Seasonal Dressing

Growing up in Northern California, I pretty much wore the same clothes year-round. The only difference between the summer and the winter there is how much it rains. When I went to college in Tennessee, I got a crash course in seasonal dressing. Suddenly, those fashion “rules” I’d vaguely heard about started to make sense. “Don’t wear velvet in the summer” because you will swelter. “Don’t wear linen in the winter” because you will freeze.

The closets in my dorm rooms were small, so I got in the habit of switching out my wardrobe when the seasons changed, putting the warm-weather clothes into my trunk for storage and taking out the cold-weather clothes in the fall, then repeating the process in the spring. It felt so nice to suddenly have a whole new wardrobe twice a year, and to have less clutter in my closet, that I kept making the switch even after college.

Photo by Daniel T. Yara

The longer I’ve lived in the South, the more I’ve embraced the whole concept of dressing for the season. I don’t see it as a bunch of silly outdated rules. Rather, I think seasonal dressing is a worthy tradition dating back hundreds of years. For an example, look at traditional Japanese kimonos with their carefully crafted designs meant to express the essence of each season. Dressing for the season helps me feel more in tune with the natural world. Also, it’s a good way to give your wardrobe a periodic overhaul.

One difference between South Carolina and some of the other places I’ve lived is that we don’t really get winter here. At least, not temperature-wise. Also, the weather doesn’t really get fall-like until mid- to late-October. In addition, we don’t have the cold spring weather that fashion merchandisers assume is the norm. So instead of two big closet-changing sessions a year, I’ve found that I need two big ones and two little ones.

I make one of my big changeovers around Easter. That holiday is a pretty good marker for the beginning of spring/summer. Then, sometime in May, I put away all the spring clothes that it’s too warm to wear anymore (e.g. long-sleeved sweaters and tees).

In early fall, around Labor Day, I make another small changeover, putting away clothes that feel too “summery.” (I’ll get into this more in my next post.) Finally, when the weather really cools off sometime in October, I put away the shorts and capris and bring out the jeans and sweaters.

I like keeping my closet filled with only the clothes I can actually wear at the moment, and I like the feeling of getting a whole bunch of “new” clothes a few times a year, when I take things out of storage. Do you dress seasonally? Why or why not?

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  1. I think I’m more likely to buy seasonally. Since we get clothing soooo cheap at our local thrift stores, I rotate my clothes through their shelves. It’s like having storage where the options always change!!

  2. Now that I’m in the land of truly-no-seasons, pretty much all clothing is early-summer clothing.
    That said, it seems that men’s fashion is reluctant to believe that there is this season known as “summer” where somebody might just want to wear one layer.

  3. Becca, that’s an interesting way to keep your wardrobe updated and your closet uncluttered!

  4. As a further justification for what might seem to be a spendthrift habit, the stores we shop usually sell clothing for 50 cents a bag.

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