How to look chic during a fall heatwave

If you read any fashion blogs written by denizens of the South-Western states you’ll know that “how to wear fall-inspired clothing in an area where fall weather is more like summer weather” has been a popular topic of late. It’s prudent in a warm climate like the one we enjoy here in Los Angeles to never remove ALL your summer clothing from one’s wardrobe in the autumn months.  My closet is miniscule, so I have to change things around from season to season, but I always leave in a few warm weather pieces that look like they might belong in autumn.   This maxi dress is a great example of the sort of thing that’s good to have tucked away for when the weather warms up, and oh has it ever!  It’s mid-October and it’s been in the 90’s all week.  As I write this it’s slowing creeping up to 100 degrees farenheit outside.

I wore this outfit for an afternoon barbecue party in my mother-in-law’s back yard. It was a glorious warm day, but I added a little scarf around my neck and wore my brown kitten heel sling-back sandals to add a bit of fall flair. In the evening it started to cool down so I threw a big red shawl over the ensemble.

Tips for looking great during a fall heat wave

Be forewarned. If you live in an area where the autumn months are warm, keep your eyes open in the spring and summer for lightweight dresses and separates in colors and prints that will take you through fall.  This spring the “tribal” trend was hot, and it would look just as good in October as it did in March.

Be prepared. Even if you like to update your closet every season the way I do, always leave a few lightweight dresses in the mix so you don’t swelter on days the thermometer goes through the roof. Back in June I wore this maxi dress for the post “My Favorite Things” , but the colors work in autumn as well.

Consider non-traditional options. Don’t despair if you have nothing to wear and all you can find at the stores are coats and fur vests. Consider picking up some knit camisoles in fall colors, or even check out the nightgown area for cute, lightweight, knit “dresses” in this season’s colors that can be worn right now. (My “Missoni for Target” nightgown has been one of my “go to” dresses this week.  It’s lightweight and the colors are perfect for fall.) Although I find them to be a tad picked over at this point, you can always try shopping the sales to see what you find.

Accessorize for fall.  It might be too hot to wear tweed, leather and fur on your body, but you can indulge in the colors and textures of autumn with your accessories. A brown leather purse thrown over your shoulder will make you feel like it’s October not July. Wear sandals in the colors of falling leaves. Tie a chiffon scarf around your neck for a bit of the layered look. Choose jewelry with smokey stones and dark metal.

Update your nails. Try one of the fun new fall colors for your nail polish. Taupe was all the rage last year but it still looks unusual in an elegant way.  Dark orange, deep red, dark blue or green all say “I’ve fallen for fall!”  Since I’m still wearing sandals pretty much everyday I treat my feet as nicely as I do my hands, scrubbing them with a pumice in every shower and keeping my pedicure fresh with a new coat of polish every few days. Sonia Kashuk makes a collection of long wearing nail polish in trendy colors.  Check out her new fall collection including this fun blue “taunting teal” and dark red “Stop Whining”.

Wear minimal makeup. When it’s too hot for foundation wear a nice tinted moisturizer instead, with SPF of course!  (I love Neutrogena’s Ageless Intensives® Tone Correcting Daily Moisturizer SPF 30.) Dab a little concealer under your eyes, define your eyes with some waterproof mascara (I like Maybelline’s The Colossal Volume Express waterproof mascara.) brush on a peachy blush, and set it all with a bit of powder. For a very soft look finish with a dark pink gloss, or add some drama with a red or berry color lipstick.

Seek out air-conditioned buildings.  When I was little my mother’s favorite heat-wave activity was a matinée and any movie theatre.  When I was a teenager I would head to one of the many indoor malls for some window shopping during the hottest time of the day.  Now I’ll often spend time at the library looking through books in the cool, air-conditioned environment. Be sure to pack a pashmina in your purse to wrap around you if it gets too cold!

This maxi dress works equally well in spring or fall

An embellished scarf makes me feel like I’ve done a bit of fall layering.

Dark green and bronze earrings add a touch of autumn

I always carry a pashmina to wrap around me if the evening is cool or the AC is overwhelming.

  • Pashmina – a gift
  • Earrings – Target
  • Sunnies – Fendi
  • Dress – Hale Bob
  • Sheer off-white scarf – Nordstroms
  • Purse – Thrifted
  • Bracelets – Power Band (They’re supposed to reduce stress and improve energy.)
  • Sandals – Nine West

What do you wear in a heat-wave?  Do you have any tips I didn’t mention?




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14 Responses to How to look chic during a fall heatwave

  1. brookemeagan October 14, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Great tips Heather! Your maxi dress is gorgeous and so versatile. It’s great for summer, but the colours make it so lovely for fall. I also love the idea of playing with fall nail polish and accessories. I don’t think there’s any chance I’m going to be experiencing a heat wave any time soon. The temperature is supposed to dip below freezing this weekend. So, I’ll definitely be packing an extra pashmina or three for when the sun goes down! xo
    brookemeagan recently posted..Sticks and StonesMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 14, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

      Oh my gosh it’s going to be below freezing where you are! Wow. It’s in the high 80’s here right now, but that’s pretty usual for this time of year.

      I look forward to seeing some REAL fall looks on your blog soon!


  2. Dress Code: High Fashion
    October 15, 2011 at 3:11 am #

    A summer dress with fall print! Great!
    (I think the scarfs are “too much though” – a wooden necklace would be better).

    Have a nice weekend, dear.

    Best, Jen
    Dress Code: High Fashion recently posted..Best of recent celebrity red carpet gownsMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 17, 2011 at 9:29 am #

      Oh you’re probably right, but I don’t have a wooden necklace!

    October 15, 2011 at 9:30 am #

    You look classy and amazing!
    THE-LOUDMOUTH recently posted..RAW / Giveaway Winners + Thank YousMy Profile

  4. Alexis of NorthOnHarper October 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    I am in the process of switching my closet around right now… and I couldn’t agree more- you have to have those few pieces that can at the very least “appear” autumn. I am not a big fan of wearing the same looks in autumn as I did in summer, so I am conscious to change some of the styling to make it seasonally relevant.
    Alexis of NorthOnHarper recently posted..Emerging EmeraldMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 17, 2011 at 9:30 am #

      It’s not easy to make summer things look wintery, but what can we do when it’s 100 degrees in October? I think the worst might be over now, but you can never tell for sure.

  5. Paula October 15, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    Just caught up on your postings from last week–wow–what great photos!
    You are right about the maxi dresses–great choice for a fall feel! We dont have the issue of hot falls here in NE (Im jealous)
    Love your take on biz casual.
    Paula recently posted..Down by the RiverMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 17, 2011 at 9:32 am #

      Thanks Paula! I know not everyone has these seasonal dress problems. I do wish I lived somewhere where the weather acted in a traditional fashion. Oh well! I’ll just have to wait to wear my faux furs!

  6. SACRAMENTO October 16, 2011 at 7:22 am #

    You look really gorgeou. I can see the model in you.
    the colours of that dress are so up my alley.
    Have a wonderful Sunday, dear Heather.
    SACRAMENTO recently posted..Mary Katrantzou Inspiration in a Flea MarketMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 17, 2011 at 9:33 am #

      Thank you so much! I’m very glad you like my look.

  7. anne m bray
    December 24, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    I am sketching this NOW!
    anne m bray recently posted..Spygirl wants you to meet: The Style Confessions™My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca December 24, 2011 at 11:56 am #

      Oh you’re so sweet! I can’t wait to see your artistic impression of the photos.