5 Easy Ways To Make Your Favourite Summer Dress Work For Autumn

Don’t think you need to relegate your sunny day staple to the back of your wardrobe – here's how to make it work for the new season.

summer dress for autumn

by Frankie Graddon |
Updated on

Puff-sleeved midis, airy smocks, silky slips and modest maxis – thanks to fashion’s all-consuming love affair with dresses, the last three months have been a veritable celebration of the leg-liberating item. A festival du frock, if you will. Nary a sun-filled week has gone by without a new and oh-so covetable iteration hitting the shops.

I – along with every other woman I know – have gobbled these frocks up, relishing in their one-step dressing ease and versatility; you can wear them to the office, to the shops, the park, to dinner! Simply add a pair of summery sandals – be they barely there mules, K-Middy-style espadrille wedges or a leather thong (flip-flops, not pants) – and you’re good to go. Warm weather dressing nailed.

But as it's now September and sandal season is drawing to a close (sob) the question is, how do we wear our dresses now?

Fortunately, the world of fashion is a resourceful one and the answer to this particular sartorial conundrum presented itself during Copenhagen Fashion Week. Ditching their skimpy slip-ons, editors and street stylers rendered their floaty summer frocks autumn-ready by instead teaming them with altogether more substantial footwear; think chunky ‘Dad’ trainers, clompy biker boots and hefty hiking shoes. One part waft to one part clonk, the combination has proven to be the ultimate trans-seasonal style equation, extending the lifespan of our frocks for for months to come – hurrah.

When trying this at home, the key to success is to remember the following: the waftier the dress, the clonkier the shoe. The aim here is to ground that summer flipiness in something more solid – and, well, be able to wear socks. Here are five ways to do it...

The slip + dad trainer

slip dress with trainers in autumn

A true summer staple, the slinky slip dress chimes in perfectly with autumn’s mood for grunge, meaning it’s got plenty more style miles in it yet. While a clompy ankle boot might be the obvious seasonal switch-up shoe of choice (very Courtney Love) a fresher take comes by way of the robust ‘Dad’ trainer. Think sporty lace-ups with soles so chunky they could double as a doorstop. As well as giving you a little extra height, this pairing makes for a supremely comfortable combination – perfect for dress down Friday and weekend trips to the pub.

While several fash-packers are wearing brightly coloured styles (Nike’s MK2 Tenko and Adidas’ EQT Gazelles being particularly popular), a monochrome style gives more pairing options thanks to the versatile colour way.


The slip + dad trainer

Nobody's Child, Leopard Print Slip Dress, £391 of 2

Nobody's Child, Leopard Print Slip Dress, £39

KG Kurt Geiger, Trainers, £992 of 2

KG Kurt Geiger, Trainers, £99

The folksy maxi + western boot

floral dress with cowboy boots

Western boots are back for autumn in a big way having been seen on the catwalks at Louis Vuitton, Alberta Ferretti and Versace. The perfect accompaniment to those folksy, floral maxis we’ve been wearing all summer long, the revival couldn’t have come at a better time.

Keep the look refined rather than rodeo by choosing a pair of boots that have just a hint of cowboy about them.


The folksy maxi + western boot

Rixo, Patchwork Dress, £3251 of 2

Rixo, Patchwork Dress, £325

ayedu0113, Cowboy Boots, £3452 of 2

ayedē, Cowboy Boots, £345

The puff-sleeve + biker

puff sleeve dress with biker boots

When it comes to transforming an ultra-pretty puff-sleeved dress for new-season wear, you’ll need footwear that contrasts its cutsie appeal and with its tough-nut buckles and stompy appeal, the biker boot is just the ticket.

If your frock hits mid-calf or below then a taller biker boot will work wonderfully. For shorter hem lengths an ankle-length boot will offer a more flattering proportion. Try Hush’s Ripley boots and ear with bare legs now, adding tights when necessary.


The puff-sleeve + biker

Kitri, Puff Sleeve Dress, £1651 of 3

Kitri, Puff Sleeve Dress, £165

Hush, Buckle Boots, £2102 of 3

Hush, Buckle Boots, £210

COS, Puff Sleeve Dress, £793 of 3

COS, Puff Sleeve Dress, £79

The prairie dress + hiker

prairie dress with hiking boots

Having been a sartorial smash hit last autumn, hiking boots make a return for the new season and, when paired with a pretty prairie dress, chime in with the current fashion mood for all things cottagecore.

The high street is awash with affordable iterations; try Marks & Spencer for its chunky hikers with contrasting red laces. Accessorise with a pair of thick socks and a Fair Isle knit slung over your shoulders when yomping through open fields.


The prairie dress + hiker

Meadows, Prairie Dress, £2251 of 2

Meadows, Prairie Dress, £225

M&S, Chunky Hiker Boots, £452 of 2

M&S, Chunky Hiker Boots, £45

The Little Women nightie + platform plimsolls

ghost midi dress trainers

Last seen in Laura Ashley circa 1975, the ditsy-print nightdress has been one of the key looks of the summer and really has been since Greta Gerwig's interpretation ofLittle Women.

While Jo March and sisters might team their prim frocks with neat lace-ups, a classic white plimsoll makes for a far more contemporary combination and moves the look away from fancy dress. Look for a style with a platform sole for extra chunk.


The Little Women nightie + platform plimsolls

Ghost, Solene Dress, WAS £95 NOW £47.501 of 2

Ghost, Solene Dress, WAS £95 NOW £47.50

Kurt Geiger, Leopard Print Chunky Trainers, £1192 of 2

Kurt Geiger, Leopard Print Chunky Trainers, £139

READ MORE: Autumn Work Outfits That Will Make You Look Forward To Getting Back To The Office

READ MORE: These Rubber Boots Will See You Through The Unpredictable Summer Weather

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