As much as I love summer vacation (or the summer internship grind), autumn is almost here. As the leaves change and PSLs pop up on the Starbucks menu, it can be tempting to take “sweater weather” literally. But just because temperatures are dropping, it doesn’t mean you have to drop your summer clothes, too. (Well, your swimsuit might have to go.) There are many ways to wear summer clothes in the fall, so don’t pack up your “warm weather” clothes just yet! Here are some expert-approved tips for how to transition your favorite summery pieces into next season.
Layers on layers
“I love the fall, and I love the fashion that comes along with it,” says Abigail St. John, 20, an influencer, student at the University of South Florida, and merchant on the fashion resale platform Galaxy. “Layering gives a great opportunity to channel my inner fashionista to mix and match sets and be creative with the process.”
There’s no doubt that layering is arguably the best way to transition your summer pieces to fall. “Layers, layers, layers,” says Michelle Xie, an MBA candidate at the University of California at Berkeley and the founder of FID Jeans. “We saw a lot of button-ups this past summer, often worn as outerwear, or knotted,” she tells Her Campus. “Keep these in rotation and wear them as your base layer – then add a heavier coat on top to stay warm.” One of her favorite go-to transition outfits: a crop top, high-waisted baggy jeans, and a thick cardigan.
Follow the 80/20 rule
When transitioning your summer clothes to fall, Xie recommends balancing your closet with options that can easily be layered and dressed up or down. “Stick to an 80/20 rule with your closet,” she tells Her Campus. “80% of your clothes should be easy-to-pair neutrals that can be worn in layers across seasons. 20% should be trendy statement pieces.” And while Xie prefers to rock outerwear and formal dresses or skirts as statement pieces, finding your fall look is all about curating a style that works for you.
Rock an “oversized” comfy look
Fall season is all about being comfy and cozy, especially if you’re heading back to campus this semester. Michelle Bareid, the founder of Lace Wig Advisor, says to not shy away from wearing comfy, oversized sweatshirts and sweaters during the fall. “One of my favorite trends of 2021 was oversized t-shirts,” Bareid tells Her Campus. “But why stop there? Fall is calling for oversized sweatshirts and sweaters — you can still customize your lower half with your favorite pants and shoes.” Bareid says you can opt for plaid pants, color block denim, or another fun look to jazz up your look and balance out a loose t-shirt.
Keep your crop tops
The key to comfort when rocking a crop top in autumn (and even winter!) is keeping the rest of your outfit weather-appropriate. That way, you can show a little skin without being covered in goosebumps for the entire day. Layer up and opt for high-waisted jeans or leggings to keep cozy. If it’s super windy, you can always just button up, and if the sun makes an unexpected appearance, you’re already prepared.
“Anyone can pull off a midriff; all you need is confidence!” says Adanna Jideofor, the public relationships manager at fashion brand Oliver Wicks. “A crop top, colorful blazer, and a pair of baggy shorts can be great for class.” Jideofor says that rocking a summery top — whether a crop top or otherwise — can be a fun way to dress up your look for back-to-school season. She tells Her Campus, “Go the extra mile for brunch or drinks with your friends by rocking one of your bikini tops with a flared maxi skirt and boots, or tie a neck scarf to make it look chic!”
Canwen Xu, the Editor-in-Chief of lifestyle magazine EQ, tells Her Campus, “Layering summery crop tops under oversized blazers can help transition your style to colder weather. I also love layering crop tops under overalls — longer tops get too scrunched up, whereas crop tops are perfect for wearing underneath!” Pairing your crop top with denim or another form of layering can help you stay stylish and warm this semester.
re-Style a sundress
A sundress is actually one of the most versatile pieces in your closet, and shouldn’t be banished to a dusty hanger in the back once September hits! Instead of pairing your sundress with a denim jacket like you normally would, opt for something a little cozier and throw a cardigan on top instead, or add some boots or a beanie for a “fall” look. You can also try layering the dress over another shirt to stay warm without covering up the dress itself, or if it’s a little too warm for a cardigan but too cold to rock bare shoulders, a button-up shirt might be just right for layering. Tie it in a cute knot for a look that’s cute and polished.
Add a pair of tights
“A good way to transition into the fall with summer pieces is to add a pair of tights to your skirt of choice with an oversized sweater or simple jacket paired with it,” St. John tells Her Campus. “My Doc Martin’s are my go to with skirts and tights, so I think I’ll be wearing them to the ground this fall!”
While skirts and shorts over tights can feel like a bold look for some, it’s definitely worth trying this fall. Whether you’re going with plaid, denim or high-waisted shorts, or a miniskirt, simply coordinate your outfit like you normally would, then slip on a pair of tights underneath to stave off the autumn chill. Honestly, you may even find yourself feeling like Serena van der Woodsen — plus, no one will be able to tell you didn’t shave your legs (big win).
Rewear a cute romper
If you have a favorite romper left over from summer, just layer a snuggly grandpa sweater on top of it, and you’re good to go! This isn’t an #OOTD you see every day, but all you need to pull it off (and inspire people around you to take a fashion risk as well) is a healthy dose of confidence. Striding down the quad listening to a killer playlist doesn’t hurt either. Also, if it’s chilly out, you can always add tights or leggings to keep you warm.
Denim all day
This summer-to-fall transformation is an easy one. Just grab your favorite pair of jeans and a cozy tee, a warm sweater, and you’re good to go. “This fall I plan to have a lot of fun with my 501 Levi’s jeans as my base,” St. John tells Her Campus. “During the summer, I pair these with a tank top. I plan to do the same this fall, but add a knitted or crocheted sweater over it. I then pair them with bright colored socks and simple brown flats or my favorite big fuzzy boots.”
Also, in case you’re wondering yes, you can rock white jeans after Labor Day with just a few easy tips! Autumn typically means the opportunity to wear darker colors, so balance out the bright white of your jeans with shades like burgundy or navy. This contrast can make the outfit look polished and sophisticated. Try booties or heels instead of flats to keep your hemline safe from dust, dirt and puddles, and you’ll be surprised by how well white jeans and dress up your fall look. Finally, don’t forget to throw a stain-remover stick in your bag just in case — when it comes to white jeans, you’re better safe than sorry.
Experiment with new colors and items
“I like to match my style to the color palette of the season,” says St. John. “I’m sticking to brown, beige, tan, burnt orange, and black neutrals!” she says, and tells Her Campus that this season, she’s especially inspired by vintage Parisian fashion. While chic darker shades and neutrals may be “in” this time of year, don’t be afraid to incorporate some bolder shades and bright pops of color into your fall look, too! You can always keep the rest of your outfit neutral to allow crimson heels or cobalt blue bag to pop — it’s a great way to bring the brightness of summer into the fall semester.
If you’re looking for a way to mix up your fall look while repurposing your summer clothes, another idea is to reuse your favorite accessory in a new way. “It seems like everyone’s been wearing silk scarves as tops recently,” Xu tells Her Campus. “Instead of shoving those to the back of your closet, you can tie them around your bags for a touch of color.” Whether it’s reimagining pieces in your wardrobe or trying a new color palette to ring in the season, there are many ways to repurpose your summer clothes for fall — it just takes a little effort and inspiration!
While the seasons might be changing, it’s totally possible to rock summer clothes during fall. When you head back to school this semester, remember, you don’t have to entirely reinvent your wardrobe — just keep a few of your favorite pieces around, and layer, layer, layer. When in doubt, refer to these expert-approved style tips, and you’ll be on your way to tackling fall semester feeling confident and cute. Good luck!