Transcending Seasons: What's in your closet?

During Sterling's challenge last month of wearing seldom worn items, I realized that most were limited in their usefulness because of climate...they are too warm to wear during the long summers and too cold to be comfortable in winter. Although I change out most of my closet 6 times a year, I long for more wardrobe items that transcend the seasons. I have a few:
Tops:
*. Tanks, cotton and silk. They are a base layer in winter for warmth and a summer top in hot weather and layer with a topper in between.
*. Sheer long sleeved pieces like SweetPea mesh tops and silky shirts. They can be worn with a tank or long-sleeved thermal layer, even wool in winter.
*. Button down shirts. They can be layered under a pullover sweater or even serve as a summer jacket worn open.

Pants:
*. Light weight knits, twill and denim with a skinny silhouette. They can be worn with long silk underwear or tights in winter and rolled to ankle or even capri length for summer and worn as is in between.
*. Light weight fashion joggers

Colors: light and dark neutrals, metallics, olive

Prints: animal from leopard to lizard and snake, stripes

Footwear: toe coverage...D'Orsay, basic pumps, fashion sneakers, anything that can be worn with or without socks.

what do you have that works for multiple seasons?

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30 Comments

  • milehighstyle (Linda) replied 1 year ago

    I used to switch out my closet more often, but now I keep some "all season" clothing in there all the time and just have a warm weather/cold weather switch out (usually April and October).  The things that stay all the time: 

    long sleeved shirts and blouses - can roll the sleeves in the summer and layer over in the winter.

    closed toe shoes - work with or without hosiery, with or without a pedicure.

    sleeveless and short sleeved ponte dresses, mid-weight skirts and jackets, wrap dresses - wear with different layers for different seasons

    jeans - although in the high summer, I really only wear them when the sun does down. 

    short sleeved tee shirts - can use for layering in the winter, alone in the summer

    tanks and camis

  • Isabel replied 1 year ago

    This has been one of those elusive dreams for me.  But there are extremes here that I simply cannot make "do" with transcendence.  My summer button downs are ver light weight. I love to wear them with no camisoles when it is 100 degrees out.  But they are just too light for other times of the year.  Though in later spring I will wear a cami , even a light merino wool one.  But there is no way that the button downs would add anything but color another time of the year. They would have no actual clothing function.  : )

  • unfrumped replied 1 year ago

    I have found that I' m not doing so great with typical layering, but sometimes it's the items that are the right fabrication to be somewhat cozy in cool (not frigid) weather, but somewhat absorbent in warm (not tropical) weather, such as thick cotton or linen knitwear or thin merino knits. Thin merino cardigans count, too.

    The hardest items are silky poly blouses--technically I can wear them more that folks who run hot, but they're actually surprisingly too "chilly" in air-conditioning a lot of times, then are sticky outdoors when temp and humidity rise. So I am learning to be very selective about these--they need to fit some particular wardrobe hole--maybe a high-low shirttail hem that creates a FFBO pants outfit, or the perfect color and drape for a jacketed suit look.  However, for longsleeves I am going to try my new featherweight cotton undershirt for insulation.

  • Ginger replied 1 year ago

    Hmm.

    This totally depends on whether season = time of year, or season = weather that corresponds with a certain season.

    Virtually nothing I have can be worn regularly year-round, aside from basic shoes (closed-toe pumps and flats) and basic skirts and underclothing.  The temperatures vary too much.

    But aside from summer (3-5 months) when heavy clothes just won't work, conceivably anything can be worn at a given time of year.  I've been comfortable in shorts and tees on random days from December through February, and I'm cold-natured.  Different Septembers I can be wearing a heavy coat or still wearing shorts in upper 90s heat.  In April and May, days may be in the upper 80s and into the 90s but we're wearing coats and blankets while watching baseball games in the wind at night.  I remember record-setting dates in the upper 90s one February, and new leaves being caught by arctic cold fronts.  It just varies so much throughout the year that despite the big temperature swings, there's no point in maintaining seasonal closets.

  • Banoffi replied 1 year ago

    That is a very good question.  The only items in my closet that I can think of that are "all season" are my camisoles.  I wear them in the winter underneath sweaters and jackets for warmth and in the summer underneath anything that is slightly sheer or low-cut.  I'm not sure if this means I am inept at selected clothing that transcends seasons or just that I live in the Midwest where winters can be long and harsh and summers are hot and humid.  It's hard for me to find clothes that work in the both conditions.

