How to create a winter outfit when it's not so cold outside

How to create a winter outfit (when it’s not so cold outside)

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to 52 Comments

Sponsored by Adrift

Don’t laugh (oh go on, you can) but currently I’m leaving open the windows to our Queenslander home. ON PURPOSE. Just to feel the cool edge to the season that has finally hit.

In a month or so, I’ll be shutting everything down because the novelty will have worn off and the UGG boots will be firmly on. In the meantime, I’m embracing the cooler nights and mornings after another long, hot, humid summer.

I know my southern style sisters have already had a taste of real winter but for us northerners, we’re working a trans-seasonal wardrobe like nobody’s business. I’ve grown tired of my summer clothing and am yearning for something a little different, something that looks a little “autumn with a side of winter” possibility. 

As ambassador for Adrift, a Brisbane-based online retailer, I get to play with so many of their looks and pieces. The label’s new-season collections have launched. I’m in love with so much but have fallen hard for the winter colour combo of navy, white and charcoal.

This colour mix is perfect for trans-seasonal looks because it can easily be “winter-fied” by the addition of a cosy knit, tights and boots.

If you’re wanting tips on how to create a winter outfit when it’s not so cold outside, read on. If you’d like tips on how to take these featured outfits into winter then check my style tips under each outfit.

How to create a winter outfit when it's not so cold outside

Adrift Desini knitted poncho in Ztec (one-size) | Adrift Benito top in white (I’m in M/L) – also available in XL/2XL and 3XL/4XL | Adrift Jansi pant in black (I’m in M/L) – also available in XL/2XL and 3XL/4XL

Style notes: a poncho that pops a little colour is a great way to lift an otherwise neutral outfit. This one is so super soft and not at all scratchy. The top has beautiful detailing should you need to remove the “winter” layer. These pants are just so comfortable and flattering. They do need a heel to make this leg width work.

Cold weather styling option: add thermal tights under pants; wear closed-in block heel pumps; swap the white top for a merino knit; add a coat

How to create a winter outfit when it’s not so cold outside

1. Think about your base outfit pieces. These are not only the building blocks of an outfit but they also have to be good enough to stand on their own should you need to de-layer throughout the day. This is where I used to get totally caught out. I’d have a fabulous layering piece on top but couldn’t remove it as I hadn’t thought about what was underneath. 

2. Don’t wear a thick knit jumper on its own if you know you’re going to be creating a personal sauna by 11am. I don’t know what it is but I’m seduced by every new knit I see online and in store. It’s just crazy as I already have a massive collection for someone who lives in a mostly warm climate. I like the comfort factor, I think. So, if I’m going to wear a knit on its own, I have to know in advance that it’s a particularly cool or cold day/night.

3. Create an outfit that’s half winter/half autumn. This is one of my most used tricks. We know we’re not in summer any more and we want to utilise our autumn-winter offerings but how to do that? Simple, break down the outfit and balance it out. Maybe a summer-weight dress with leggings and boots. Maybe pants and ankle boots but with just a tee and a scarf. Can you see where I’m heading with this? Your wardrobe is refreshed and different but it’s also allowing an outfit to be climate-appropriate.

4.  Do not ignore the power of a scarf/cape/wrap/poncho. This is the key to successful winter layering and how you can add winter texture to an otherwise lightweight outfit.

5.  Colour in winter is very ok. Just because it’s winter, it doesn’t mean we have to put away our colours. Don’t let anyone stop you from going peacock in among a sea of black and grey. Conversely, if black and grey are your thing, go for it.

Adrift Benito top in navy


Adrift Benito top in navy (I’m in XL/2XL* – also available in XS/S and M/L and 3XL/4XL – *I’m actually between sizes on this style. The M/L is a better fit)

Style notes: I just love the pin-tuck detailing, broderie anglaise and flutter sleeve and hem of this top. The button-down situation is great for mums who are breastfeeding. Work this back with any pant or jean for an instant outfit.

