6 Guidelines to Transition Between Summer and Fall Work Wear

Fall it up: transitioning to autumn office wear


Wardrobe savvy tips for a smooth and versatile transition to Fall professional wear

Not that you need reminding, but September is around the corner, and with it the dreaded end of the summer.

And for those of you living in places where seasons actually mean something (unlike the San Francisco Bay Area), it’s time to review your wardrobe to accommodate temperatures that can still be warm during the day but getting cooler at the season advances.

This may make it hard to put together a professional wardrobe that is comfortable, practical and stylish.

Don’t despair.

Just because the seasons are changing doesn’t mean you have to overhaul your closet with cooler weather professional wear. With one exception: if your workplace enforces a business formal dress code, you are left to dig out your heavier suits, and put away almost everything else related to summer wear. (I know, I am sad too.)

The good news is that, except for a few industries, most work places favor business professional dress, and even if generally conservative, this provides room to be creative.

Business professional style: a refresh before wardrobe tips

The heading may seem ironic: refreshing a style you buried in the warm summer and which may feel the opposite of refreshing to you. But it is not that bad!

Business professional for men means a well-groomed blazer or suit jacket, a button down shirt, and dress pants, with some flexibility regarding ties and shoes. Women can wear a skirt or pantsuit, with a blouse or modest top, or a dress paired with a blazer or jacket, and closed toe shoes.

And while colors tend to be black, gray or navy, other colors can look professional if they have the right style, composition and fabric. And more good news for us ladies: because the business professional code offers more options to women, so too does the transition to a fall professional wardrobe.

The following tips, then, are mostly addressed to women.

Six guidelines for a versatile transition between summer and fall work wear

For a smooth transition, it is best to extend the life of your summer wardrobe, and gradually incorporate fall season wear into your professional attire.

As the season changes gradually, your wardrobe can transition gradually too.

The key is versatility and composition. With a little creativity, you can expand the life of your summer pieces, manage the change in temperature, and minimize the impact on your budget.

This is the formula:

Base summer pieces + fall staples  

1.   Repurpose summer items

Don’t be overly hasty to put away your summer wardrobe. Some summer pieces can be cross-overs between seasons. Jersey dresses, silk blouses and pencil skirts can be “fall-ed up” with the right tops, pantyhose, and layer pieces.

Ask yourself if a piece can be worn with something underneath, or on top, or with mid-heel shoes, and still look good. If so, repurpose!

2.   Think “weather appropriate” and not fall (color) appropriate

When repurposing your summer wardrobe, put away fabrics that are only for hot weather (such as cotton knits and linen) and keep pieces in medium-weight fabrics that can be layered, regardless of the color. Don’t succumb to “fall color maxims” such as no white after Labor Day.

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Mara Kolesas
Mara Kolesas
Mara Kolesas, Ph.D., is a style with substance expert, based in Berkeley, CA, who provides intelligent styling for professionals. She grew up in Buenos Aires where she breathed style from an early age. She went on to a career in political science, studying for a doctorate in New York City, and later lived in Florence, Rome, Berlin and Beirut, where she pursued my two passions: she studied and promoted citizen empowerment, diversity and inclusion, and she explored small boutiques, helping friends find outfits that gave them joy and confidence. Along with her artistic eye and knowledge of fashion, she brings analytical and social expertise to a field with superficial associations. Twitter