these accessories to embrace fall style:
- Thick belts – Perfect to cinch those breezy sundresses or fall tunics. A thick leather belt gives a rustic, cold-weather feel to summer clothing.
- Statement jewelry – One (or two) oh-so-glamorous jewelry pieces can take an outfit from average to amazing. Bridge the gap between summer and fall with a mix of precious metals and stones. Turquoise necklaces, gold chandelier or hoop earrings, and costume rings perfectly balance warm and cool styles.
- Silk scarves – Classic and chic, silk scarves never go out of style. Even better, they work in both summer and fall wardrobes. Wrap a patterned silk scarf around your hairstyle, bag handle, or neck or a pop of seasonal color (and a little warmth).
- Felt hats – Whether you love berets or fedoras, a felt hat just says “fall”. Slouchy styles add an urban and casual feel (think beanies or unshaped berets), while wide-brim hats give off glamour.
#4 Add Breathable Fabrics
The air may be getting crisper, but early fall weather loves to keep you on your toes. As you start to layer up the clothing, it’s important to know the best fabrics for cold weather, to keep yourself ventilated and comfortable with the most breathable fabrics.
When we say “breathable” we mean fabrics that allow your body heat. That way, your clothing won't trap your body heat and create uncomfortable moisture (a.k.a., sweat). From dresses to pants, these breathable fabrics will keep you breezy from summer to fall:1
- Merino wool
#5 Invest in Jackets
Every woman knows a chic and well-fitting jacket is priceless. And when transitioning from summer to fall, there are many types of jackets for women that you can choose from, depending on your personal style.
When it comes to fall fashion, one jacket usually can’t do it all. Instead, invest in a few staple lightweight jackets that work across a range of formality levels and looks. That way, you can always stay warm in style. season. Some top fall jacket designs include:
- Cropped leather jackets
- Military-style cargo jacket
- Blazers (oversize or fitted)
- Lightweight bomber jackets
- Trench coats (particularly camel or black)
- Windbreakers or sporting jackets
#6 Add Deeper, Darker, and Richer Colors
The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and the colors are getting darker.
When transitioning to fall colors, you don’t have to hit the gas full-speed. Start by slowly implementing the richer shades of this season in your wardrobe. Piece by piece, add items like an evergreen scarf, a deep brown jacket, or even some mahogany shoes to your favorite summer outfits. By combining the lighter palette of summer with dark fall tones, you can hit that between-season sweet spot.
For some outfit inspiration, consider these summer-fall color pairings:
- Dusty coral and rust
- Buttercup yellow and warm brown
- Deep navy and crisp white
- Scarlett and bronze
- Light blue and off-white
- Lavender and plum
#7 Boot Up!
No fall closet is complete without some stompers. Adding a pair of boots to your summer outfits instantly gives your look a “fall feel.”
When picking boots, different heights complement different silhouettes. Those ankle-cut boots may look cute, but pairing them with a shorter dress can shorten the appearance of your legs. See how each common boot type can fit into your fall wardrobe:
- Ankle boots – Easy, casual, yet chic, the ankle boot is an excellent icebreaker for fall style. By cutting you off at the ankle, these leather or suede booties should be paired with long and vertical silhouettes—think skinny jeans, cropped pants, boho maxi dresses, etc.
- Knee-high boots – The quintessential fall boot, knee-highs are sophisticated yet fun. With their long lines, these boots compliment tucked-in pants, short or mid-length dresses, and mini skirts. Try a classic brown or black leather pair to take your outfit instantly into fall.
- Thigh-high boots – Thigh-high boots are a chic and sensual footwear option for the fall. Even better, they’re very long silhouette pairs amazingly with summer staples like shorts and miniskirts. Throw thigh-high boots over skinny jeans or tights, or place them underneath some dressy shorts for a night out.
- Combat boots – These military-style boots are a fall daytime staple for many. Combat boots add an urban edge to every outfit, taking light sundresses into darker fall territory. Pair these lace-ups with your flowy dresses, skinny jeans or leggings, and cropped and wide legged pants.
#8 Sweat(er) It Out
Chunky, cable-knit, cardigan, cashmere—there’s no wrong way to sweater in fall.
If you had to pick one layering category, let it be sweaters. These versatile pieces, along with womens knit tops, add instant coziness, coverage, and texture to every outfit. Sweaters can also change the silhouette of your outfit, shaping or lengthening certain areas of the body. Bring your favorite summer look into fall with these cozy sweater pairings:
- Short cardigans – Pair with your favorite sundress or tennis skirt
- Long cardigans – Transition summer shorts with a blouse, boots, and a flowy cardigan
- Knit sweaters – Get classic with a knit sweater over a button-down and slim pants
- Vests – Rock a grunge-y knit vest over a tank top paired with wide-leg pants
- Shawls or ponchos – Go boho-chic with flare pants, a tank top, and a statement necklace
#9 Get Into Texture
When warm weather turns to cooler weather, thicker clothing enters the picture—and that means playing around with texture.
Fabric textures are one of the best ways to add dimension to an outfit. Want to evoke a cozy-casual mood? Choose a relaxed texture with a plain-weave thread like flannel.2 Want to make your shoes pop? Pick a unique material like crocodile or mohair. Adding these textures can transition your wardrobe from simple summer to fun fall:
- Leather or pleather
- Cable-knit or ribbed knit
- Fur or mohair
- Silk or satin
#10 Last (But Not Least)—Let Go of the Rules
At the end of the day, there’s no “one” road to fall style. Your autumn closet should make you feel best—so forget the rules! If you prefer pastels, rock some pastel sweaters. If you can’t decide between chambray vs denim, wear both. If you love linen shirts, keep wearing them with your fall jeans. By sticking to your own sense of style, you’ll carve a clear path to fall fashion.
A More Fabulous Fall with Karen Kane
Whether you’re dreaming of fall or already feel that crisp chill, it’s always the right time to build your seasonal wardrobe. With Karen Kane, you can take your fashion sense from summer to autumn (and beyond).
Our chic women's clothing includes sustainable boho designs to suit every climate. From flowy linen sundresses to oh-so-cozy knits, you can expertly layer our pieces all year long—minus the waste. Commit to sustainability, and you commit to a style.
- Well and Good. 8 Breathable Fabrics That Won't Show Sweat. https://www.wellandgood.com/list-of-breathable-fabrics/
- Masterclass. How to Create Outfits By Mixing and Matching Clothing Textures. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-create-outfits-by-mixing-and-matching-clothing-textures