Cold weather styling option: Add a long woollen cardigan; add a thermal t-shirt or tank underneath; add a scarf

Adrift Hemani top in indigo


Adrift Lorena top in indigo (I’m in M/L – also available in XS/S and XL/2XL; 3XL/4XL) | Adrift Ponte pant in grey (I’m in M – also available in XS, S, L; and XL, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL

Style notes: love the over-dye nature of this cotton top. The pleated detailing around the neckline and mesh cut-outs on the sleeve add interest. If you’ve not made ponte pants a part of your winter wardrobe, hop to it. They are thicker than leggings – these ones are quite lightweight but in a fabric that holds you in. Buy down at least one size so they stay on.

Cold weather styling option: add thermals under the ponte pants and top; add a knit; add a coat and scarf.

 Adrift Lorena top in white | Adrift Jansi pant in dark grey | Welisa knitted wrap


Adrift Lorena top in white (I’m in M/L – also available in XS/S and XL/2XL; 3XL/4XL) | Adrift Jansi pant in dark grey (I’m in M/L) – also available in XL/2XL and 3XL/4XL | Welisa knitted wrap (one-size)

Style notes: work or an occasion might call for a pant that is not as streamlined as the ponte pant. This is where the Jansi works well with heels. It’s not a pant that works so well with boots, however. The white version of the Lorena is a lighter fabric than its indigo counterpart. I’m not wearing a cami underneath but you might find it needs one for your style confidence. I do love a knit I can throw over an outfit and be seen out of the house legitimately wearing a blanket!

Cold weather styling option: add thermal tights under pants; wear closed-in block heel pumps; add a thermal tank or cami under the top; add a coat

Adrift Kassina knit in French Navy | Adrift Maya top in navy stripe

Adrift Kassina knit in French Navy (one size) | Adrift Maya top in navy stripe (I’m in M/L – also available in XS/S and XL/2XL)

Style notes: the power of the poncho is strong. It’s a little something that can be thrown on for warmth and outfit interest without committing to a full-sleeved knit. Play around with how you position your poncho too – there’s no need to keep it front on. I find wearing it a little off the shoulder helps balance out outfit proportions.

Cool weather styling option: Add a full-sleeved knit underneath your poncho

 Adrift Aarna dress in FP print

Adrift Aarna dress in FP print (I’m in L – also available in S, M and XL and 2XL)

Style notes: this is generous-sized garment. It’s also quite long. I’m 166cm so you can see how it falls on me. To prevent overwhelm, undo a few buttons to show a bit of leg. You can completely unbutton this dress and wear as a duster jacket over jeans or ponte pants and a top. The waist can also be adjusted with the tie to be as loose or as fitted as you’d like. This dress is breast-feeding friendly. 

Cold weather styling option: Add leggings and a long-sleeved top underneath; add a long knit cardigan over the top.

Pearson dress in navy stripe

Pearson dress in navy stripe (I’m in XS/S – also available in XL/2XL and 3XL/4XL

Style notes: This is a generously sized dress for me to be in the smallest size, so adjust your sizing accordingly. This is a lightweight fabric and flows beautifully on. The gentle a-line shape is one that works for so many. If you had the summer version of this dress, you won’t want to miss this one.

Cool weather styling option: Add grey tights, a thermal top and a long, knit cardigan

So tell me, how do you do winter? Is it mild where you live? Already putting the fireplace on every night?

Location: Francesca’s Flowers, Paddington | Photographer: Sarah Keayes, The Photo Pitch | Hair and makeup: Dale Dorning, Arc Creative


Adrift has two $200 gift cards to give away to TWO Styling You readers. Simply answer the following question in the comments below.

Which of the above outfits can you most see yourself wearing this autumn-winter and why? 

Entries open on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 5am (AEST) and close on Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 5pm (AEST). Australian entries only, sorry. The two winners of the “answer the question” competition will be judged on originality and creativity. Photos can be uploaded in the comments section. The winners will be emailed and their name will be published here. Entrants must include an email address when the filling in the commenting system below to be eligible to enter. Full terms and conditions here.

