Long, flowing skirts have become summer staples for many of us. They offer a breezier alternative to pants, help mix up your warm-season wardrobe and elegantly conceal unshaven legs. But there's no need to store your maxi skirts and dresses until next May. These chic, contemporary skirts and dresses can be worn into fall and even winter. In fact, they can become real wardrobe workhorses. Here's how:
LAYER IT ON
Top your summery maxi with a fall-worthy layer. If your favorite maxi is made from thin jersey, consider pairing it with a mid-weight wool sweater, a tweedy blazer or a cashmere cardigan.
Tops crafted from year-round fiber favorites such as cotton and silk can work, too, but consider wearing them over your maxi but under a heavier jacket or sweater.
PAIR WITH BOOTS
Sandals and flats look fresh for summer. Make your maxi feel autumnal by pulling on a pair of boots. Everything from thigh-highs to ankle boots will work. However, if you use a shorter boot, try layering with socks and hosiery.
For skirts that hit higher on the calf, consider boots that taper at the ankle and show the curve of your leg. (That will minimize "cankles," the columnar look that boots can sometimes lend to legs.) And remember, when you pair tall boots with a maxi skirt, your legs might be warmer than in a pair of slacks!
GO FOR MULTIPLES
If the weather is brutally cold, consider pulling on multiple maxis. Floor-length silk skirts can function as stylish slips when worn beneath more casual maxi skirts. In fact, almost any lightweight maxi skirt can slip beneath a maxi dress for added warmth and volume.
When layering, make sure to choose skirts with full or flared silhouettes. Layering slim maxis will likely lead to unsightly bunching. So long as your colors and textures coordinate, feel free to let a bit of the under-layer peek out at the hem for an arty look.
While pastel, bright-colored and floral-print maxis can work in fall and winter, maxis in darker tones will feel more natural. Black, brown and charcoal are versatile neutrals, but navy, eggplant and burgundy offer rich, colorful alternatives.
If you're working with a pale- or bright-colored maxi as the foundation of your outfit, be sure to add fall-inspired colors in the accessories.
WATCH THE WEATHER
Although long skirts and dresses offer comfy cold-weather coverage, they definitely are easier to wear in dry weather. Heavy rain, slush or wet snow will soak your skirt hem, making you look and feel miserable. Go for a maxi on a crisp fall day or a subzero January evening -- when the sidewalks and streets are well-plowed.
Sally McGraw is the Minneapolis-based author of Already Pretty (www.alreadypretty.com), a daily blog about the intersection of style and body image.