How to cozy up your wardrobe!

Oh hello there!

From where I’m sitting right now, looking out at the absolute deluge from the window of my office, it’s finally starting to sink in….


….Summer is over.

Before you get all preachy, I know, I know, technically summer has been over for a long time – in fact, it’s nearly winter – but I will not let go that easily!
I am a creature of the sun. I moved to Auckland 6 years ago to escape the eternal winter of my homeland (Dunedin) and I will not lie down and let it take me.

A good part of the reason for this attitude is, of course, my wardrobe. I live in brightly coloured cotton sundresses, flimsy ballet flats, and things with no sleeves –  clothes which are inherently impractical for cold weather!

_MG_3129Impractical for most things, really, if I’m honest….but I’m not going to let that slow me down!

Now, I know a lot of people love autumn and winter. It’s a really good time of year for layering, and big coats, and some pretty sweet hat / scarf combos, and I can totally appreciate this….It just doesn’t work for me. The colours are always so muted, and everything is so bulky, and I just don’t feel like myself!

Thankfully, I have a stack of really great suggestions for keeping warm, and still getting the most out of pretty summer dresses!
I’ve buddied up with a few of my favourite local retailers to show y’all some super cute and colourful dresses, and a few ways to keep wearing them right through the rest of Autumn and Winter! Plus, almost none of them are black, which I still think is an achievement, considering the all-black-everything nature of women’s clothing in New Zealand!

First off though, let me introduce you to Vanessa!


She’s the brains behind Vanessa Kelly Clothing, and she is all about quality NZ-made dresses and skirts in the coolest prints imaginable!

(I’m not lying, you guys, she makes cute stuff. Like, you have no idea. I may have fallen in love with everything in her range.)

She was also easily coerced into modelling some of her own garments, alongside my gorgeous friends Miss Lola Fondant


….and Lorelei Louise (the talented lady behind Retro Resins!)



Now is a good time to mention (and thank!) Vanessa Kelly Clothing, Retro Resins, and Rita Sue Clothing for letting me use all their gorgeous things for this post!
I didn’t want to show you all these ideas without being able to link you to reputable suppliers, so it’s really cool that these guys all jumped on board. It’s great to support local businesses, especially when they’re making and selling really cool stuff, so I’d highly recommend checking them out online, in store, or at the various markets they pop up at around Auckland.

So without further ado, on with the tips!


Camille Watermark-

I am not a big sleeves person, but I do make a point of owning a few dresses at any given time that have sleeves, so that on cold lazy mornings I don’t have to put together a whole outfit – just dress, belt, shoes, out the door!


Dresses with sleeves are also a great day-to-night option in winter, as you can do tights-and-boots during the day, and swap those out for some wedges or heels in the evening and you’re ready to go!



This might sound obvious, but if you’re cold, consider wearing more clothes! You can totally bust out your cute summer skirts with a plain merino knit, or a long-sleeved tee and a cardi, and still be warm!
The only thing I like about winter (aside from having slightly more free time!) is that I can wear petticoats, and girdles with stockings, and cute shirt-and-cardigan combos without suffering from heat stroke!

You can also get super cute printed cardigans year-round which can sometimes be hard to pair with things, so the other good thing about winter is the abundance of jewel-tones and plain-coloured separates! You can easily pair a cute pastel with a jewel-tone to keep it light, or with other jewel-tones for something vivid but moody!


And while I love a good cardigan, I’m also a big fan of things that go under things.
When a dress has a cute neckline, or some interesting detailing in the bust, you don’t always want to cover that with a cardi, and that’s where something like the ‘Sleevey-Wonder‘ comes in!


