How to style your summer frocks for Autumn

Jenessa Williams 4 November 2021

Here's how to dress for the cooler weather without entirely leaving last season behind 

As a new season begins and stores slash prices in their end-of-summer sales, it can be easy to feel in limbo with regards to Autumn dressing.

Whether you’re evaluating a potential sale bargain or trying to make better use of what you already own, a few styling tweaks and shrewd investments will keep your spring-summer dresses in rotation for the rest of the year to come.

Outfit 1: Yumi Dress £37.50, Marks & Spencer Leather Jacket £59.99, Colourful Standard Hat £30, John Lewis Thermal Vest £14, LN-CC Boots £445

Nothing defies the fleeting nature of trends like classic black. Rather than going straight to head-to-toe monochrome for winter, keep a flash of summer colour by teaming your favourite summer wrap dresses with a leather jacket and boots.  Two wardrobe staples that can be worn time and time again, both will be worth the cost-per-wear investment.

If you are looking to tap specifically into the season’s trends, look for leather jackets with large lapels and a 70-style mid-thigh length, balancing out the feminine shape of the dress. Still feeling chilly?

A thermal vest and simple knitted hat add extra warmth without detracting from the overall look.

Outfit 2: Toast Dress £195, Mango Blouse £19.99, Shrimps Coat £650, Dorothy Perkins Beret £11.20, Oliver Bonas Tights £6.50, John Lewis Shoes £69

Channel your inner Wes Anderson character by layering your lightweight summer linen dress as a pinafore. Beret and tights are of course optional, but the school-uniform shape of the oversized collar and tweedy coat remain hugely on-trend for autumn, as do a shiny pair of Mary Janes.

The key is in the subtlety of the coloursinstead of going for bold primary shades all over, gentle pastels can be teamed with one or two choice deep tones for a coherent look. 

Should you be wanting to dress things down, a basic strapped summer dress like this also works well with a regular white t-shirt underneath.

Outfit 3: Weekday Dress £25, Charles & Keith Bag £69, Ted Baker Roll Neck £52, Massimo Dutti Jeans £49.95, Clarks Boots £160

The V-neck floaty mini dress was everywhere this summer, particularly in gingham or plaid prints. There’s no need to resign yours to storage just yet; the plunging neckline and cropped sleeves offer plenty of space to layer a roll neck underneath, showcasing any necklaces you might want to add. 

Skinny jeans tucked into long boots will help to elongate the frame of the short dress, while a brown bag and camel coat highlight the colours of the season.

When it comes to elongating the life of brown accessories, a good polish or rain-resistant coating can help, but don’t be afraid to let them age of their own accord; lots of high-quality leathers look even better once they’ve been lived in a bit.

Outfit 4: Zara dress £49.99, Uniqlo knit gilet £19.90, Veja £115, Weekday coat, Loewe belt £250

The easiest way to make a full-length floral dress work for winter is to simply layer thermals underneath, but there is plenty you can do by building on top.

Break up the print of the frock with an oversized vest—the lack of arms will make it much easier to get a thin coat over the top without feeling too constricted.

Use a belt to play around with lengths; wear around the dress and vest to define your waist, or tuck the vest under to bring it to your most flattering length. With so much warmth added up top, bare legs and trainers finish the look without compromising on comfort. 

Outfit 5: Monki £25, White Stuff £59, Kickers £90, Catherine Tough Socks £20, Nudie Jeans Jacket £155

Colour lovers rejoice; there is a way to do autumn dressing without entirely abandoning the brighter hues of spring and summer. Balance lilac out by leaning into equal parts of neon and neutrala chartreuse sock tucked into a sensible brown boot, the colourful graphics of a cream graphic jumper peeking out from under a hip-skimming chore coat.

The shape of a jumper is important too; with a column dress like this, look for knitwear that is either cropped or has a curved hem, avoiding the boxy finish that layering often provides.

Don’t be afraid to disregard the number on the label; style is all about how the clothing makes you feel, so have fun experimenting with different proportions and sizes to get the overall effect you want. 

Read more: The history of scarves

Read more: How to style out autumn

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