  • Janet replied 1 year ago

    My closet is not very "all season" at all. I barely even wear jeans in summer because it gets so hot and humid here. And this summer will be especially, um, interesting, because I seem to have hit the lovely phase of life involving hot flashes. Almost every category of clothing I can think of gets almost completely "switched out" (even if it's still in my main closet) for the seasons. Our transitional seasons are way too short for my liking. Since I have control over the AC in my studio and my home, I don't have to deal with much arctic AC so in the summer I pretty much dress for outdoor temps and take along a jacket if I'm going somewhere where I'll have to deal with overzealous AC. 

    I might wear a sleeveless blouse, tank or short sleeved tee in a layered outfit in the winter, but that's pretty unusual -- I usually work with my long-sleeved tops then. 

    Probably the wardrobe item that most spans the seasons for me, other than jeans, are my Lululemon black moto pants. Somehow they manage to be pretty comfortable in all temperatures and they have gone everywhere from hiking to out for a nice dinner. 

  • rachylou replied 1 year ago

    Man. Only my sneakers really. And undies.

  • rabbit replied 1 year ago

    I live in a moderate climate so I'd say 80% of my closet can be occasionally worn year round.  The exceptions are open-toed sandals and shorts, light cotton dresses, and a few heavier knit sweaters and wool coats (although they really don't get put away unless there is a long hot spell).

      Like Ginger, I dress more according to the temperature of a particular chunk of a day then the season.   It could be jeans and a jacket in the morning, bare legs and short sleeves in the afternoon, and a coat on a cool spring evening.    

    I also am drawn to different colors as the seasons progress but that is more about light than anything else I think.   So on a gray rainy evening in summer I might be wearing black and charcoal,  and on an unseasonably warm and bright winters day, it might be pastels and brights.

    I'm nodding along to unfrumped's observations about different fabrications behaving differently in AC versus sun outdoors though.  I sometimes forget this and then wonder why the 'light' sweater I'm wearing is making me sweat one minute, and then too loosely woven to block breezes the next.

  • bonnie replied 1 year ago

    I live where the high temperature can range from 50 in winter to 110 in summer, so I need a different wardrobe for the hottest and coldest days.  I can wear tees year round with layering for the winter, and sneakers, but that's about it. 

  • Sal replied 1 year ago

    I am probably the opposite to many of you in that conceivably I could wear most of my pieces all year, with layering or not.  DH would wear jeans and a polo to work every day all year, adding a sweater or jacket in winter.  I swap out high summer pieces (shorts, beach attire, maxi dresses, sunfrocks) and mid winter pieces (wool items, bulky scarves) and keep the rest available all the time.

    Stayers include:

    Jeans
    short sleeve tops (worn with a jacket and maybe a cami all year)
    skirts
    work dresses
    sweaters, needed for cool summer evenings
    all my jackets (I don't wear them often in summer, but I do call for them)

    Footwear I do more swapping with and this is how I change up a jeans and top.  In summer it might be sandals and winter it is ankle boots.

    I do like a few high summer items and this is when I indulge my slight boho tendency, and it is nice to have one or two cosy winter items too.  I need to be careful not to overbuy.

    Joy - I find dressy silky type tees (slightly loose) one of my most versatile all year items.  You can easily layer under or over as required, and then wear them solo in mid summer.  I do find some are more summery or wintery because of the colour.

  • Joy replied 1 year ago

    Thank you each for your empathy and ideas. This is a rather whiney post because the weather is crazy and need too many clothes to be available right now, so the urge to try to simplify.

  • harmonica replied 1 year ago

    Interesting post. I'll try to come back to you later. Just a small note now. I gave up all year items some years ago, but do have some pieces that cross seasons depending on weather. I like in a four season climate with cold, snowy winters and mild summers.

    I find the inner layer with thin wool/silk blend tank tops and cardigans the most 'all season'. These are the base for keeping warm and comfy, even at late spring or chilly summer evenings. And I don't get sweaty, even if it heats up a bit. I have a few nice dresses that are all seasons, too, but mainly because of the inner layer that can be skipped/added if needed. Thin layers are key for crossing seasons.

  • Sterling replied 1 year ago

    That is the question I am currently struggling to answer.  

