Dressing For Fall When it Still Feels Like Summer

Fall officially began on Monday, September 23. But as you’ve probably noticed, it still feels like summer in the city of Richmond. As I’m writing this, it’s 85 degrees outside. So even though the calendar says it’s time to reach for your boots, flannels and beanies, you’d be sweating profusely throughout the day if you did that. 

As a lover of layers and neutral tones, fall has always been my favorite season for fashion. But thanks to the warming of our planet, the beautiful Virginia autumn season gets shorter and less mild each year. As disheartening as that reality is, your dedication to fall fashion doesn’t have to suffer. Below are some of ideas on how to keep cool while still channeling the essence of your favorite fall trends.

  1. 1. Pair long sleeves with short hemlines

    Short sleeves with long pants are a common combination, so the inverted version of that look with covered arms and bare legs is a fun one. Since the milder seasons of fall and spring are the only times of the year when you can comfortably get away with this style, I try to take full advantage.

  2. 2. Opt for booties over knee-highs

    Nothing says autumn like boots, but when it’s over 80 degrees outside, your legs need to breathe. Ankle boots are your secret weapon on a hot fall day. Pair them with a sundress to add an autumnal flair to your go-to warm-weather outfit. And on a humid, rainy fall day, Chelsea boots will be your new best friend.

  3. 3. Balance oversized pieces with fitted ones

    A tiny tee with shorts is my favorite casual summer outfit, and a loose sweater or flannel with boyfriend jeans is my favorite fall outfit. It’s still way too warm outside to sport the latter, so I’ve found a happy medium. I like to rock an oversized tee tucked into a high-waisted miniskirt or shorts. Or, I’ll invert that look by wearing baggy jeans or loose-fitting pants, like linen or harem, with a fitted crop top.

  4. 4. Fall colors, summer textures

    Thankfully it’s not too hard to find lightweight, breathable pieces of clothing in autumnal hues and patterns. My favorite staples are cotton plaids, earthy florals and black or burgundy chiffon.

  5. 5. Yes, you can wear white after Labor Day

    The "no white pants after Labor Day" rule is a silly, outdated one. Plus, there are scientific reasons as to why we are justified in breaking this rule. White is the color that reflects light the most, so it's the best color to wear on the hottest of days. Since temperatures are still just as high at the beginning of October as they were on Labor Day weekend, this rule no longer serves us. Pair white sundresses/white denim with ankle boots or high tops and wool socks to transition a classic warm-weather outfit into an early fall look. Add a felt, wide-brim hat as the icing on the cake.

  6. 6. Pack away your sandals, but keep your crop tops on hand

    A crop top is an incredibly versatile article of clothing, especially now that high waistlines are so on-trend. And call me crazy, but I swear that sometimes that extra inch or two of exposed skin makes a huge difference when feeling like heatstroke is imminent. Crop tops are a summer staple that you shouldn’t bury deep in your closet to make room for your sweaters just yet.

Stay cool, rams! ("Cool" as in both of its applicable meanings here: on-trend and not sweaty!)