Maximize your maxi: Shift your wardrobe from summer to fall

Fall is quickly approaching, but don’t hang up your summer wardrobe just yet! One of the summer’s greatest hits—the maxi dress—can transition easily to fall. Choose a dress in a flexible color and shape, accent it with fall’s trendiest accessories and you’ll be sporting your maxi far into fall.

Choose transitional colors

Maxi dresses in summery colors or patterns, like waves and Hawaiian florals, will seem awkward and dated if they’re worn into the fall. Instead, transition pieces in more flexible shades. Neutrals and metallics are unfailingly good choices. As always, black is the most adaptable shade. You can also rock a dress in one of fall’s hottest hues, which include saturated colors like juicy tangerine, cobalt blue, smoky gray and golden chartreuse.

Add layers

Maxis are designed primarily for summer wear, so you’ll need to add a jacket or cardigan when the weather starts to turn colder. Choose thicker fabrics you can layer to create visual contrast with the thinner fabric of most maxis. Also, pay attention to proportions. Jackets and sweaters should be fitted and should end at your hip, creating the appearance of a slim waist and long legs. Great choices for layering include short, dark denim jackets and wool cardigans in unique knits.

Wear more substantial styles

Consider your maxi’s skirt before styling it for fall. Dresses with tiered or prairie skirts are inherently light and summery. Their flouncy style can be at odds with the heavier accessories, jackets and cardigans fall weather requires. These skirts can also add too much bulk when you’re already dressing in layers. Dresses with straight, simple lines are less distracting and more accommodating to the layering that defines this fall’s fashion trends.

Dresses with low-cut racer backs or plunging v-necks evoke images of warm summer days and prove to be difficult to wear in the fall. Styles with higher backs, relatively conservative necklines and thicker straps are the best choices for multi-season wear. These more substantial pieces will prevent your dress from looking out of place if you need to take off your jacket or cardigan.

Accessorize boldly

Start by adding a wide, gauzy scarf, which you can tie in multiple ways, in place of jewelry. If your maxi is done in a neutral color, you can use your scarf to incorporate one of fall’s trendy hues; an espresso maxi topped with a denim jacket and finished with a sheer tangerine scarf would be an autumn showstopper.

Replace your summery sandals with a pair of heavier boots that echo the tone set by your jacket or cardigan. Boots should have a low heel or be completely flat; high-heeled shoes appear overly formal with a casual maxi. Classic boots with little embellishment are the best choice. Remember, your footwear should complement your dress, not compete with it. Simple, low-heeled black boots add richness to your maxi and complete the bold, vibrant look you’ll see everywhere this fall.

Putting it all together

With thoughtful styling and the right accessories, your maxi will become a staple for both the summer and fall seasons. Start with a well-cut dress in a flexible color. Then, add a jacket or cardigan, a gauzy scarf and classic boots to update your dress with fall’s most exciting trends. You’ll be garnering compliments on your fashionable style throughout the fall.