With more and more warm days in the forecast, most of us are excited to say goodbye to winter layers for the next six months. But between cold fronts, rainy days, and brisk breezes, it’s still a bit too early to leave the house in only a sundress and sandals.
While you probably can’t wait to wear spring’s colors, fabrics, and styles, you also aren’t eager to freeze (or maybe fry!) in the name of fashion. Since there isn’t a specific day when we “officially” switch from cool to warm temperatures, your best bet is to approach the seasonal transition with an eye toward versatility and comfort.
Here are a few tips to help you navigate the winter-to-spring wardrobe transition in style:
Update your closet in bite-sized chunks. If you keep your warm-weather clothes in another closet, pull out cotton pants, blouses, and light sweaters so that you can begin to work them into your rotation. Meanwhile, switch out the heaviest fabrics—such as tweed pants or skirts and thick cashmere sweaters—to make room. (Remember, if you can’t easily see a great spring piece, you won’t wear it!) As the weather begins to warm up, you can continue to switch out a handful of items each day or week.
Also, use this seasonal clothing swap as an opportunity to clean out your closet. Instead of putting armloads of winter wear into storage without a second thought, carefully consider which pieces no longer fit, are damaged or worn, or simply don’t honor your style or lifestyle. Repair, donate, or throw them away as appropriate. (Take a look back at this post and this post for more in-depth information about how to clean out your closet.)
Wear fabrics that are comfortable in a variety of temperatures. When it comes to keeping you comfortable in spring’s wide range of temperatures, not all fabrics are created equal. Aim for materials that aren’t paper-thin, but are still breathable.
I keep my lightweight wools in my closet 10 months of the year and have even worn these pants in the summer on cooler days. Lightweight wool pants, skirts, and blazers are great investments, not only because of their flexibility between seasons, but because they are durable, flattering, and travel well. Also, keep your eyes open for several other hardworking fabrics in addition to the standard cotton and wool: viscose, Lyocell, and polyamide with elastane. These blends wear well and are suitable for both warm and cool days.
Identify cold-weather staples that can pull double duty. If you’re like most women, your winter wardrobe contains plenty of items in neutrals like black, gray, navy, and khaki. While you may be sick of wearing your black slacks with jewel-tone blouses and sweaters, for instance, don’t forget that pieces like these can easily be lightened up when they’re paired with “springier” fabrics and colors.
While you’re waiting to wear sundresses and sheerer fabrics, mix up your neutrals with white, cream, or one of many pretty accent colors like aqua, mint, or coral. A splash of color can give winter workhorses a whole new lease on life!
I wore this leather jacket in place of a coat in March on an unseasonably warm day. The following week, I was back in my warm coat, scarf, and gloves!
Don’t get caught in the rain or be left out in the cold. Spring is known for its mercurial temperature changes. And who doesn’t know what it’s like to be caught in a sudden rain shower? Leave the house prepared for Mother Nature’s fickleness with a leather jacket if it’s going to be sunny or a tailored raincoat if it’s not (I’m a big fan of hooded raincoats).
Both of these options are stylish, but won’t feel too bulky if you need to take them off and fold them over your arm. And don’t forget a lightweight scarf that coordinates with your outfit. It can fill multiple roles as an eye-catching accessory, a wrap to drape around your shoulders, or even a barrier between your hair and the rain. Animal print scarves add interest to your look in any season, and florals in particular are popular this spring.
My husband gave me this russet raincoat for my birthday. (He has a good eye!) It’s microfiber with a button-out vested liner. I had no idea how much I needed it until I started wearing it!
Get ready for more foot traffic. Sick of your winter boots but not quite ready to venture out in strappy sandals? Plan to enjoy the warmer(ish) weather in a “dress flat.” I recommend low heels by Diane B. to many of my professional clients because they’re comfortable to walk in and still look great with pants, skirts, and dresses. These shoes are made in Italy, and around 15 varieties are offered each season. (If you’re interested in purchasing a pair and live in New York City, I highly recommend working with Emilio at Diane B.’s Lexington Avenue location. You can contact him at 212-644-3526.)
For a casual look, ballet flats are always classic. If you’re planning a spring shopping trip (or simply shopping your closet), look for camel or nude flats in a matte or patent material. These tones will complement most outfits and don’t feel as heavy as winter’s dark colors. If you’d like your footwear to stand out a bit more, choose a metallic shade or even an animal print—both of which I consider neutrals!
I own four pairs of Diane B. dress flats and wear them all regularly with pants, dresses, and skirts.
Picture yourself in perfect layers. Especially when the weather is unpredictable, putting prior thought into what you want to wear is time well spent. Otherwise, it’s all too easy to rush out the door overdressed (or underdressed) for what you’ll find outside.
When I’m working with clients, I recommend that they take an hour and put together several layered looks that can be adapted on the fly. This could be a favorite lightweight wool blazer in navy to be worn over colorful jeans in coral, red, or even white. A cream t-shirt top or white blouse and scarf complete the ensemble. Once you’ve created a look you love, take a picture of it so that you can easily assemble it later when you’re in a hurry.
My white blouse, orange cotton pants, and ballet flats look great on their own, or layered with a navy blazer and coordinating scarf.
Don’t forget your skin, lips, and nails. These are also an important part of your overall image, and can help you “face” the new season with a spring in your step! Stop by your local department store and ask to see new lipsticks. Just be sure not to choose a shade based solely on its trendiness; it should also be flattering to your skin and hair. (Lipstick should “lift” you, not make you look sick.) For instance, if you always wear warm tones in clothing and makeup, a “cooler” pink lipstick may not be the best choice.
The same goes for your nails. The next time you book a manicure or purchase a polish, choose a shade that will lighten your look and your mood. You might want to consider one of Pantone’s pretty pastel colors of the year: Rose Quartz or Serenity. Finally, remember to wear sunscreen and/or a tinted moisturizer with SPF to protect your skin. While it may not feel that hot, the sun’s rays can still do a lot of damage. (And yes—you have my permission to use sun damage as a reason to buy a new pair of oversize sunglasses!)
Before you know it, you won’t have to say, “Looks like it will be cold today” for months. But while the weather’s still unpredictable, plan to shake off the winter blahs with a carefully curated look that fits the temperature, this season’s trends, and your personality!