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Confession: I’m totally an autumn girl.

I guess I suffer from the Goldilocks principle, as in I like things perfectly balanced. That same logic certainly applies when it comes to weather. I don’t like it too hot or cold—but just right. And autumn definitely falls within an acceptable margin. But there are those few months when facing extremely cold weather is inevitable and somewhat unbearable. Not only is it a bummer dealing with ice and blistering temperatures, but winter tends to wreak havoc on my closet. I stockpile bright and flirty dresses only to wear them a few times before fall and winter kick into overdrive. In the past, I would wave a sad goodbye to my summer standbys during those frigid months, embracing the fact that my outfits—no matter how stylish they were—would be hidden under some bulky winter coat. Surely I’m not alone in this struggle, right?

But now I’ve discovered through trial and error (and perhaps a bit of luck) that I no longer have to toss my favorite summer dresses when the temperature drops. If you have an undying love for dresses like I do, I can help you adopt cold-weather looks without abandoning them. Are you ready to give your summer wardrobe a new lease on life just in time for a climatic shift in season? It’s actually quite simple to keep your frocks from collecting dust in the back of your closet during winter. All you have to do is keep the two L’s in mind: layers and legs.

Winterize Your Coat

Even with all those layers, you’ll still need the right outerwear and footwear when you step outside and take those crazy gusts of wind head-on. Trendy and toasty, pea coats and trench coats are the best options when windchill becomes a factor. And I can’t forget about the benefit of wearing a chunky scarf for added flair and protection. Lastly, it’s all about the boots. Whether you choose heeled, flat, ankle-length, mid-calf or knee-high boots, you can rest assured they all look great with dresses. Pair your summer tunic or shirtdress with tall riding boots for a fail-safe and chic combo on chillier days.

Master the Layers

The key when transitioning your summer dresses into fall and winter is fit. You can’t effectively layer clothing if your dress is too tight. Now that it’s clear body-con type dresses should get the axe when it comes to layering, let’s start with the basics. Cardigans, sweaters and blazers are the easiest to layer with dresses. Prefer to keep things casual? Cardigans and sweaters are the way to go. For more formal dresses or office appropriate wear, fitted blazers are great for getting all dolled up.

Not only are cardigans and sweaters cozy and comfortable, but they also go with just about anything. With various styles ranging in different lengths, colors and textures, you can have your pick of the lot to wear over dresses. During winter, I love to wear a long button-up cardigan that extends past my waist over my dresses because it creates a totally new ensemble, giving the illusion of wearing a top and skirt instead of a simple dress. For bonus style points, you can wear a skinny belt at the waist over your sweater or cardigan to create a flattering shape.

Of course, there are other options for layering. Turtlenecks, knit or cotton tops and collared shirts can do wonders when transforming your summer dresses into winter-wear. A thin turtleneck in a solid color has the power to up the style ante on strapless summer dresses. If you’re not big on turtlenecks, a third-quarter sleeve knit top is a great alternative for layering over or under your dresses. My personal favorite, though, is a collared shirt. Fashionable and functional, collared shirts are perfect to wear under or over a dress without diminishing my tiny frame.

Cover the Legs

Legwear isn’t an option when it comes to wearing dresses during the winter. In fact, you’ll look a bit silly (albeit daring) without something covering your legs. As long as it’s not terribly cold outside, you can either rock a pair of black, patterned or funky colored tights or knee and thigh-high socks. Think schoolgirl uniform but way more sophisticated and sexy. I’m not a big fan of leggings, but winter is the one time I’ll bend the rules and wear them under my dresses and long sweaters. After all, they’re sturdier and slightly warmer than tights—and keeping warm still reigns over looking stylish while freezing in my book.

Regardless of rain, sleet or snow—you don’t have to sacrifice style. You can absolutely keep your dresses in heavy rotation year-round, no matter the season or temperature. All it takes to repurpose and prolong the life of your summer pieces is a little creativity in layering and coverage. Trust me. Your legs will thank you for it.

How do you style your summer dresses in fall and winter?