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There comes a point each summer where the urge to shop light, breezy dresses is met by a much-too-practical voice in our head. "How long will you really get to wear this for?" it asks. "Shouldn't you be thinking about the cooler weather, and shopping for fall fashion instead?"
It's right, of course; slinky satin materials and twisted halter-necks come with an expiration date in may parts of the country, where temperatures tend to dip way before we're ready. But, fall dresses and summer dresses don't have to be two separate sections of your closet. There are plenty of options that easily work for both, whether they're designed that way or can be tweaked with the addition of layers.
Ahead, we've rounded up a few dresses that can pull double duty. These pieces work for fall 2021's top trends, but at the same time, won't leave you sweating on an 80-degree day this summer.
A Tailored Dress
Aside from helping you look sharp for that return to the office, it's something timeless that's easy one to throw on all year round. You can layer it over a button-down or a ribbed sweater, or leave it fully unbuttoned and style it as a vest.
Shop Now: H&M Sleeveless Jacket Dress; $50
A Pleated Design
Lean into that preppy vibe for the rest of the year. Light Academia isn't going anywhere, and this pick will even look cute while popping out from underneath a sweatshirt.
Shop now: Tory Burch Performance Pleated Golf Dress; $188
Knits are a well-known fall-friendly material, but they're everywhere this summer, too. The colors on this option will help to spice up your look from now until November (or beyond).
Shop now: Tanya Taylor Joelle Knit Dress; $365
A Denim Dress
Forget the debate between slim and baggier cuts of denim - the truth is, the more the merrier, including chambray dresses. This piece will work for a variety of style preferences (preppy, '90s, '70s, cottagecore, etc.), and you can transform a simple shirt option into something all your own, just by adding layers and accessories.
Shop now: Ganni x Levi's® Long Sleeve Denim Shirtdress; $375
Chaotic fashion is here! And while to some that might mean a ton of ruffles and sequins, you can easily hop on board this trend with a bold yet versatile animal print. A loose shape lets your legs breath when it's hot out, but the blanket-like nature can be cozy when temps start to drop.
Shop now: Mare Mare Lynda Maxi Dress; $158
There's a time and place for neutrals, but if you're in the mood to add some color to your closet, you can't go wrong with light or bright pinks and purples, shades that were spotted in a ton of fall 2021 collections but are an obvious fit for summer.
Shop now: J.Crew Button-Front Beach Dress; $80
ICYMI, cottagecore is sticking around for the remainder of 2021, so if you feel the urge to purchase a paisley print smock dress, you can feel confident that it's a good investment. To add some interest (and warmth) come fall, ditch the strappy sandals and swap in riding boots or dad sneakers.
Shop now: Dolan Left Coast Smocked Maxi Dress; $178
If you're looking to embrace seasonless fashion, you'll definitely want to add a shirtdress to your rotation. On top of being a throw-on-and-go piece for warmer days, it works layered over a turtleneck and paired with combat boots once things cool off.
Shop now: Madewell Denim Seamed Courier Tie-Waist Shirtdress; $118
A Belted Design
Belted details have been on the rise for over a year at this point, but this waist-cinching pick offers so much more. The shiny material reminds us of the '80s, which is another era that has managed to weasel its way back into our wardrobes.
Shop now: Song of Style Tucker Mini Dress; $248
Styled with a pair of strappy heels, this dress is perfect for a summer date night. Make it pull double-duty once fall rolls around by slipping on black tights and chunky loafers.
Shop now: Mango Faux Leather Shirt Dress; $46 (Originally $80)
The '70s are back, baby - crochet textiles included. This long-sleeved dress is perfect for a cooler summer day, and will transition to the next season easier than a bikini top.
Shop now: Wales Bonner Lotus Crocheted Cotton Midi Dress; $1,230
A Ruched Bodycon
We're currently experiencing Y2K round two, but you don't have to go full scarf top and peek-a-boo thong in order to try the trend. A tight ruched dress is a more subtle approach, and will pair well with both platform slides and knee-high boots.
Shop now: Lioness Military Minds Mini Dress; $79
The Not-So-Classic LBD
A black dress is always the perfect go-to in a dressing emergency. Aside from the eye-catching neckline and the ability to work for any occasion on your calendar, this one was made by Bottega Veneta, aka one of the hottest, most celeb-loved brands of the year. If you invest in it, you'll WANT to keep wearing it for months - and you'd absolutely have our blessing.
Shop now: Bottega Veneta Square-Neck Mini Dress; $2,050