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Comments 52

  1. How do i “do winter”? A glass of wine by a roaring fire with good friends, great homemade food and wearing: the Adrift ponte pants, + the Adrift white Lorena top and being very careful not to spill my wine on my new white top. Keeping it real over here in south-west WA, where it has got so chilly all of a sudden.

  2. Adrift Kassina knit in french navy and Adrift Maya top in navy stripe – the knit is versatile, can be worn with a warmer top underneath in cooler weather, can be styled off the shoulder. The Maya top suits my Gold Coast vibe as well.

  3. I love the Adrift Kassina Poncho and striped top – can you ever have enough striped tops I say ! I’m also crushing the Pearson dress as I love shibori too.

  4. When I lived in Qld I never got cold. Really – never! My body seems to retain heat. It’s awful BUT now I live in Melbourne and I do tend to feel some degree of cold in the middle of winter so it’s wonderful to pull out a cardy or two! I, too, remember keeping the windows open wide in Qld just to feel some sort of cooler breeze!!! I love the selection of layered looks you are showcasing. Perfect for Qld’ers. May the power of a poncho always rule!!!

  5. The Adrift Lorena top in Indigo with the Grey ponte pant looks lovely. I’ve just realised all my winter pants are black so trying grey would push me a little out of my comfort zone and lets be honest we all need that little push sometimes.

  6. I love the kassina knit and maya top. Add jeans and boots and it would be a great outfit for everyday wear, catching up with friends. I love the colours in these two and gives many options for the bottom half.

  7. I’m a convert to Adrift, loving the outfits.
    Am colour adding to this dedicated Melbourne black ‘cos it’s chic and slimming’ wardrobe…so that gorgeous Aarna dress, idea of wearing it as a duster coat with jeans and a top is speaking to me.
    Also, love me a stripe so definitely the Maya top…I ventured out of my comfort zone recently and bought pants in ink i.e. dark deep navy not black!!! Thank you for generous offers.

  8. Love the poncho because you can use that to hide all your bad bits in a stylish way. And it’s also great for wearing to buffets so you don’t show that you have over eaten!

  9. Hi there Nikki and Adrift,
    Being a tee, jeans and jumper girl from way back I can definitely see myself wearing the lovely Maya Top and gorgeous Kassina Knit. I’d ‘spice’ them up with a long necklace, distressed jeans and tan ankle boots – and bingo… I’d be ready to weather all autumn/winter storms. 🙂
    Cheers for now,
    Kutira xxoo

  10. I recently tried tie-dying & it isn’t as easy as I thought it would be, rubber bands & dye everywhere. Therefore i would definitely choose the beautiful Pearson Dress in Navy Stripe, & leave the creative stuff up to the professionals!

  11. Definitely the Pearson Dress in Navy Stripe. Stylish and maybe a bit forgiving of the thermal, cardi, tights and sneaky socks under boots that country Victoria requires in May. Not so sure if the usual de rigueur puffer will work though…

  12. I see myself wearing the Adrift Kassina knit in French Navy and Adrift Maya top in navy stripe because I am vertically and horizontally challenged! That is, I am short and wide! This outfit with some black pants would certainly look great and hide all the wobbly bits! lol!

  13. I would choose the Pearson dress in Navy stripe. I am just staring to wear dresses again since being a part of the capsule wardrobe. As I live in Qld and we don’t have a long winter, I know this dress will get a lot of wear throughout spring and summer too. I’m also loving the ‘dress and ankle boot’ look.

  14. I would have to say the Aarna Dress is my favourite, always a nice to play ladies in a dress, and have the perfect ladies day coming up to suit it, though I just might take a second or third glance at the Kassina Knit and Maya striped top too.

