Dresses Over Pants: Your Fast-Track To Fall Layering Done Right

Fall in New York City often brings style dilemmas aplenty. What to wear to combat a frosty morning, stuffy commute, air-conditioned office, and toasty bar? We're not quite in winter coat territory, nor is it warm enough to bare too many limbs. The solution? Layering. We hear the word thrown around in fashion every year with little indication of exactly how or what to layer. But fear not; this season it's as easy as paint-by-numbers (thanks to the inspiration to be found both on and off the runway) and involves just two items: your favorite dress, and some trusty trousers.
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Back in February, the fall '17 shows had a plethora of inspiration for the season. Tibi paired matching silk trousers and ankle-skimming dresses, making a strong argument for head-to-toe color, while Ellery and Simone Rocha proved that your party dress is work appropriate when worn over dressed-down slacks. Erdem and Gucci displayed matching brocade pieces, and Stella McCartney mixed textures with sequin frocks styled over tassel-hemmed bottoms.
Before you despair at the sight of rain, shine, and everything in between, click through for step-by-step breakdown on how to layer all of your dresses — from wrap-style to waterfall hems — over your pants.
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Easy Does It
Three is the magic number with this formula. Simply wear your favorite dress — loud prints on long-sleeved midi-dresses are our preference — and pair with some trousers. Whether it's bleached boyfriend jeans, cropped kick flares, or light-washed skinnies, just add some mules or ankle boots, and you've got your 9-to-5 (and 5-to-9) get-up sorted.
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Madewell Nightflower Maxi Dress in Wild Botanic, $188, available at Madewell.
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Alexachung Frill Maxi Dress, $795, available at Alexachung.
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Rixo London Camellia Dress – Porcelain Oriental, £295, available at Rixo London.
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Rouje Gabin Dress With Dots Print, $190, available at Rouje.
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Photo: Getty Images.
The Waterfall Hem
If you were once unsure of the waterfall hems filling shops and Instagram feeds, this is an example of why they work. The silhouette leaves just enough space for your outfit to perfect the art of peek-a-boo. This off-kilter hemline is ideal for those who want some warmth this season, but shudder at the thought of opaque tights.
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Mango Committed Asymmetric Bow Dress, $129.99, available at Mango.
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H&M Patterned Dress, $69.99, available at H&M.
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ASOS Soft Trapeze Midi Drouser Dress with Pep Hem in Polka Dot, $60, available at ASOS.
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Warehouse Carnation Print Midi Dress, £59, available at Warehouse.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Cold-Weather Combat
This is where layering really comes into play. We're bringing cold-shoulder dresses from summer to fall and winter by layering them over turtlenecks and under extra-large bomber jackets. Jeans recommended but not required.
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Ulla Johnson Marion Dress - Olive, $860, available at Ulla Johnson.
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Anna October Cold-shoulder Silk Dress, $952, available at MyTheresa.
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Tibi Open Shoulder Dress, $650, available at Shopbop.
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Preen By Thornton Bregazzi Hayett Printed Satin-devoré Dress, $1,850 $925, available at MatchesFashion.com.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Short & Sweet
No need to worry about baring your legs with a super-short number. Instead, we'll be wearing our most sparkly minis over jeans during the day, then whipping off the bottoms for our office party come 7 p.m. Who said fashion wasn't practical?
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Magda Butrym Acapulco Dress Black, $1,293, available at Magda Butrym.
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Topshop Foil High Neck Mini Dress, $90, available at Topshop.
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Attico Stella Embellished Satin Wrap Dress, $1,390, available at Net-A-Porter.
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Zara Shiny Draped Midi Dress, $89.90, available at Zara.
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Photo: Getty Images.
The Statement Trouser
This is the maximalist's take on the trend. Since no one ever said your trousers had to take a back seat in this equation, choose a wrap dresses — or one with sky-high splits — and put those pants on display.
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Zimmermann Frill Hem Wrap Dress, $918, available at Farfetch.
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Diane von Furstenberg Long Sleeve Asymmetric Hem Dress, $598, available at Diane von Furstenberg.
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Realisation Par The Violette - Black & White Spot, $225, available at Realisation Par.
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J.Crew Collection Velvet Wrap Dress, $328, available at J.Crew.
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