Hot ’n’ Cold: How to Dress for Transitional Weather


If you live somewhere with a seasonal climate, you know that fall and spring are the toughest times of the year for getting ready. It’s not unusual for temps to fluctuate 30 or 40 degrees in a single day during these seasons—it could be 40 degrees and cloudy when you leave the house in the morning and 75 and sunny on your way home. And don’t even get us started on the precipitation potential!

If you totally dread these transitional days, fear not, because we’ve got a host of brilliant styling tips just for volatile weather. And, don’t worry–none of them involve zip-off pants (unless you want them to)!

  • Wear Layers, Layers and More Layers—The most obvious (but useful) thing you can do to dress for this kind of weather is to be prepared. That means dressing in multiple layers so you can adjust your warmth as needed. Start with a comfy base layer and suit up with pullovers, cozy scarves and light jackets. Here are some more helpful layering tips:
    • Design a general color palette for your wardrobe so it’s easier to mix and match layerables. Options include cool tones (black, gray, blue) and warm tones (red, beige, orange, brown).
    • Experiment with weights. A chunky knit sweater feels different beneath your winter coat than your fave plus size kimono jacket, so consider thickness and weight as you’re dressing.
    • Have a “bag-friendly” sweater or jacket that you can toss in your backpack or tote in fall and spring. Make sure it’s a style you don’t mind bunching up and one that’s great at resisting wrinkles.
    • Don’t be afraid to dress monochrome. Just remember to add texture and dimension with different fits and fabrics.
  • Invest in Packable Rain Gear—Let’s talk about rain. Nothing’s worse than putting together a perfect look, doing flawless hair and makeup and then having to step out into a rainstorm. But rocking a rubbery coat and galoshes doesn’t always go, especially when the chance of rain is still (forgive the pun) up in the air. To ensure that you’re ready for any level of moisture the day feels like throwing your way, consider investing in a packable raincoat that you can stick in your tote bag, backpack, gym bag or locker. And don’t forget a telescoping umbrella!
  • Invest in Do-it-All Boots—What if we told you that there were boots out there that you could wear in rain, snow and sun without that dreaded bulky winter boot feel? We’re talking about the duck boot. These preppy classics offer a snugger, comfier fit than typical rain boots and are a lot sleeker and lighter than heavyweight snow boots. Plus, they’re super-cute, especially when paired with leggings and chunky socks. They’re probably not the best choice for trekking through the Arctic, but they’re pretty much spot-on when you’re jaunting around town on those you-never-know days.

With so many high-tech materials out there, both natural and synthetic

  • Know Which Fabrics to Pick—With so many high-tech materials out there, both natural and synthetic, you should be able to find stylish pieces in temperature-regulating fabrics to keep you at the ideal temp no matter what’s going on outside. These clothes feature adaptive textiles that help keep you chill when you’re hot and warm when you’re cold, while helping to wick away sweat and moisture. Look for synthetic performance blends in the technical aisle. If you’re not huge on the sportswear-like feel of clothing in this category, consider natural regulators like bamboo or cotton.
  • Have a Vest or Two in the Rotation—Vests are the best, and we’re not just saying that because it rhymes. We’re crazy about these sleeveless wonders because they add warmth and utility to breezier fall and spring styles. Another great thing about the vest is that it’s typically equipped with ample pockets, so you can rock it with your pocketless leggings and tunics when you’re walking the dog, running errands or even working, so you always have a spot for your phone and other essentials. The quilted vest is a staple if you’re into the preppy look.
  • Utilize Your Most Versatile Scarf—Scarves are the heroes of the transitional wardrobe, but there’s virtually no type more versatile than the blanket scarf. This comfy, do-it-all accessory can be worn around the neck as a scarf—creating an oversized, cozy look—or over the shoulders as more of a shawl. Bonus points for the fact that a blanket scarf can also serve as a blanket (!) or pillow when you’re traveling. Pick one in a neutral solid so it truly goes with anything you’re wearing.
  • Get Comfortable Wearing Hats—If you’re one of the many people out there who regularly proclaims, “I just don’t look good in hats!,” we kindly ask you to reconsider! Because, trust us, you definitely do. Sometimes it just takes experimenting with styles and sizes until you find one that suits you. And once you do, you’ll be super grateful since a hat is one of the best ways to give your transitional style an extra pop of fashion and function. In the winter, we’re wild about wool big-brims, and spring is a great time for straw styles or baseball caps. They’ll add something to your look while protecting you from the sun and rain.


Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to transitional dressing, so don’t be afraid to let your personality and preferences shine through when designing looks for those uber-challenging days! As long as your outfit is adaptable to the temperature outside and makes you feel all-around fabulous, you can count it as a wearable win!

Ellen Hollington

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