Mary Lou Andre
Monday, 21 August 2017

The Shoulder Season: Successfully Transitioning your Wardrobe from Summer to Fall

By Mary Lou Andre

The term “shoulder season” is most used by travelers and golfers. It marks the time between peak and off-peak seasons, especially spring and fall. When I heard Kathy Smith on our stylist team use the term with clients looking to transition their wardrobes for early fall, I quickly adopted it as a firm concept. It works!

Below, we share 5 easy ways to help you navigate the tricky “shoulder season” for yourself. While the rules for what to wear after Labor Day have changed over the years, we hope these tips will give you a fresh take on what is definitely acceptable this season.

#1 Get Your "Blue" Jeans On

While jeans are certainly a year-round staple for many, there is something about fall that is made for blue jeans. Even though it's no longer a faux pas to wear white jeans into fall, I personally start to pack mine away right around Labor Day. Darker rinse jeans with dark stitching (as opposed to jeans with a whiter wash to them) are how we help clients easily move from summer to fall with denim. Yes, skinny jeans are still popular. Newer shapes for jeans this season include slouchy and wide-cropped styles. Higher waists also abound.

#2 Put an Olive on It
Once that first, crisp fall day arrives, I crave rich, autumn colors in my wardrobe. Over the years, I have satisfied my craving by amassing a collection of olive green clothing and accessories that mix and match well with one another. Olive clothing also coordinates well with black and brown footwear, adding to its appeal. Extra tip: While I pack away my white and bright linens after Labor Day, I do continue to wear darker linens through the fall. An olive linen blazer and olive linen drawstring pant are among my all-time favorite fall pieces that work year-in and year-out. I always wear them as separates and update the footwear I pair with each to keep them current.

#3 Animal Prints, Please
With their inherent warm markings, animal prints are another way to transition your wardrobe from summer to fall. For instance, a black sheath summer dress can get an appropriate fall punch with animal print pumps. Animal print cardigan sweaters are a great way to add a layer of warmth over many items that were worn solo all summer. We also love mixing red with traditional brown-based animal prints. A large animal print tote may be all you need to add a fun fall vibe to your wardrobe. As with most prints, don’t go overboard. Head-to-toe animal print outfits will make you stand out, but probably not in the best way!

#4 Crop Pants
I rarely cover my legs completely until October first. Crop pants are my go-to casual and work pant when I want to cover my legs a bit more than classic skirts and dresses allow. The trickiest part of wearing the crop pant trend of the moment is choosing your footwear. Block heels, slides, espadrilles and a variety of footwear with ankle straps are good ways to balance the pant hem while keeping the look modern and fresh. Extra Tip: Both closed-toe and open-toe shoes, booties and sandals work with cropped pants through fall. If you live in an area with a seasonal temperature change, bare legs in general are fine through September (and into October when if stays warm—common sense rules!) Please read our blog “Is Hosiery History” for our point of view on all things hosiery.

#5 The Cold Shoulder Sweater
Finally, it’s hard to give dressing tips for the “shoulder season” without giving a nod to the “cold shoulder” trend that is still going strong. If this trend is for you, add a few lightweight sweaters with an exposed shoulder. Part warmth and part air conditioning, they are a perfect blend of style and function for the varying temperatures that abound during this tricky dressing season!

Editor’s Note:

Special shout-out to Kathy for being the inspiration for this fun (and timely!) blog.  We love when she shares her professional experience (which includes positions at Saks and Talbots) along with the associated “trade” terminology that was part of her day-to-day dialog with all of us, and now with you! Thanks, Kathy!

Need help transitioning your wardrobe for the season ahead? We are here to help. Both in-person and virtual consulting appointments are available. We welcome an opportunity to assist you!

Click to Share:

About the Author

Mary Lou Andre

Mary Lou Andre is a nationally recognized wardrobe, dress code and corporate image consultant, speaker and author. She is founder and president of Organization By Design, Inc., a Needham, Massachusetts-based wardrobe management, fashion and image consulting firm that helps individuals and organizations understand the power of being appropriately dressed in a variety of situations.

Learn more about Mary Lou » 

Related items

  • Summer Shoe Style

    As we all get ready to “step” into summer, today’s topic is summer shoe style!

  • Fall Closet Refresh: 5 New Styles to Embrace (& 5 to Put Away!) Now

    With so many changes happening in fashion (and our world) right now, it’s a good time to shift your wardrobe a bit too.

    As many of us continue to work from home and practice more casual lifestyles, we hope a few of these ideas resonate with you and make it easier to dress with purpose without totally giving up on style as we continue to get through these challenging times.

  • 5 Cool Weather Staples to Bring Stability to Your Closet & Your Life

    With cooler temperatures heading our way (and so much uncertainty still in the air), one area of your life that is relatively easy to get under control while giving you a quick boost of confidence is your wardrobe.

    Yes, life is still fairly casual for many of us but there is something to be said for dressing up a notch as we embrace fall routines with as much normalcy (and poise!) as possible. Here are a few ideas that are as simple to implement as they are fun and easy to wear – enjoy!

  • 5 Ways to Relax Your Summer Style During a Pandemic

    News flash: Summer is not canceled. It’s actually just heating up!

    Yes, many weddings, vacations and other fun plans have been put on hold, but there are still plenty of long days, warm temps, people to safely see, restaurants to get back into the black, and porches to hang on that do require that you at least get partially dressed and presentable. Unless you want it to, your style doesn’t have to go on vacation this summer.

  • From the Streets of NYC: 5 Fab Fall Trends to Wear Now

    Just back from a quick weekend trip to NYC and wanted to share 5 fresh street trends that caught my eye. It is fashion week after all! Each style can be worn now to navigate the tricky fall transitional dress season.


Maryanne 2017-08-22 11:02

Mary Lou: I've been OLIVE obsessing the last few weeks and have purchased shoes, tops and sweaters all in this color. So glad I'm on point! I definitely enjoy reading your columns while living out in Silicon Valley; it's like a giant east coast hug!

Mary Lou 2017-08-22 12:06

You always make me smile Maryanne!
I bet you are rocking the olive. Thanks for keeping in touch. We will rendezvous one day!

Fabienne Madsen 2017-08-24 07:45

Hi ML,

Thanks for the blog and great style tips. I will need to get some olive this season.



Mary Lou 2017-08-24 09:14

I bet you look great in olive! We got a great response to this blog. Thanks for being in touch. See you this fall -- hopefully on the hill!
Mary Lou

Pat 2017-08-27 10:22

Oh, Mary Lou, olive and leopard, you are a girl after my heart (and coloring)! You are so fortunate to live in the most beautiful, color inspired, place in the world during transition season.. New England fall colors make me glow (you too).
Thanks for the reminder to update my olive collection...
You are the best,
A faithful fan,

Mary Lou 2017-08-28 09:39

Hi Pat --
Glad you like our tips! Yes, NE is indeed special this time of year. It is a crisp, cool day today -- will be breaking out the autumn attire and colors for sure!
Thanks for staying in touch -- appreciate you!


Add comment