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How to Wear Your Summer Dresses in Winter 2012

You Don't Have to Pack Away Those Summer Dresses After All — Here's Why

We're about to double the number of Winter-wearable items in your closet without spending a dime — the secret? Keep your summery dresses where you can see them. That's right, if you haven't already packed them away, we've got a better idea for you: equip these lightweight numbers with the appropriate seasonal layers (soft, fuzzy cardigans, thick tights, booties, and slick outerwear); then there's no reason to pigeonhole these warm-weather pieces to a four-month window. For those on the fence about crossing tried-and-true dressing lines, we've got a star-studded lineup to make a strong styling argument and we're providing easy tips below. Just keep reading.

First up, an effortless-looking Keira Knightley put a cozy-layer spin on her paisley-printed sheath just by adding a long black cardigan, black tights, and black ankle boots. Next, Nicky Hilton edged up a sweet LWD with the help of a tough leather moto jacket, stud-embellished clutch, and yet another pair of ankle boots. And most recently, Amanda Seyfried was spotted in Tokyo promoting Les Misérables in a bright floral-printed dress, which she then cinched with a wider black belt and juxtaposed with black tights and black boots. If you think that this styling formula looks simple, that's because it is. Here are our four key pointers for keeping a little piece of Summer with you at all times.

  • If you want to save your cardigan for another rainy day, offset your lighter fare with your favorite cable-knit sweater or turtleneck on top. It will not only add a layer of warmth (a necessity), it also provides an instant play on textural contrasts.
  • Some Summer sheaths are a bit more billowy, so be sure to provide your shape with the definition it deserves. Our two preferred ways of cultivating a flattering silhouette? Cinch it with a darker leather belt (the wider, the better) or top off your dress with a fur vest, which contrary to what you might think, actually pulls in your dress to cut closer to the body.
  • Three words: cold-weather accessories. Just like the starlets above, you can't try your hand at even the prettiest Summer dresses if your legs and arms aren't covered. We suggest wool tights (or at the very least, an opaque iteration), leather boots (rain boots for inclement scenarios), and a jacket that actually traps the heat. Whether it's a structured leather jacket or an oversize felt car coat, it's all about injecting an overt Winter edge from the outerwear in.
  • For the more daring fashion set, you could go the dresses-over-pants route, and by that, we really mean, styling your favorite summery dress over a pair of ankle-cut trousers. It's definitely not a look that everyone loves (we do, though!), but if you're a fan, 'tis the season to try it on.
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