How to Wear a Sleeveless Dress in the Fall

How to wear a sleeveless dress in the fall Sleeveless dresses in the fall seem so counterintuitive.  Just as the weather starts to get cool who wants to bare their arms?  Well, generally speaking, who wants to bare their arms, period?  Yet, despite the much-agreed-upon aversion towards this, there are many fall dresses out there sans sleeves to choose from, and nothing is worse than falling in love with a dress and not buying it because it’s sleeveless.  Sure, you could just wear it with that ratty old stand-by cardigan for coverage.  Or you can think beyond the sweater that hangs off the back of your chair at work, or that wrap that you use solely for warmth, and actually put some cute looks together.   In today’s post I am giving my tips on how to wear a sleeveless dress in the fall using this little shift from Boden.

Before we go on, it should first be established that there are many different sleeveless dresses out there.  Some will look good with all the outfits I created below.  However, there are some dresses where some, but not all, of my tips below tips won’t work.  For example, not all dresses will look good with a turtleneck thrown under it.  That said, see all of these options as ones to consider with your sleeveless dresses.  Some may be better for your style or the particular sleeveless dresses you own than others.

Suggestion #1- Layer a slim turtleneck underneath it

sleeveless dress

In this first outfit I layered a slim grey Majestic sweater under the dress which turns it into a jumper.  Typically, this type of solution works with sleeveless dresses that are sheaths or tunics, have armholes that allow for layering underneath and where the style works for this type of look.  It’s also important that the type of sweater your layer under the dress is right.  Slim knits that fit close to body are best.

To finish this look, I added a pair of Ivanka Trump boots, a burgundy handbag from French Connection, heather grey tights from Target and a pair of grey earrings.

Suggestion #2- Stylishly add a cardigan over the dress

sleeveless dress

Adding a cardigan to a sleeveless dress is certainly nothing new.  However, what I have found is that most women treat this cardigan like an after-thought, meaning it often is a sweater added for function, not style.  In this outfit I created a look that not only provides arm coverage but it works with the colors of the dress.  What I like about this particular Boden dress is all the directions you can go in because it is so colorful.  In this outfit, I played up the soft pink with this basic J. Crew cardigan in soft pink.

In this outfit, I finished this outfit with a lot of brown, using a pair of brown booties from Pikolinos, brown opaque tights, and a brown handbag with a touch of pink from Modcloth.  Lastly, a burgundy Kendra Scott necklace was bought in to add a rich color to the look.

Outfit #3- Add a separate blazer

Sleeveless dress

Adding a blazer over a sleeveless dress can create a suited look for work or a dressy-casual look for the weekends.  Here this grey Gap blazer not only adds coverage but creates a whole new way to wear this dress.  Added to the outfit is a pair of black Vince Camuto riding boots, a cranberry colored tote from Banana Republic and burgundy earrings from Anthropologie.

Outfit #4- With a short-sleeve cardigan

sleeveless dress

Maybe, for you, it’s not about warmth as much as it is about coverage.  So many women hate their arms and, typically, it’s right about the time when fluctuations in body temperature happen.  While you could remove the long sleeve cardigan when you get warm you’re then dealing with exposed arms.  An alternative would be a short sleeve cardigan that adds coverage while not adding too much heat.

In this outfit I used this drapey black cardigan from Modcloth to create another functional look and belted the dress, using this black belt, to change up the shape of it.  Lastly, I added a pair of black booties, black opaque tights, a gold and black Ann Taylor cuff bracelet, gold disc earrings and, for a punch, this coral bag from Nordstrom.

Suggestion #5- With a white button-front shirt and denim jacket

Sleeveless dress

Similar to the first outfit, you can take a slim white button-front shirt and layer it underneath a sleeveless dress to create a jumper look, like I did with this white shirt from the Gap.  Next, for a more casual look, I added a denim jacket.  In this outfit, I finished the look using tan, these lace-up boots from Modcloth and bucket bag.  Lastly, the outfit is complete with a long pendant from Anthropologie and a pair of gold earrings.

  • Anda

    Nice 🙂 I bought a sleeveless dress last winter, and with all these variations it is a definite staple. (worn like 30 times in 8 months)
    Long-sleeved and short-sleeved tops also may work under such dress. For example I have this lacy top, that is too see-through to be worn to work, but under the dress it nicely adds lacy sleeves and at the same time is covered, where needed.