On Thursday I wore this burgundy dress.  It’s a perfect, what I call, 9 month a year dress.  With the exception on the hottest and coldest of days I can wear it.  It has a 3/4 sleeve and is an incredibly basic a-line style.  When I wore it last week I styled it with a pair of my yellow heeled Naya sandals and a colorful necklace that picked up the yellow of the shoes.  Because the necklace is colorful, I have also worn with the dress and necklace with my turquoise Vince Camuto Ellen flats.  Thinking about the versatility of this dress and, how with just a change of accessories, it can go from cold weather to warm weather, I remembered a photo of myself from the winter wearing the same dress with my green and blue necklace that I styled with brown tights and boots.  In today’s What am I going to wear to work tomorrow? post I am going to show you how you can make dark work dresses that you wore when it was cold and, with just some punches of brightness and a shoe change, make them summery.  So ditch the tights and heavy boots and learn how to wear these dresses into the warmer months.

Work dresses

Wearing the same dress in the spring and the winter.

Why work dresses that work all year long is important

Aside from the obvious money saving reason of getting more with less, offices are typically cold, like meat locker freezing.  Every time I purchase a colorful, sleeveless dress with a client for the spring and summer the first thing we have to do is figure out what she will put over it because she will freeze without additional layers.  These summer dresses definitely have their places at work during the summer but there are many cold weather dresses that can be perfect for the warmer months.  Obviously, like my burgundy dress, once we get into the dog days of summer dresses I wore in the winter will get packed away but during transitional times, with just a few changes, they are perfect.

Work dresses tend to be more conservative

Work dresses tend to be on the more conservative side, in darker colors, neutrals and more classic silhouettes.  Once the weather gets warmer these somber dresses can get heavy and drab looking.  However, with just some pops of color, they can look light and more appropriate for warm weather.

Think of the majority of your wardrobe as 9 month appropriate

One of the best ways to get the most out of your wardrobe is to have much of it be wearable for 9 months out of the year, especially if you live in a climate that has four seasons.  A spaghetti strap sundress, linen pants or a cashmere flannel blazer are things that won’t fall into this category, but items like lightweight wool pants, skirts and suits, blended cardigans, dresses in lightweight fabrics usually can be worn at least 9 months out of the year.  To get the most mileage from these versatile items, accessorize them according to the season.  Using the three dresses below, I am going to show you how to accessorize these perfect for fall dresses for spring and summer.

 How to Brighten Dull and Dark Work Dresses for Summer

Outfit #1- Brighten brown

A client of mine recently purchased this brown MICHAEL Michael Kors dress that is so easy and finished look for work.  The beauty of the dress being brown is any color can be worn with it.  Plus, once the weather gets cooler it can be worn with boots and tights and richer accessories.  However, brown can also be very dark for spring and summer.  to brighten it up I added a pair of coral shoes, a pair of colorful earrings from Anthropologie and a blue Coach handbag.  The dress is now a beautiful base for brightness.

Outfit #2- Liven up grey

Grey is the perfect corporate color.   Once the weather gets warmer the color can be livened up to make it feel less drab but still workplace appropriate.  In this outfit, I used softer colors to give this Boden shift dress some pop vs. the darker ways it can be worn when it is cold.  The outfit is still soft but perfect for warmer weather with a pastel colored bib necklace from Nordstrom, a pair of Bandolino pumps in lemon and a turquoise Kate Spade tote.

Outfit #3- Springtime burgundy

Like my burgundy dress, I chose this dress from Modcloth to show that burgundy can be a great base to take into the warmer months with the right accessories.  Here I went with mint green and added a pair of open toe flats, a mint necklace from Banana Republic and a white Vince Camuto handbag.  Now the dress looks fresh instead of dark.

While it is a color and not a neutral, burgundy can often work as a neutral and many colors can be worn with it.  You don’t have to necessarily pack all your burgundy from fall and winter away, you just need to know how to add some bright color to it to make it right for warm weather.

Shop for bright accessories

Looking for some bright accessories to make your dark work looks bright and summery?  Check out these additional styles.