  15. Tough one, but totally see myself in the Adrift Aarna dress in FP print and particularly so as I already have those fabulous Gunmetal FRANKie4 boots! (You’ve given me yet another styling idea Nikki.) Here in Canberra it’s tempting to go heavy and dark once the chilly days arrive, but I love the lightness of this look and the cold weather styling options present many practical yet enchanting possibilities.

  16. I really liked 2 of the outfits, Adrift Aarna dress and the Adrift Lorena top with Adrift Ponte pants. I can see myself wearing these outfits or versions of them as I feel that they would suit my plus size and I really loved the colours.

  17. I am loving the Pearson dress in navy and the Lorena top in indigo. I’m a navy and grey fan.. prefer it over black. They look dressy enough for work, but still casual enough to wear for the weekend

  18. Dresses such as the Aarna dress are so versatile in the mild Sydney winter. Add tights, a scarf or other accessories and you are ready for a day at work. Throw on a jacket or coat for the commute. Lunch or a casual dinner, add leggings and a maxi cardigan and you are ready to stun your friends. Home like me, then just ,make yourself feel special and dress as if you have that special casual occasion and enjoy wearing such a fabulous dress!

  19. The Pearson would work perfectly for me. I love dresses and the easy fit and style are lovely. Layering with a scarf, jacket, poncho or coat (I live in Sydney) depending on the temperature outdoors would allow easy layers off when shopping etc as all the centres are too warm for me in the cooler weather. Heels or flats now and my boots and tights are ready for winter wear. Did I mention I love navy and was pleased to see navy, charcoal and white are a thing!

  20. Oh, the Ardarna dress. Just perfect as I love maxi dresses with boots. I usually do tights but have had a hip replacement, at the age of 48, only 4 days ago & am struggling to get pants on. It would just totally boost my mood!

  21. Hi Nikki my choice is the Adrift Benito top in navy. I ‘m thinking I am the same size as you and it looks so flattering on you. Love it with jeans/navy pants which is my everyday go to. The colour and details are so pretty it would do even in the warmer months. Sometimes this shape can make a booby gal look a bit big but this top has style and the fit looks just right.

  22. The Pearson dress is utterly gorgeous. After years of avoiding dresses (why? Was I mad?) I declared summer 16/17 “the Summer of the dress”. It was a beautiful thing, and now I’m keen for it to carry on through winter. Now I just need more dresses…

  23. Absolutely love the Lorena top and ponte pants for a ‘dressed up casual’ look. The combination looks comfortable and easy to wear dressed up or down. Even with additional layers if required I wouldn’t feel like ‘marshmallow women’!!

  24. I can absolutely see me wearing the Pearson dress, I love the freedom of movement a dress brings – my top fav for this autumn/winter will be dresses with ankle boots…I work from home so comfort and a little swish around the legs makes me feel good!

  25. Hi Nikki, I am seriously loving the cooler weather, sleeping with windows open, and driving to work at 6am with the windows down, so fresh and bracing (as my Dad would say). What a gorgeous location for your photos, I kept looking at the setting as well as you and the clothes. Great competition too, I would absolutely love the Pearson dress, it would slot straight into my wardrobe. Or the Kassina Knit or Welisa Knitted Wrap, both look so comfortable and cosy. Have a great day, Kathryn x

  26. I would love to wear the ponte pants and welisa knit with the maya top. Comfy stylish layered outfit for autumn winter. Especially at the moment in Perth, cold in the morning and warm and sunny inthe afternoon so a layered outfit would get a good workout and I can team it with ankle boots which give a stylish lift.

  27. I love the Kassina knit and Maya top! Ponchos are the best and the tip about wearing it a lot off center is genius! I what have I been doing all this time??!!

  28. My search this season for a ponte pant that suits me continues! The grey ponte pants worn by Nikki look just perfect and so very versatile. I would love to add a pair to my Autumn/Winter Capsule because I could wear them with so many other pieces to dress them up or down!