    At this point, I think I have very little in my closet that spans four seasons.  My main problem is that I get hot during summer months (which make up ~five months of my year).  Long sleeves, jeans, and closed toe are just too hot for me to wear.  A third layer is impossible to pull off even in the office (I keep wondering "what is that Arctic air conditioning everyone speaks of?).  Even jewelry can "feel" hot.  

    Like Rachylou posted, underwear are probably my sole four-season item.  But that is ok.  My wardrobe is currently in flux and I am striving to understand what works for me in my climate, in my life.  Our six week challenge was informative.  Now I am trying to apply what I learned.  

    I think my style journey will always be a journey.  There is no final destination for me.  I will never have the perfect wardrobe, but I will always be moving forward.  

  • Summer replied 1 year ago

    As a Brit, I have grown up with the concept of layering to deal with the ever-changing climate.  My wardrobe is fairly multi-seasonal, with small capsules for hot (rare!) and very cold weather.  I switch out my closet twice yearly, but this just means moving out heavier coats, knits and tall boots in spring, and lighter things in the autumn.

    The only truly transitional item for me is my one and only leather jacket, which has a very short window for wear in early spring and autumn.
    I could do with more closed toe shoes, though, as I seem to go straight from boots to sandals when the weather changes.  There, you've identified a wardrobe hole for me!

  • torontogirl replied 1 year ago

    Joy, I feel your pain. I have tried switching out items seasonally and it rarely works because most three-month timeframes where I live will contain at least three seasons weather-wise. For example, today I had to pull out my snow pants again, but in six weeks, who knows?? Could be in a sundress! Aside from a pair of jeans and a black 3/4 sleeve T-shirt, I don't have much all season wear. Even the jeans have limits! Anyways, no answers, but empathy :)

  • Elizabeth P replied 1 year ago

    I have very very little that works for all seasons. 

    I used to keep all my clothes out, so that deal with the constant transitioning that seems to happen (yup, back to snow boots today) but I found that I got sick of looking at my clothes, even if not wearing, so now I pack things away.  Just the super summer and deep winter things though.  My closet volume has also expanded to an embarrassing number, so I need to pack off season things away :)

  • Windchime replied 1 year ago

    Joy--This is the craziest weather week ever! DS and I are visiting Chicago and then Milwaukee for spring break. After beautiful temps near 70F at home last week, we drove through an awful snowstorm to get here on Saturday. Sunday ended up in the low 60's; Monday barely reached 30° with bitter cold wind. So my suitcase is a case study in how to pack for varying spring temps. :) I brought three pairs of jeans, a variety of long- and short-sleeved tops and blouses which can be worn with or without toppers, two cardigans and a moto jacket. I also have a denim jacket and my puffer coat. I almost didn't bring it--it's SPRING vacation, right?--but thank goodness I did, and also a warm hat and mittens, which I've worn two days out of three so far.

    That was a lot of words to say that you shouldn't feel bad about needing an awful lot of clothes to deal with the varying weather this spring!

    And to answer your question, I don't think I have anything I literally wear year-round except my sneakers, and those are worn only indoors when there's snow/ice outdoors. I think my entire wardrobe rotates in this four-season climate.

  • smittie replied 1 year ago

    The items that work best for multiple seasons for me are my cotton or viscose things: jeans, cotton sweaters, cotton/viscose tshirts.

    I have 5 coats/jackets out right now (leather, light weight wool, small puffer, heavy puffer) and have been wearing all of them depending on the day (the weather has been very variable).

    Ditto for boots and shoes. One day I'll wear my big winter boots, the next my rain boots, then next my shoes. So there are a lot of shoes clogging up the entranceway :)

  • Joy replied 1 year ago

    Thank you for your comments. I feel that I'm not alone with my overflowing closet at the moment. Smittie, cotton, unless very thin, is too warm for our summers and holds moisture in the humidity, but I like the idea of viscose or a blend of rayon with cotton. I have tried to wash and pack away puffer coats three times this year and still need them, well at least one plus a short jacket. All my lighter weight coats and jackets are out. I packed away boots and the wiliest socks and am sorry that I did.

