We live in a Country where weather is a huge topic of conversation, and so we all need an outfit that will work all day and night regardless of what is going on outside. Temperature shifts like that call for layering… and I simply adore layering.
The big, fluffy sweaters atop a tight tank. The ripped jeans with patterned tights or fishnets underneath. The bomber jacket over a cropped sweatshirt. The T-shirt paired with a natural-waisted pair of boyfriend jeans, with ankles rolled up, showing off your colorful socks. You really can have fun with layering. I especially enjoy it because I love to keep clothes from prior seasons in my closet, and layering allows me to still wear as part of a layered ensemble what might otherwise be a bit too dated to wear on its own.
You can truly get creative with layering. Almost anything goes, and it can be ridiculously fun! That being said, here are my top five layering rules to remember:
Rule One: The Plot Thickens
Remember that layering adds thickness. If you don’t want to look like an overinflated balloon, be sure to layer thin fabrics underneath thicker ones. Also remember to make the thin layers more form fitting than the top layer. Finally, make sure that top layer has a little bit of breathing room, so you don’t see all the creases and everything else that can accumulate from all the layers underneath, no matter what shape you’re in.
Rule Two: Your Bottom is the Tops
Generally speaking, if you do all your layering on your top half, then simplify your lower half with something slimming, like a skirt or trousers. You want people to be able to tell where you start and the layering begins, and vice versa. Simply put, going baggy on both top and bottom will make you look precisely like a potato sack. And an un-stylish potato sack, at that.
Rule Three: Mixing Business and Pleasure
Always mix textures. Always! Example: denim on the bottom; jersey tee, cotton sweater, leather jacket and silk scarf on the top. Get texture crazy. If you wear all of one fabric, you will come off a bit flat and washed out, or – worse yet – appear too matchy-matchy. Wearing all of one texture is to be avoided at all costs, because it will not only make you look drab, it will also add weight. Horror of horrors.
Rule Four: The Long and the Short of It
Have a variety of lengths. You want to make sure your layers have complementing proportionate hemlines that are different from one another. In short, you want people to know you’re layering, as opposed to you just having gained three layers worth of weight. If you layer three tops over one another and they all end at the same length, instead of looking stylish, you will look stockier, boxier and heavier. Avoid.
Rule Five: Cut from the Same Cloth
Choose appropriate fabrics. For example, when layering a button up shirt under a sweater, make sure the button up is not too heavy, or every button, wrinkle and fold will show through to the top layer. Ew. If your top layer is thick like a cable knit, you can get away with almost anything underneath, but if it’s fine like merino wool, you’ll want a smooth, lightweight shirt underneath – something like a non-slubby silk (satin, crêpe) or lightweight cotton (Batiste, lawn, voile). After all, there’s a reason the saying goes “smooth as silk.”
Bonus Rule: Cute As A Button (Up)
Simple crew neck sweaters look great with a collared, button up shirt peeking through at the neck, with the cuffs folded up and the hem showing underneath. Make sure the shirt is not too short or too long under the sweater. Ideally, you’ll be able to see the natural split of the shirt at the bottom, but have the lowest button covered by the sweater. Fold the cuffs over the arm of the sweater to give it a cohesive look. Make sure your collar is crisp and don’t let it splay all over the place, or risk looking sloppy, which is a fashion crime. Keep it in place by buttoning it up to the top, or near the top. My favorite secret for layering button ups is to wear a fitted tank top over your button up and under your sweater to hide any visible bumps from seams and buttons. No one will see it, but you’ll look sleek.
Personally, I love the effortless layered look of a netted sweater with a tank underneath, and either a cropped jacket or super long flowing cardigan on top, with jeans and ankle boots on the bottom. It’s a look that can work with lots of body types and is easy to throw together, plus is super warm and cozy.
Speaking of warmth, I find that when layering for the cold, merino wool works best. It’s much warmer than anything else out there, and isn’t bulky. It’s a bit pricier than other fabrics, but you can get away with having just one or two for the season, as it’s naturally anti-bacterial and wicks away moisture, so you don’t need to wash it as much as other articles of clothing.
A Few Layering Combos To Ponder
- Bring your summer dress into winter by adding an open button up (chambray), a thick cardigan (also open), winter tights and boots.
- Wear shorts year-round by putting leggings under them. Top with knee high socks and boots for a cute bottom half. Pair on top with a fitted tank and an oversized sweater.
- You can even layer multiple tights under shorts or a skirt by putting a patterned or shimmery pair under a netted pair. Don’t go overboard with this, or you won’t be able to bend your knees.
- For a more fitted look, add a thin belt to a cardigan that’s been layered over a form fitting knit top.
The ideas for layering are endless, but keep to the rules above and you should be fine to get as creative as you want. Most importantly, commit to your look so it appears intentional. There’s nothing worse than layering that seems like you’re wearing whatever happened to be clean that day.
Finally, don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns. There are rules on how to do this properly… but we’ll save that for another day.