Fashion and Fun after Fifty

How to Wear Layers for Unpredictable Fall Weather

Today’s guest post was written by Cathy Habas, and the timing is perfect, especially after my post on Wednesday featuring this Fall Fashion outfit from Chadwicks of Boston.

photo shoot at Glasgow Park

After a sweltering and often uncomfortable summer, fall brings welcome change. But fall can be unpredictable. The days are hot and the nights are cold. An unexpected breeze can bring on quite a chill. And if you live in a mountainous region, the differences in temperature become even more apparent depending on your altitude.

So if you have a long day ahead of you, you might find yourself in need of a warm outfit for the chilly morning and a summery outfit for the heat of the day. Factor in windy conditions, and you’ll need to bundle up even more.

keeping warm with a mug of hot cocoa

Don’t worry! There’s no need to change clothes in the middle of the day. With some smart layering of clothes, being comfortable is as simple as taking off or putting on a jacket. Let’s take a look at some ways to wear layers while still looking professional or trendy this fall.

But first and foremost, don’t forget to check the weather forecast! Take a look at the highs and lows, as well as the wind chill factor.

Start With Leggings and Socks

Choose some medium-weight leggings to keep the chill off your legs. Stay away from sheer tights, which wind will cut through like a knife, and from thermal leggings, which will turn you into a bucket of sweat. (In a pinch, you can always nip to the bathroom and take off your leggings if they are just too much.) Dark colors are always in style in the fall, like black, grey, brown, dark blue, maroon, olive or marigold.

If your toes tend to get cold, wear some socks over your leggings! You can even incorporate them into the outfit by having the sock cuff peek over the edge of your boots.

Add a Dress

The foundation of your layered outfit will be a dress. It’s a good idea to stick with a simple design and to not choose a busy pattern. Each layer of clothing that you add to your outfit will add a new color, texture, pattern and design. Unless all of your other layers are plain and you need some pizazz, keep the dress nice and simple, like a blank canvas. White dresses are perfect for layering, so don’t let that old “no white after Labor Day” saying lead you astray.

Loose-fitting dresses are preferable over body-con dresses so that you can let your body breathe a little when the weather warms up in the middle of the day.

what to wear in the fall

Try to stay away from dresses with cut-outs, little to no back coverage, deep necklines and too much shoulder exposure. It’s not that you’re trying to be overly modest, but rather a cool fall breeze will find every inch of bare skin (yes, even under a jacket!) and chill them to the bone. Take our word for it and leave the beach dresses in the closet.

Something cute and simple like the Ariana Mesh Shift Dress is perfect, but in the end, don’t overthink it. Choose whatever makes you feel comfortable and confident!

Add Something to Cover Your Shoulders and Arms

Some people like to wear long-sleeved shirts under dresses, but I find this to be a little stifling. After all, if you get too warm, you cannot remove the shirt very easily. However, wearing a long-sleeved shirt over your dress works out much better and makes it look like you’re simply wearing a skirt.

But I prefer to choose a jacket, cardigan or sweater for this layer. If you’re quite concerned about the cold, add a vest first for an additional layer of warmth.

Jackets that fall to your waist line are ideal so that the skirt of your dress has plenty of room to poof, twirl and flow. It’s also wise to choose a button-down instead of a pullover, so that you have the option of keeping it open when you feel warm, or buttoning up against the cold.

It’s even better if your jacket or cardigan has pockets! Sometimes wearing gloves is overkill, but that doesn’t mean your hands won’t get cold.


Add a Scarf

Choose your favorite scarf to keep your neck and chest extra warm. Scarves add a wonderful layer of protection on a windy day. Don’t opt for the mega-warm, knitted variety just yet. Silk scarves are okay, but Pashminas are even better. There are dozens of ways to tie them, so they can look like a work of art while also serving a practical purpose.

Final Touches

Consider wearing a beanie or other head-hugging hat, and don’t forget to pick out your favorite boots! Pick out your purse, add a couple chunky rings or earrings, and you’re all set. The scarf and jacket can be removed or added throughout the day as needed, and you should be able to always strike a balance between being too hot or too cold.

Coordinating all of these layers into an outfit that doesn’t look mish-mashed is part of the fun. But don’t be afraid to be bold! So neon green isn’t really a fall color; wear your favorite scarf anyway! Your clothes are an expression of yourself and should instill confidence in you. They are also one of the first things people will notice about you, so stay true to yourself for a great first impression.

Cathy Habas Cathy Habas is a Louisville-based freelance writer specializing in fashion, health and home improvement. She received her degree in English from Indiana University Southeast in 2014. Learn more about Cathy and get in touch with her at


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