  • La Pedestrienne replied 1 year ago

    I wear a good portion of my wardrobe year round. The only things that get packed away when it gets cold (say, early October) are sandals, my handful of running and river shorts, and most of my short sleeve t-shirts and any skirts/dresses that are too light and gauzy for cold weather (also, anything maxi length that would get muddy too easily). The only winter gear that needs to get broken out is my winter-weight down parka, a wool toggle coat, insulated boots, and a massive assortment of wooly hats, mittens, and scarves.

    All the mid-range stuff stays out for layering purposes: sweaters and hoodies are necessary for chilly evenings and AC in the summer. I run fairly cold and wear jeans and chinos even in high summer (I need a baselayer under them if it's below freezing outside) -- shorts are really gear-only for me, and skirts are not always practical. There are maybe two months of high summer temps here when corduroys feel inappropriate. I've barely worn skirts and dresses this winter, not since the holidays TBH, but I keep them on hand just in case a party and mild weather coincide! 

  • texstyle replied 1 year ago

    I wear a lot of my tees year round under jackets - and many of my jeans are lightweight so I can wear them fall/winter/spring since we don't have a very long cold season. I also wear a lot of my button downs year round.

    I have more specific toppers for S/S versus F/W as in S/S I need the lightest weight linen knit or slub cotton toppers and in F/W I use heavier twill, fleece or wool.

    I tend to make sure I have a S/S and a F/W version of the styles and colors I reach for most often so I have several navy/indigo tees and toppers in various weights for example. I have a great deep olive jacket for F/W but I haven't found a light weight one for S/S yet in that color. For me, light weigh means *really* light weight.

    I have a favorite deep charcoal color so I have that color in a short sleeved tee, a sleeveless tank and a long sleeved version so I get to wear the color year round.

  • gradfashionista replied 1 year ago

    JEANS!!! I wear denim year-round, and it holds up well to the grubbiness that comes with subway commutes. Admittedly, it's not the most comfortable material in hot and humid weather, but I found my BF jeans manageable. Moreover, due to the extreme temperature differences between the hot outdoors and the air-conditioned indoors, I actually needed to wear warmer bottoms and carry with me a sweater at all times.

    Apart from my sweaters, my tanks, blouses and tees function in the hot weather, although I'm hoping to turn over my tops once our financial situation is stabilized.

  • Laura (rhubarbgirl) replied 1 year ago

    I keep a few unseasonable things out for the odd weather variation, mostly in spring and fall - heavier sweaters for cold snaps and lighter weight stuff for warm days. But I don't think I have anything that I would wear 12 months a year aside from bras and undies. I don't think I'd *want* to - I like putting away items for a while and rediscovering them later. I'm not a minimalist so I guess it's my version of a capsule wardrobe, just a bit.

    I do have several categories of items that I will wear alone or with another layer across two contiguous seasons: button-front shirts get worn alone in spring and fall, and under sweaters in winter; short-sleeved tees get worn alone in summer and under cardigans in spring and fall. I usually tweak what I have out every couple of months. Right now, for
    example, I still have out all my long-sleeved knit tops, because I'm
    still wearing them alone on cool days, but by the end of the month I'll
    probably put them up for the season and pull out the sleeveless tops,
    which I'll wear for a while layered under something and then alone once
    it's really summer.

    I can wear my jeans 8ish months a year, but they're really too heavy for summer except in the evenings. White jeans are for those days when the calendar says summer but it's not super-hot, or days when I'm going to be inside in a/c all day.

    Since it generally only rains here in winter and early spring, I can wear ballet flats and similar without socks most of the rest of the year, assuming the rest of my outfit is weather-appropriate. I don't really have shoes that I wear both with and without socks - either I wear them without socks or I always wear them with socks.

    Obviously the weather variations are so different in different areas, but I think personal tolerance makes an impact too. I really don't like being too hot or too cold, so I tend to have a lot more gradations in outfits than someone who always runs cold or hot, or who doesn't really get bugged by temperature fluctuations. I have a friend who's always really cold because of medical issues, so she wears scarves and sweaters all year round. And my DH wears pretty much the same thing, jeans and a short-sleeved shirt, to work year-round because he runs warm. (He does wear jackets outside in the winter, and shorts on the weekends in the summer.)

  • Ooh is that silk replied 1 year ago

    I read this with fascination, being in the UK where we rarely stray out of the 10-20 degrees C window. 90% of my wardrobe is all-season, excepting heavy coats, cords and the like.