  29. I have just discovered Adrift so would lurvvvve to win the comp. I love the Kassina knit in French navy with the Maya top. The ‘Power of Poncho’ is my way to go. Thanks too for having larger sizes.

  30. The Pearson dress is lovely and looks amazing on you. However I find it so frustrating when labels are so inconsistent with sizing – how can it be that you are a size L in most items featured and size XS/S in that dress! Such a shame as it wipes out a sizeable (no pun intended) chunk of the market.

  31. The Kassina knit in Navy blue. Blue is my colour and I love navy as it becomes colder. The short sleeve is great for autumn as I often overheat in winter ponchos. I love its length! It seems like such a versatile piece for day and night, I can image dressing it up with a scarf or necklace and a colourful top underneath.

  32. The grey ponte pants (have not seen grey ) with the Kassina knit poncho and Maya stripe top.That would do afl ,netball ,work and cheeky dinner out with my husband .Just add my navy boots . Heaven

  33. The navy Benito top with its pin-tuck detail is very sweet winter treat, and definitely to my taste. It made my eyes flutter when I saw the sleeves and hem.

  34. Love them all but definitely the Pearson dress because I love it. And it would be perfect for our Brissie winter.

  35. I just lust after navy and white so the Kassina Knit with the Maya top is just the outfit to curb my cravings. Would also love the Pearson dress in navy stripe. Can’t beat a good slip on A line dress. Fabulous looks Adrift!

  36. That Aarna dress- I’m a shortie but love the idea of trying a gorgeous long dress with leggings for Melbournes cold weather!

  37. OK that Adrift Assina Knit in French Navy would solve all my problems. I work from home in the chilly Blue Mountains, sometimes tight deadlines demand back-to-back late nights and early morning starts and that sweet throw-on top would make the yoga pants look more professional, and I’d feel heaps better opening the door to pop in visitors, couriers and my son’s cool friends.

  38. Love them all. I see myself wearing the Aarna dress this winter because shirt dresses are my all-time favourite style. But, being in Melbourne, it would look very different to your pic! It’d be worn over pleggings and ankle boots, and topped off with a cardi and a beret. And it’d be so fun to start dropping the layers when spring arrives!
    Thanks for hosting the competition.

  39. Definitely 4 & 6. Loving everything stripes right now, my favourite new colour is stripes! 😉 Plus the tie dye dress is a winner for comfort with style, plus can be trans seaonal which I love.

  40. I would love to wear the Kassina knit in french navy & the Maya top in navy stripe! Looks fab and so comfy! This outfit would be perfect to hit the park with my 2 little boys. I love that I could remove the Kassina knit, and still look great, if I got a bit warm running after my boys!

  41. I think I see myself wearing that Pearson Navy dress, with ankle boots, navy tassle earrings and beige clutch purse or maybe honey coloured clutch to match my ankle boots.. I admired the dress when I saw it on Studio 10 the other day too, I think I MUST have it on ME!

  42. I can see myself living in outfit number 1. As a perimenopausal woman (OMG I’m that old!!) I need layers I can strip on and off quickly.

  43. Hi, I have looked at the ponte pants online, they seem like they are a 7/8 length on the photos. I have quite long legs and would prefer they go down to the ankle. Can anyone confirm they are full length? Thanks!

    1. Hi Carol, I’m 166cm tall and they are full length on me. The model is 175cm so they look shorter on her. If you contact Adrift direct, they could give you a leg measurement for your size.

  44. My favourite outfit of Nikki’s would be the gorgeous Kassini knit in black, paired with my Adrift pointe pants – have hardly taken them off since I bought them! A gorgeous stripe top underneath to lift the outfit, and last season’s Surafina animal pattern large square scarf for those chilly days – we have just a few here in sunny Brissy! Then if the weather is warmer, I take off the knit, and still have the gorgeous scarf to wrap around the shoulders .. great options Adrift !

  45. I love the Aarana maxi dress,it would be gorgeous with a suede look vest or cape and boots…great tips Nikki.

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