Who says you have to sacrifice style for warmth?
When one hears the term “Southern belle,” it typically brings to mind an image of the most famous fictional heroine—Scarlett O’Hara. Although much has changed in the South since the Civil War and Reconstruction era depicted in Gone with the Wind, one thing that remains the same is a commonly shared dress aesthetic among women below the Mason-Dixie. While we’re not exactly reaching for the green drapes (à la O’Hara) to whip up a fancy, wide-hooped frock, the act of balancing soft and strong or charming and wholesome is still something modern-day belles strive for when getting dressed.
But as seen with Tara’s fashionable and beloved hostess, winter can put a damper on your wardrobe. However, just because you’re dealing with ice and extremely cold weather, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dresses or turn to the curtains. You can still embody feminine and flirty styles without being too exposed in winter, doing so with the same grace and grit as Mama and the O’Haras in times past. Here are nine dress styles and fabrics that every Southern woman should have in her closet this season. The only things missing are the pearls, scarves, and boots.
Lace is a bastion of Southern tradition, but it's often relegated to spring and summer. Make the seasonal switch while sticking to your roots by donning a mid-length lace dress in a dark hue, layering it with the appropriate outerwear.
2. High-Neck Swing Dress
A swing skirt is a simple and classic silhouette, not to mention it’s roomy, comfortable, and totally on-trend. The high neckline will keep your top half covered when temperatures bottom out.
3. White Formal Gown
Besides prom and graduation, another event high schoolers typically anticipate is the winter formal dance. Whether you go for a short, fit and flare dress with a high neckline or a full-length gown with cap sleeves, white is sleek and the perfect hue to embrace winter.
4. Cocktail Dress
If you're not an adolescent but plan to attend plenty of winter parties this season, long-sleeve, knee-length dresses will have you kicking off cocktail hour in style.
Obviously one of the most popular, go-to fabrics is suede. It’s fail-proof, warm, and versatile. And let’s be honest: We’ve all owned a suede jumper (or two) in our lifetime. Thanks, mom. Luckily, they’re back in style to wear as an adult without any judgment.
6. Flared or Buttoned Sleeves
Take a fashionable cue from the always stylish Kate Middleton, who embraced the long sleeved, buttoned trend during her own wedding and for her latest stint as an impromptu bridesmaid for sister, Pippa. Graduated, billowy sleeves are an elegant way to get all gussied up while keeping your arms covered in subzero temperatures.
7. Knit or Wool
Like suede, your winter wardrobe wouldn’t be complete without a soft knit or striped wool dress. They pair well with leggings, and the thick material will keep you warm, snug, and cozy, until the first sign of spring.
8. Folk Dress
No longer the outdoor uniform for homesteaders in the deep South. The folk dress has evolved into a chic style statement, featuring beautiful prints, patterns, colors, and lengths that are cold-weather approved.
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9. Pussy-Bow Peplum Dress
You can’t go wrong with this uber feminine, retro dress, especially when a necktie is involved. With its bell sleeves, flared hemline, and flattering cinched waist, this timeless style is the epitome of Southern gentility.