When the weather dips below 60 here in sunny San Diego, we are all reaching for the boots and puffer coats. Of course, many of my clients are also traveling to cooler places in the winter and have a need for true winter outerwear. It can be daunting trying to find the perfect piece though. As always, I'm here to take the stress out of getting dressed.
Consider your lifestyle.
If you're anything like me, you might ooh and ah over a fabulous winter white ankle-length cashmere blend coat. If you live like me though, you know that coat wouldn't survive the trip to the car, let alone actual winter weather. Be practical and think about what you're doing, where you're going, etc. It's a similar mindset to packing for a trip. Where are you going in that? What are you doing? Are you hiking? Walking to work? Touring NYC? Attending a conference? The answers will differ for each individual.
You may need three.
Once you consider your lifestyle, you may find you need three coats: one for travel, one for work, and one for active wear. The coat you wear to the office isn't the one you'll reach for to go hiking. Even for my fellow San Diegans, I recommend having three outerwear options. If you live in a place with more inclement weather, you may want five. Again, this depends on your lifestyle. If you work from home and don't leave the house much in the winter, two coats would suffice.
Skip the black option.
I've written before about black not being as versatile as we've been led to believe. It doesn't always pair well with navy, brown, other blacks. Even when paired with white, black can be unflattering against white due to the high contrast. Generally, black near the face has a tendency to wash people out. If you absolutely must have a black coat, add a pop of color through a scarf or turtleneck to brighten up.
Try an alternative neutral.
Instead of black, try winter neutrals for a more interesting look. In particular, I adore an emerald green, cobalt blue, or burgundy coat. These colors are flattering on most skin tones and look sophisticated rather than childish. They are also quite versatile and pair with well with both navy and black based looks. If you tend to gravitate towards neutrals in all clothing, try a light grey or camel.
Update your accessories.
If you adore your old coats but you're feeling a little bored, try adding new hats, gloves, and scarves to your winter wardrobe. Skip the pre-packaged box sets and create your own unique look mixing brands and fabrics. I like to choose one item with a pattern, like a scarf, and then select the two other items, pulling colors from that original pattern, to make my own set. See example above.
As you may remember, my summer uniform is a sleeveless dress and nude sandals. Since the morning have been cold lately, I've been reaching for jeans more often than I like. I have nothing against them. In fact, I love researching and finding the perfect pair of jeans for myself and my clients. Yet, I never feel as comfortable in jeans as I do in a dress. So, I decided to start fall by hunting for the best sweater dresses. I'm determined to make sweater dresses with ankle boots my fall uniform. Tights or leggings can be worn on the chilliest days here in San Diego. I'm also planning on throwing on a cropped jacket when it gets very cold here--you know below 60. As a bonus, several of these are currently on sale. Happy shopping!
CeCe Swiss Dot Knit Dress
CeCe Knit Dress, $119, available at Nordstrom and Macy's
Our first dress is this LBD from CeCe. It's a bit dressier than typical sweater dresses, making it perfect for work or evening. If you're feeling cold and bold, throw on a pair of colored tights. The fit is true to size.
Eliza J Mock Neck Sweater Dress
Eliza J Mock Neck Fit and Flare Sweater Dress, $76.80
Our second sweater dress is currently on sale and under $80. You may be wondering what the point of a sleeveless sweater dress is. The point is possibilities! You can layer a neutral turtleneck underneath and pair it with hoop earrings for a nod to the 90's trend. Or, you could pair it with a cropped, tan leather jacket. You could also throw on a trench coat. The key is proportion. Cropped jackets or coats that hit below the bottom of the hip work best. This dress does run a bit short, so if you don't like skirts above the knee, skip it.
DVF Wrap Sweater Dress
Diane von Furstenberg Wrap Sweater Dress, $256.80
Our next number is also on sale! For the woman with more professional wardrobe needs, this classic wrap dress from DVF can't be beat. The knit is luxurious and the dress is stunning in person. It may be too low for those with full chests. Of course, you can also throw a cami under this, if needed. This dress runs true to size and a little short.
Vince Camuto Sweater Dress
Vince Camuto Striped Sweater Dress, $76.80
When I first came across this striped dress, I thought it would only look good on a select few. However, it is surprisingly flattering on curvy women as well as those with straighter silhouettes. Can't you just imagine this with a cropped jacket and suede booties? What a cute, chic way to welcome fall (if it ever comes).
French Connection Body-Con Sweater Dress
FCUK Body-Con Sweater Dress, $98
In my college days, I spent a lot of time wearing French Connection. All of my favorite work and party dresses were from this line. I no longer own any French Connection pieces, mostly because they are no longer suitable to my lifestyle or shape. However, if you are young and/or fit, it is a great brand. The quality is there. It's evident in this gorgeous green sweater dress. I find French Connection runs small, more like junior sizing. This dress is also slightly sheer, so wear with tights or leggings. Enjoy, my flat-tummied friends!
J. Crew Striped Sweater Dress
For those looking for a looser fitting, casual option, this striped sweater dress from J. Crew is perfect. I love this one because it looks great on a variety of ages, body types, and works for nearly all lifestyles. The fit is true to size.
Free People Winter Sweater Dress
Free People Winter Break Sweater Dress, $148
This cute, mod inspired dress from Free People is as charming as it is cute. For those of you with more retro or bohemian tastes, this is a winner. Add red tights and a corduroy beret if you really want to lean in to the look. This one runs a little small, and short.
Free People On a Boat Sweater Dress
Yes, here is another great sweater dress from Free People. They truly excel at all things sweater-related. This is really more of an over sized sweatshirt than it is a dress, and that is why I love it. It's so slouchy and soft. You'll want to live in it. Leggings or tights are pretty much required with this one. It runs large. I still suggest ordering your regular size because that is how it looks best.
Ann Taylor Wide V-Neck Dress
Ann Taylor Wide V-Neck Sweater Dress, $129
Our final dress is from Ann Taylor. This is a great little number that can be worn for work or weekend. It is on the shorter side, so prepare to wear tights if you don't like skirts above the knee. Other than that, it's true to size.
With a busy fall on the horizon, this August I am taking a blogging break. I encourage you to take an end-of-summer break too, if you can. Take a few days, even a few hours, for yourself to rest up and recharge before fall madness begins. If you're craving some style advice in the meantime, I've rounded up my six most popular blog posts below.
My Top 6 Style Blog Posts
I am currently booking personal styling appointments from September 10 onward. I work with clients in person on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with limited availability on weekends. Please email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) to book, or visit the Work with Me page to learn more. Thank you!
I'm Jaquelyn Wahidi. I take the stress out of getting dressed. I'm a personal fashion stylist in San Diego. I help women organize their closets, define their style, and shop with intention. My blog features practical style advice for women everywhere. Addicted to blazers since 2004.