    We only really have one week of the year when it's so hot you have to dress accordingly (when all blokes under 30 strip to the waist in the streets - yikes), and another couple of weeks in winter where we all overreact and dress as though we are climbing the north face of the Eiger.

  • chirico (Chiara) replied 1 year ago

    The only item I can really wear year-round is a grey skirt. And my sleeveless tops.
    The thing is, during the summer it's usually too hot to wear the stuff I wear any other time. Even jeans, that are a staple year-round for many people are too hot for me here in the summer. And I love the idea of layering a button down over my tops when it gets chilly, but I end up always picking other cover-ups.
    Lately my goal has been to expand the part of my wardrobe that can be worn 3 out of 4 seasons, and keep to a minimum very wintery stuff (it never gets too cold here anyway, besides may be a week-ten days).

  • Deborah replied 1 year ago

    This is a great question Joy:)  Particularly for me as one of the things I strive for is a transeasonal wardrobe, which is challenging given our extreme heat and then cold:)

    I think that is where layering comes in for me.

    • Jersey Tops
      - can be worn alone or under jackets, or layered over shirts!!

    • Long vests
      - worn over sleeveless tops or over long sleeve tops, even sweaters.
    • Jersey Leggings
      - worn with sandals, d'orsay flats in hot weather or boots in the cold.  Also varying layers on top depending on the season
    • Dresses
      - Again my beloved jersey fabric... wear on own in heat or layered for cooler weather. 
    Jackets tend to be an Autumn/Winter/Spring item.  Summer is just too  hot for a jacket/blazer.  

  • kerry replied 1 year ago

    Less and less. And at this time of year, I need access to winter and spring wardrobes because of the constantly changing weather. Frustrating!

    I used to feel summer tops needed to be used for layering in winter. But I've become more fussy about necklines. Stand-alone top necklines don't layer well under cardigans, I have come to find. I wear jeans three seasons (way too hot for summer). But those need to be different for the season too - skinnies for winter to tuck in to everyday boots and looser legs in fall/spring with non-boot footwear. I don't change out my closet for the seasons and used to think that I should wear all of my wardrobe all of the time (except for the heaviest sweaters and shorts). I've come to realize I need to rearrange my closet so the items that are suitable for the current season and front and centre. I live in a four season climate with lots of winter and hot, humid summers. Spring is usually a blip :)

  • Joy replied 1 year ago

    I'm coming to my senses and realizing that nearly everything except underwear is unlikely to work for both hottest summer and most frigid parts of winter, which can be most of those seasons. But a girl can wish. Maybe Colorado's climate will be more stable. Here I rarely have to deal with over air conditioned rooms and nights do not get cool.
    Deborah, I love your layering and that it works on you even though you are not tall. I need to experiment more. Jersey sags on me but structured drape may work.
    Kerry, I feel as you do, especially after living in Southern California for several years. It never got too hot or too cold and it was wonderful to buy a trendy item and actually wear it to death rather than pack it away and pull it out 6 months later and feel that the trend was over.
    Chiara, jeans are too warm for our summers too. That is a challenge because I feel too old to wear shorts. Your plan to keep the very wintery stuff to a minimum is wise. It worked for me until the year of the Polar Vortex.

  • replied 1 year ago

    I do not switch out my closet, but just realized that my closet is arranged by season. How did I not see that?

    It gets really confusing when you experience several seasons in a span of a month, mainly March 2016 in the eastern US. We had 80 degree weather days and 20 - 30 degree days in the same week. Drives me crazy, but I layer and unlayer and try not to let it frustrate me. But the one thing I have noticed is that I tend to wear my heavier knits less and work with button down shirts, camis, long sleeve tees, and my thinner knits to dress for the cold mornings, temperate mid days, and cool evenings.

    If anything I own a lot of coats and jackets to deal with the wide range of temps we experience. That is probably the only articles of clothing I regularly switch out along with my boots.

  • Joy replied 1 year ago

    Ooo is that silk, I envy you your UK weather.
    Laura, so much wisdom in your post. I enjoy switching things out in the closet and the surprise of rediscovering them after several months. It also keeps me from tiring of them, especially prints.
    Grandfashionista, your post reminded me that summer things don't often last more than a season, especially tops that take the brunt of the sweatiness.
    Texstyle, what a great idea to have similar pieces in different fabrications! That would make seasonal changes more seamless.
    LaPedestrieen, it sounds like climate figures prominently into your choices.

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