The summer’s winding down and the leaves have yet to turn. While the weather might be most pleasant in this in-between season, it can make getting dressed a downer. Do you stick with the breezy summery dresses, break out the sweaters and boots or try to mix the two? Sarah LaFleur, CEO and founder of MM.LaFleur, which specializes in putting together customized “bento boxes” of wear-to-work fashion for its customers, knows how to navigate this iffy trans-season. The author of Wear to Work: A Guide to Building Your Ultimate Professional Uniform, LaFleur offers tips for your summer-to-fall wardrobe transition.
Keep up the color. “It's normal to gravitate towards darker, more subdued hues when fall rolls around, but that doesn't mean you have to avoid color altogether,” says LaFleur. “Incorporating a bright piece from your summer wardrobe is an interesting way to keep your fall look from becoming too ‘heavy.' This summer, I bought a number of pieces in a bright cornflower blue—and I plan on wearing them well into the winter with sweaters and tights."
Stock up on versatile layers. Your wardrobe must not only look good, it has to be adaptable to the season’s change-a-minute weather. “It's important to wear layers that look professional but that will keep you warm when the temperature drops,” she says. “A structured knit jacket or a comfy cardigan are my go-to pieces. And I always keep a sweater at my desk to combat air-conditioning in the summer and cooler temperatures in the fall.”
Go tonal. “In the summer, you might wear a dress that's a single bright color,” LaFleur notes. “But, when you start layering for fall, the chicest looks are those that incorporate different tones from the same color family.” She suggests pairing a heather gray skirt with a charcoal sweater, or a beige dress with an ivory blazer. “It's a softer way to ease into autumn colors, and it can actually elongate your silhouette by creating a coherent feel from head to toe,” she adds.
Invest in two pairs of great boots. “First, find a pair of flat black leather boots that are elegant—not clunky, not riding boots,” she says. “Make sure you can commute in them, work in them and go out to dinner in them so you can avoid carrying around a change of shoes. For the second pair, opt for a lighter color in suede. They'll pair beautifully with colored dresses—black footwear can look too harsh against certain colors—especially if you combine tones of a similar shade. Wear blue-ish or lilac-toned dresses with light gray boots, and reddish or camel-toned dresses with tan boots.”
Opt for cozy, eye-catching accessories. “Fall is the time to toughen up a little by adding a bit of texture,” LaFleur says. “Buy a few high-quality leather belts to liven up your dresses—and mix up the color, thickness, and texture of each. Then stock up on scarves in different weights: A colorful silk scarf adds an elegant accent no matter what the temperature, a neutral featherweight scarf is great for traveling, and a chunky infinity scarf will be your best friend when wind and snow come into play.”