Bear with me guys, I know this is a little odd, but they make sense! They’re like a bolero that goes under stuff, and can be worn facing forwards or backwards depending on the neckline of your dress, and because you’re not wearing a whole layer, you don’t end up with that whole warm-torso-cold-arms thing. I think it’s just the name that weirds me out, because they’re actually a cool idea, particularly if you are one of the many thousands of women worldwide who seem to think their upper arms are offensive in some way.
Alternatively, skivvys, long-sleeved tees, or merinos can be super useful to go under dresses, and can be really cheap to pick up in a range of colours! Try Glassons, Kmart, or The Warehouse for these, or your local opshop.



Now, I know this seems like common knowledge too, but the easiest way to keep warm in a cute cotton sundress is by wearing a cardi. What you might not realise is that you can easily sneak a merino under your dress to stay even warmer, and then throw a cardi over the top to cover the sleeves! Cozy, and adorable!
Rita Sue clothing have also got these cute knit boleros at the moment, in a bunch of different colours, and they are fab! They’re super comfy, and can easily be dressed up to look more formal than your standard button-down cardi, so they’re perfect for going out on chillier evenings! They also are prime for accessorising – I have a faux fur collar pinned to one of mine at the moment, but they also look super cute with brooches or cardigan clips….


…as modeled by the gorgeous Lorelei of Retro Resins!

I’m also going to take a moment here to talk about the power of pantyhose. I know everyone owns roughly 40,000 pairs of opaque black tights for winter, but there are so many other options! Even just a 15 denier pair of nude tights is enough to trap heat, and keep your legs warm. Just make sure you spray your legs with some hairspray once you’ve got them on, so you don’t get baggy ankles!


My other favourite options, as a lover of vintage lingere, are stay ups. Not traditionally warm, I know, but I found these beautiful thigh-high grey woolen socks at Glassons, and they are so warm and so soft, and clip onto a garter belt perfectly so you don’t have to keep hitching them up all day! Keeping your legs toasty, without looking like those awful woolen tights that we all had to wear with our school uniforms in winter to stave off the frostbite….which is ideal, really!



Now, we all know that coats are a thing, and there are a heap of different styles of coat out there, but you guys, there is nothing more elegant in winter than a cape!
Plus, you don’t have to worry about trying to fit heaps of layers under a cape because there are no arms to restrict movement, so you could totally wear, like, 40 jumpers and still be able to fit it.


And the best thing about capes? They’re different. If you’ve ever walked around Britomart on a cold winters’ morning, you will see thousands of people in boring black coats. Some of them might be nice boring black coats, but they all rapidly blend into one. Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to dress like special snowflakes if they don’t want to, but dressing differently from other people is inherently practical! For example, there’s nothing worse than getting to the staff room at the end of a long day to find your $300 jacket has gone home with someone else – which just will not happen if you have something that’s uniquely yours!

Vanessa has some really beautiful wool-blend capes available on her website at the moment, in a whole bunch of great colours, with super-cute linings! She can also make them with plain linings, if you aren’t keen on the patterns, but, like, why wouldn’t you want secret flowers all over the inside of your cape?!

Nat Watermark-

My favourite of all of the colours is this turquoise one – it’s bright enough to be fun, but looks great with all the mustards and browns that show up in a big way through autumn and winter – but Vanessa also has them in Blue, Navy, Plum, Red, a smashing Grey and Mustard Houndstooth, that gorgeous Oxblood that Lola is wearing in an earlier photo, and, of course…..


….black – because I really couldn’t get away with a whole post on winter wear without featuring the classic kiwi staple!

Even just listing all of these options has made me a little more enthusiastic about the onslaught of cold weather, so hopefully I’ve given you some ideas of how to cozy up your summer clothes this winter!

What’s your favourite winter staple? Have you got any tips for banishing black from your winter wardrobe? Share them in the comments below, because I’m always keen to learn more!

Dresses, Skirts, Capes – Vanessa Kelly Clothing 
Boleros, Cropped Cardigans, ‘Sleevey Wonders’ –  Rita Sue Clothing 
Jewellery – Retro Resins
Photography and Styling – Fran Robertson

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