Layering in Warmer Climates

6 Sep

Most people assume that when you live in California you’re frolicking on the beach year-round.  Surely, there are plenty of Californians who ARE frolicking (or… lying) on the beach or BBQ-ing burgers in 80 degree Decembers, but that’s not necessarily true in San Francisco.  Fortunately for us, we’re about to head into the best weather in this area.  September and October generally explode with sunny weekends and mild temperatures, perfect for wine tasting weekends and bicycle rides.  Our transition to fall is less pumpkin, more picnic.

The downside to the mild temps are quick transitions from warm to cool, requiring very specific layering knowledge.  You want to incorporate pieces that are both warm enough to prevent major goosebumps and light enough that you can shed them if you walk eight blocks over and find completely different conditions.  Let’s discuss three different pieces: leggings, booties and third pieces (cardigans, light sweaters, jersey blazers).

The outfit on the left is one of my favorites: lightweight dress (H&M from a few years ago.  Check them out!  They have a super selection of very comfy and flattering dress styles that run $15-20.), Franco Sarto wedge sandals.)  I have worn this to drinks and dinners in this exact configuration and on super warm days I’ve even worn the dress with flat sandals to work.

The outfit on the right is the MAX layering option if you need to pile on the pieces.  (Same H&M dress, Old Navy jersey blazer, Target Mossimo leggings, Brilliant booties.)  For the most effective layering options, you want to be able to remove an item to achieve the right temperature.  Here I could remove the jacket and pull my hair back and still have warm legs.  If it’s not too breezy but I’m eating on a patio, I might shed the leggings and throw on some sandals.

Simple things to remember when shopping and dressing for transitional weather months:

– Pair leggings with a dress that’s a suitable length.  If you decide the leggings are too much, you’ll have the option to remove them- an option you won’t have in a tunic or mini.

– I wear a lot of black in general, but try to buy color dresses.  This makes it easier to buy third pieces in base colors, making them interchangeable.  I might have a rainbow of dresses, but each of those can either pair with a black or brown legging or cardigan while still looking great on its own.

– I clearly remember an October in New England where I wore ballet flats to dinner and got way too much sympathy walking the sidewalks (it wasn’t that cold, trust me).  My toes don’t get chilly, but if you’re worried about staying warm, steer away from open flats and buy a full shoe.  The boots pictured above are great year round since they’re very light, but cozy and waterproof.  I also love Converse or Jack Purcells if you either work in a more casual office or are just going to be running errands around town.  They’re comfortable, cheap-ish (you can usually find great sales on these in discount stores like TJ Maxx or Marshalls) and last forever.

– Look for thinner fabrics when buying third pieces.  This seems counterintuitive when planning for warmth, but buying a heavy sweater could just make you overheat or add unnecessary bulk to your frame.  If you’re too cold in a cardigan layered over a long sleeved dress, it’s probably time to move on to sweaters and such.

– Another (unpictured) option is to try a layering piece UNDER a dress.  If you have a dress that might look good layered (generally something sleeveless with a wider strap), try throwing a long sleeve t-shirt underneath and see what you think.

Am I missing your favorite transitional layering pieces?  Clue me in!  Californians get cold too!


8 Responses to “Layering in Warmer Climates”

  1. RA September 6, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    Scarves! They are my favorite, and I wear them in all seasons. Especially good for flights and going in and out of AC.

    • CharlieSue September 6, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      YES. Scarves! Can you please tell me more about them? I love them in theory, but I’m the type who just kind of leaves one hanging with my coat. I’d love to figure out how to fit them in better!

      • RA September 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

        Oh, man. You have unleashed the beast. Scarf rundown coming up!

  2. Becky September 6, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    I love the idea of buying clothes in lots of colors so that you can buy black/brown/gray leggings or tights to go with everything. Why have I never thought of that? So smart!

    • CharlieSue September 6, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

      I spent way too much money on cardigan colors that I could really only wear sparingly before figuring that one out… 🙂

  3. Rebecca (Bearca) September 6, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    This is a great post! Really good advice.

    A Californian Who Also Gets Cold

  4. Hillary September 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    I use these same tactics in Florida … and live for the days I can bust out tights. I’m with RA: Scarves are a major part of my wardrobe through our cooler months.

  5. Melissa September 6, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    Yes, a scarf instructional would be awesome. I have one pretty scarf I used to wear with my old winter coat, but since i’ve upgraded, I’d love to know how to wear scarves with real clothes 🙂

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