4 In Getting Dressed/ Series

Dressing for transition: Tips & Tricks

Wearing flannel with flats

Wearing flannel with flats


I called my friend Patricia yesterday in Duluth, Minnesota. “It snowed here today!” she said. She’d been working outdoors and it took her hours to warm up when she got home.

Snow in April. The calendar and the weather are at odds and our wardrobes are confused! Is it spring? Is it winter? What is it?

Back here in Sonoma, last Monday on Easter Sunday, pastel frocks were less appealing than cashmere and layers. Brr! It was cold!

Even though we had a taste of spring weather last month, we can’t count on it to be consistent. My clients’  closets and my own are hanging in limbo. There are some clothes just aching to be worn when the weather is warm enough put it’s not time yet to dismiss those precious work horses that helped us through winter months. We still need our down, cashmere, tights, and more.

The trick is to press the fashion refresh button and find a way to honor the weather and the calendar month even if we have to fake it until we make it to warm sunshine.


How? Dress for transition, this middle season that for some of us goes on longer than other seasons.

In truth, when it comes to fashion, transition is my favorite time of year. I love fashion that’s just right for in-between seasons.


Adding a third piece gives me more warmth on a chilly spring day.

Adding a third piece gives me more warmth on a chilly spring day.

Here are three tips for getting fashion right, right now.

1. If one part of your body is warm, you can afford to lighten up on the other part.

My flannel shirt and a layering camisole under it keeps my torso warm in this sleeveless dress (above) that I turned into a jumper. My feet feel fine in flats. I don’t need to add the opaque tights or tall boots for some of these transition days. But if it were colder and I did add a boot, I’d sneak a wool sock on and not opaques just to keep the look lighter for April. Showing some bare skin somewhere-even if it’s merely at the ankles-will lighten up the look.

2. Add white somewhere.

My shirt has white in it so that lightens and brightens. I’m digging out my white jeans today and planning to wear them with a cashmere sweater in a lighter shade of gray. I’ll add a long silver necklace and some bangles shout, “Spring! I’ve got you in my sight!

3. Outerwear that looks lighter in color or weight can help you through the chilly mornings and evenings.

This coat of mine (below) is getting lots of use right now. It’s double breasted, has a fiberfill between the layers, is lightweight and white. It happily accompanies many of my pant outfits whether dressy-ish or casual. I wouldn’t say it’s got great hanger appeal, but trust me, it looks sharp in person. It replaces my menswear fabric coats that look more January than April.


A good transition piece

A good transition piece


As I create outfits for clients in this transitional time of year, I’m mostly focused on lightening the look up from at least the waist up. My clients still have some warmer knit jean cut bottoms, heavier jeans or black pants in their closets. In some cases we’ve changed out tall boots and replaced them with shorter ones, or dark ones are going into hibernation and we’re leaning on lighter ones when we’re going for the skinny bottom/tunic top/boots look. But we haven’t brought out any linen yet. Not here anyway. We’ll pull out the linen fabrics in May or June.

Can you celebrate April even if it’s snowing outside? You can if you try a few of these tips and tricks. You can still be warm while looking like you got the memo that spring has sprung.

Do you love this time of year like I do? What are some of your tricks and tips?


Stay tuned: More tomorrow on transition dressing! Enjoy!


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  • Reply
    April 13, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    It’s wonderful seeing your beautiful smile again. Welcome back!!
    I spent the first half of my life in Mendocino county and fully understand, and sympathize with you about the weather in Northern California. Now, living in the coastal zone of Southern California (for the last 30 years), the only problem I have with the weather is how to create a season-less wardrobe. Ha, learning how to be stylish just never ends!!
    Your generous, knowledgeable suggestions are so appreciated.
    A faithful fan,

    • Reply
      April 13, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      So true, Pat. I was thinking about people who don’t live in California and how the name “California” conjures up beaches and bikinis. But Northern California is so different from Southern California. I’ve lived in both PLUS the central coast so I’m pretty sensitive to the changes. I actually quite like that “learning to be stylish” never ends. Some people are happy in their gardens. I’m happiest fooling around with clothes so I appreciate people like you who enjoy it too! Thanks, Pat!

  • Reply
    Kathie Adams
    October 15, 2019 at 6:12 am

    I have happily lived 30 miles south of Duluth for 23 years now, & am finally getting the hang of how to layer. It is truly an art form & you have taught me well. My closet is made up of pieces that can play well with others! Over, under, hidden. It adds warmth without bulk. I sometimes start planning an outfit from the outside layer in!

    • Reply
      October 17, 2019 at 10:04 am

      I like the idea of planning an outfit from the outside in! Okay, when I visit my friend in Duluth (which probably won’t be the wintertime), I’d love to meet you!

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