Don’t think that just because summer is over you need to call it quits with your dresses. Fall is a great time of year to wear a dress, and in fact, it’s my favorite season to style one. Styling a dress in fall is much more exciting than doing it in the summer, as it allows for creativity and you can add a few layers without sweating through your clothes. Dresses are great transitional pieces, and with a few easy styling tips, you can have your dresses fall-ready in a flash.
Whether you’re starting at a closet full of dresses or looking to give your fall wardrobe a new feel, here are my tips on how to style a dress for fall plus 12 outfits ideas to get you started.
How to Style a Dress for Fall
Wearing a dress in the fall is all about adding layers, embracing seasonal colors and cozy materials, and updating your footwear and accessories.
Although you can certainly try these tips on their own, I personally like to utilize a few of them at the same time for the ultimate fall dress outfit.
Choosing the Right Fall Dresses
Color Palette: Embrace Fall Tones
First things first: when you’re looking to wear any summer piece in the fall – not just a dress – lean into fall colors and tones. Although different fall seasons may spark certain color trends from year to year, you can never go wrong with classic fall colors like these:
- Warm browns (chocolate brown, dark tan, light latte)
- Rust or terracotta
- Mustard yellow
- Deep red or burgundy
- Hunter or olive green
- The usual suspects: navy, dark gray, and black
I like to use color as my starting point when styling a dress in the fall. Look for dresses that have any of the above colors in them, even if it’s just a little bit! To get that color to stand out, wear other pieces in the same color family to draw that color out of your dress.
Fall Prints and Patterns
Try a fun print or pattern with your fall dress. Plaid is always a top pick for me, and stripes and herringbone inject a back to school sensibility that’s synonymous with the season. Floral dresses can still work for fall so long as they feel moodier than their summer counterparts.
Other than color, the other big thing to think about as you style your dress for fall is fabric.
Summer dresses will obviously be lighter weight than their fall counter parts, and that’s totally okay. But as you make your way through your putting together your fall dress outfit, you want to think about opposition. If you have a lightweight summer dress, incorporate other, heavier fabric pieces to your look. This will help offset a flowy summer dress, and make your outfit seasonally appropriate.
If you’re purchasing a new dress for fall, lean into thicker materials like these:
- Sweater knits
- Leather or faux leather velvet
- Heavyweight cotton
Fall Dresses with Jackets: Experiment with Outerwear
Pair a Leather Jacket with Your Dress
One of easiest ways to layer a dress in the fall is to add a jacket. My personal go-to is always a classic black leather jacket, but . Leather is a cool-weather staple, and because it’s a heavier material (see above), it can help “fallify” most outfits in a flash.
Whether you’re wearing a solid dress, something printed, or even a feminine dress, a black leather jacket provides structure and an edgy touch.
Real leather jackets are an investment, but they’re super sturdy, and unless you outgrow yours, you’ll have it forever. If real leather isn’t in your budget, many brands make great quality faux leather options.
Add a Denim Jacket
If you’re not a leather jacket girl, then grab another closet classic to go over your dress: a denim jacket.
Today’s denim jackets are slightly oversized, so look for a boxier cut instead of something fitted.
Try a Blazer
If you want a more fashion-forward look, try a blazer over your dress.
Dress it up with a sleek slip dress and heels, or for a more street style vibe, pair your dress and blazer with chunky sneakers.
Layer, Layer, Layer
If you live in a cold climate where a dress and a jacket just won’t suffice, it’s time to add in more layers.
Turtleneck Under Dress
I am a big fan of layering a turtleneck under my dresses in the fall. It adds that perfect extra layer of warmth without adding bulk.
Look for snug-fitting silhouettes, so that the fabric doesn’t bunch up under your dress (this is a huge, uncomfortable pet peeve of mine). Splendid makes great layering turtlenecks, and if you need something that provides even more warmth, Commando bodysuits always keeps me toasty.
Sweater Over Dress
A sweater over a dress is always a cozy look for fall. I get cold quickly, so I always look for chunky style or something with a turtleneck to keep me warm. During the times when you’re not wearing the sweater, just throw it over your shoulders for a chic, classic way to wear it.
Keep your legs warm by adding tights. And tights aren’t just for short dresses; wear them under a long dress for an added layer when it’s extra crisp outside this fall.
Shoes to Wear with Fall Dresses
Don’t forget about the right footwear when you’re wearing a dress in the fall. At the start of the season or for a night out you can still get away with an open toe sandal, but as cooler fall weather starts to creep in, swap your shoes for something that will keep them warmer.
Some of my footwear choices to wear with dresses are:
- Classic white sneakers like these or these
- Combat or lug sole boots (I have these pull-on boots in two colors, worn above)
- Ankle boots (look for styles that hug your ankle for a sleeker, chicer look)
- Tall boots
Loafers with Dresses
Loafers have been having a resurgence in fashion over the past few years and I’m here for it. There are a ton of ways to style loafers, they’re not just for pants and trousers, try styling your loafers with a fall dress.
These under $100 black loafers have been in my closet for years and I keep finding new, fun ways to wear them. Sezane, one of my favorite fashion brands, always has a great selection of heeled loafers and flat loafers during this time of year.
Fall Dresses and Boots
Fall Dresses with Tall Boots
Fall Dresses with Cowboy Boots
Fall Dresses with Combat Boots
With seasonal fabrics, warm fall colors, and key layering pieces, you’re all set to rock your favorite dresses this season. Think about incorporating a couple of these styling elements into your fall dress outfit. For example, a faux leather blazer checks the box for both fall fabric and the perfect outerwear piece. Or try wearing a fall dress and tall boots and tight tights if you need the added warmth.
If you try out any of these fall dress outfits, be sure to let me know! I can’t wait to see how fabulous you look.
Looking for more fall fashion inspo? Check out these posts: