Two Modest Dresses, Four Fall Styles Inspired by NYC

By Megan Bingham

October means pumpkins, cider, and, for me, an annual trip to New York City. I love visiting Gotham in the fall: the leaves in Central Park twinkle orange and yellow, the air is crisp and fresh, and the fashion is unbelievable.

That’s because if there’s one thing New Yorkers do right — other than pizza, of course — it’s layering. Inspired by the swaths of jackets, scarfs, and tights on display on Park Avenue, I came home ready to practice my styling skills on two of my favorite Sweet Salt modest dresses: My Best Dress and the Knit ½ Sleeve Dress. Using only accessories that were already in my closet, I came up with four fall looks loaded with metropolitan inspiration.

SoHo Easy
The Knit ½ Sleeve Dress’ navy stripes are the perfect backdrop for a laid-back weekend look. While the nautical flair might make you think summer, this modest dress actually works perfectly for fall layering. The knit fabric is sturdy enough to hold its shape — no need to fear lumps and bumps — and is thin enough to make wearing tights and a jacket easy.

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In my case, I decided to pair the dress with a Boden scarf (I won it for Kate Middleton’s wedding in 2011) and an Ann Taylor tassel necklace I’ve had for a few years. I topped it with a new Old Navy field jacket. The Cobb Hill Mary Janes are a favorite of mine. They’re gold, they’re girly, and they’re super comfortable — like walk-20-blocks-in-the-rain comfortable.

Midtown Maven
While I wish casual was my daily uniform, weekdays require me to look (and act) like a put-together professional. The good news? This striped dress goes the 9-to-5 distance.

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For a c-suite-ready look, I layered my dress with a cream blazer from JC Penney and a gold necklace from Forever XXI. Since conference rooms at my office can get chilly, I tossed a mustard-colored pashmina into my bag. I bought the navy suede pumps at a Payless in East Harlem during my stint as a struggling magazine writer. If I could make it there, right? I think this outfit definitely says, “Look at me now, Ma!”

Biker Girl’s Night
Walking the Upper East Side during my recent visit, there were so many women pairing ultra feminine blouses with hard-core motorcycle jackets. Who doesn’t love mixing sweet and savory? Sweet Salt’s prim-and-proper black dress is the perfect backdrop for just such a combo.

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While I originally thought a leather jacket would be the way to go, this knit biker jacket with gold hardware (it matches the back zipper!) worked best. I added a chunky black necklace from Charming Charlie and my beloved leopard-print heels. You won’t believe it, but I bought those babies at Manhattan’s only Kmart! Take that as proof that good-looking accessories can be found at all price points.

Lights Out
Last but not least, with its nipped-in waist and pretty princess seaming — was crying out to be styled for evening. I’m not arguing for a Downton Abbey-level of finery every night, but I do believe that grownups should dress up for a night on the town.

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And for me, that starts with some bling. My sister got me this fantastic jewelry set for Christmas last year. The necklace is meant to look like a series of vintage brooches. I love the pops of color and sparkle against the black canvas of the dress. I pulled this pair of Clarks suede pumps out of the closet, and the purse is from Forever XXI. I wanted to show off the dress’s pretty sleeves, so instead of piling on a jacket, I opted to grab a teal-and-gold Charming Charlie scarf. Evening wear, mastered.

So I’ve shared my fall favorites, but now it’s your turn to tell! How do you pull accessories from your closet to create new outfits? And do you have any tips or tricks for layering up for fall? Spill your styling secrets in the comments below!

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