6+ ways of how to wear summer dresses in winter

6+ Options of How to Wear Summer Dresses in Winter

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Our poor little summer dresses. They get so neglected in the wintertime. I mean, I understand, that you just can’t stay warm enough in a sleeveless, lightweight dress.
Or can you? My friend, Mireille, posted an Instagram challenge about how to wear summer dresses in winter recently, and she’s sharing her idea on her blog too. So make sure to click over to check her blog post out.

Quote of the day: “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.” Dorothy Thompson

Don’t be afraid to wear what is already in your closet. Even if it doesn’t seem weather appropriate. Many times you can layer things to make it work for the temperatures. I became a master at layering when we lived in Denver, Colorado, and who knew that talent could be used even here in Arizona.

How to Wear Summer Dresses in Winter
1-Add a winter cape
2-Throw a sweater over top
3-Layer a sweatshirt under the dress
4-Pair with jeans and shrug
5-Skirt it and wear a blazer
6-2 dresses as one
7-Wear your overcoat as part of the outfit

If you don’t know by now, I tend to be cold except in the middle of summer here. And truthfully, I’ve shared that it does get chilly here during our winters. Most evenings cool down into the 30s and 40s which means the mornings are darn cold.

For some reason, the majority of dresses sold are sleeveless. I actually read an article about why that is and it has to do with making it fit a wider variety in that size range. Adding sleeves to a dress just adds in more fit points which can be challenging.

Besides this is a fabulous option for those of you jonesing to wear those summer dresses now but the weather doesn’t coorporate.

Cape over a summer dress

Cape: Hand knit by me~~Dress: Yishiqi~~ Boots: Mix. No 6-DSW

1-Add a Winter Cape

Since we just talked about capes, ponchos, and wraps, I figured that would be an easy start to this challenge of how to wear summer dresses in winter. Of course, any kind of winter cardigan or topper would create the same kind of traditional layering that we all are used to doing.

BTW, I knitted this cape. The true story is shared on my Instagram post about this piece because it actually started out as a sweater and it was too wonky. So I unknit, cut, and transformed it to be this faux fur-lined cape instead.

To keep with the winter theme, I paired my pink combat boots with the dress to give it a modern vibe. I also added in a third color of turquoise with the belt, flower on the cape, and earrings.

Posts wearing these items:
Wearing this dress by itself and with its self-belt in the summer
The cape is worn more casually

How to wear summer dresses in winter in Arizona

Dress: KLD~~Sweater: Givenchy-thrifted ~~ Boots: Jambu c/o ~~ Scarf: The Limited~~Glasses: Glasses Shop GSHOT35 for 35% off

Throw a Sweater over your Summer Dress

Now the idea of adding a non cardigan sweater over your dress, makes the dress appear as a skirt. It seems like such an obvious solution, but I remember hearing about it the first time and thinking how ingenious.
Personally, I always thought if I was wearing a dress, I need to wear a cardigan or jacket so you could see the entire dress. But that’s silly. Why not wear your dress as a skirt?

Posts wearing these items before:
Givenchy sweater is worn with many color combinations
This dress by itself and then the time I winterized it differently (Notice the bell sleeves of the dress. Don’t automatically assume you can’t wear them under other sleeves. I think mine worked wonderfully)
Boots being worn 5 different ways

Layer a sweatshirt under a dress on how to wear summer dresses in winter

Dress: En Focus-thrifted~~Sweatshirt: Gap~~ Boots: thrifted~~ Scarf: Handknit by my mom~~Glasses: Zenni Optical

Layer a Sweatshirt Under the Dress

Another great secret about layering is not only putting things “over” your dress but also under the dress.

I realized I hadn’t worn this sweatshirt in ages, and it almost seemed to match the dress. In fact, at first, my husband thought this was a long sleeve dress.
This dress was one of the 8 dresses I found at a local thrift store when we recently worked with the store. You can see all 8 of them in this short video.

BTW, I didn’t use the self-belt for this dress. Instead, I accessorized the look with white boots, a white belt, and a white feather scarf.

Insider tip: Even a hoodie sweatshirt could work with this trick. If you need ideas with hoodies, I wrote about 5 different ways to style them here.

Related posts about layering under a dress:
Wearing a white button-down under your dress
How to wear summer dresses in winter with turtlenecks

Jeans with a dress

Dress: Necessary Clothing- thrifted~~ Jeans: INC ~~ Shrug: Astr~~ Boots: Jambu c/o~~ Hat: Walrus ~~Glasses: Glasses Shop GSHOT35 for 35% off

Pair a Summer Dress with Jeans and a Shrug

Have you ever worn your dresses with jeans? We tried it once a long time ago and none of us were extremely pleased with the results. But I truly believe that it can work depending on the dress and the jeans.
It’s exactly the point I make that not all __________(fill in the blank) are created equal. So depending on the shape and silhouette of the items, it can make it good or not so good.

This dress is also from our recent local thrift store haul and the shrug is part of the 2-piece set I purchased recently (and you can see it together in Tuesday’s look here)
The dress isn’t EXACTLY a summer dress since it’s 3/4 length sleeves (see it by itself here in Wednesday’s look) but it did need some layers for warmth.

Insider tip: Basically for this option, think of your summer dress as a tunic and then make your outfit work that way.

As for the shrug, I’m seeing the look all over. The first time I saw one, I couldn’t imagine how it would be beneficial. But now I get it, plus when you see something over and over, it starts to look normal.

Layering a skirt over a dress

Dress: Toad & Co- thrifted~~Skirt: vintage from Suzanne’s Etsy shop~~Jacket: Ann Taylor-thrifted~~ Boots: Tahlia Sodi-Macys~~ Glasses: Zenni Optical

Transform the Dress into a Top

This is the option that most people just shake their heads at me when I describe it. Wear your dress as a top by layering a skirt over it.

If you ask me why the heck would I even want to do this, I think there are many answers. One is if you are looking for a top of a certain color to wear with a skirt but you don’t have one. YET you have a dress that color. I recently showcased this with my print tights. And that’s seriously why I wore the burgundy dress in that example.

Insider tip: If you ever have the thought that you have to be thin to do this trick, I dispute that and other myths in this post.

I did layer a jacket of the same color to cover the short sleeves of the dress. And then I just knotted a square scarf by folding it in half diagonally and rolling it into a tube.

Layering 2 dresses together

Floral Dress: LOFT-thrifted~~Navy Dress: Charming Charlies ~~ Boots: Nordstrom- thrifted~~ Glasses: Liingo

Layering 2 Dresses Together

Since our summer dresses tend to be more colorful than our winter dresses, why not layer the summer one over a winter one? This is the first time I’ve ever thought to do this and it was such an “aha” moment.

I took this floral sleeveless dress and used it as decoration over a plain, navy sweater dress. I wore charcoal grey tights and my green cowboy boots to finish off the look.

Insider tip: Don’t rule out this idea before trying it. I bet you could come up with some fabulous options. Even if the dress underneath hangs below the summer dress. That kind of detail could be wonderful.

Post wearing the navy dress alone:
Funeral outfits

Wearing your overcoat as part of your outfit

Coat: Banana Republic Factory ~~Dress: ASOS-thrifted ~~Boots: Thalia Sodi-Macys~~ Bracelet: Made by my mother~~ Earrings: Heartland Jewelry by Judy~~ Purse: thrifted~~ Glasses: Glasses Shop GSHOT35 for 35% off

How to Wear Summer Dresses in Winter with a Coat

The last but not least option of how to wear summer dresses in winter is to wear your coat as a layer. Sure, you may put your coat over top of your dress all the time, but we always think we have to remove the coat when we go inside.
Well, I figured, you can wear your overcoat as a long blazer or jacket, and NOT take it off.

BTW, the reason I came up with this idea is that it’s exactly what I ended up doing. This green dress may have long sleeves but it’s thin and not very warm. Therefore when I wore it out for my birthday celebration, it was too cold inside the restaurant to remove my jacket. Therefore, I made this coat part of my outfit.

Posts wearing this coat with a different outfit:
Why you need a colorful coat

7 Options of how to wear summer dresses in winter

Photo credit: Rob Filogomo

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