Want to know how to layer like a pro and make the most of your wardrobe at the same time? Then you’ve came to the right place.
Most people seem to reserve layering for the transition from Summer to Autumn, but not only is it ideal for Winter to Spring but it’s also a handy skill to have all year round – especially if, like us, you’re in the UK where you can need thermals one day and a pair of shorts the next.
Layering can take on many forms and can be as basic or as complicated as you want it to be. Whether you’re a straight forwards jumper over a shirt kinda person, or you’re itching to try out the whole two skirts on top of a dress on top of a jumper under a coat kinda vibe, we’re here to help you get inspired.
What is it?
In its essence, layering is simply a great way to be able to prepare for all weathers whilst also making use of your wardrobe all year long. Rather than relegating your Summer dresses to a storage box 9 months of the year, or banishing your knitwear under the bed as soon as March hits, you can mix and match them all to create outfit after outfit that look fresh and new without spending a penny. Not only is this great for you bank balance, but it helps you maintain a more sustainable wardrobe AND get your cost per wear up. Not bad, eh?
Some of the most effective layering is done in a basic way. Pick two to three items and simply layer them one after the other. Stick to one area of the body to layer as it adds shape and stops you looking bulky and misshapen all over – if you’re going for your top half, that means knitwear, outerwear and tops. For your lower half (yes it’s possible) think dresses, slip skirts, tights and shorts. And that’s truly it.
If you’re new to the layering game, starting with a simple shirt or blouse (most people suggest a plain or neutral one, but personally we love a bright pink or printed version instead) then pick a jumper or sweater vest to go over the top. It can be a contrasting colour, printed, or the same colour – quite literally anything goes. Leave your shirt peeking out the bottom to add different visual layers to your outfit – don’t forget, you want people to know you’re layering! Finally pick a longline coat to throw over the top – again, any colour, print or style works, but if you’re not sure, stick to a neutral, like a trench coat. You can apply this to anything – swap the jumper for a blazer or scrap the shirt and wear a gilet over the top of your coat instead.
Try Two of a Kind
A step up from the basic game is to layer two of the same type of garment over each other. For dresses, this can mean pairing a sheer, floaty dress over a more fitted one. For skirts, you can later a structured leather mini over a satin slip. If you’re trying to combat the cold, layering outerwear is always a great look – coats over blazers (or blazers over coats if you’ve got a particularly over sized one!), gilets over trenches, cardigans under shackets over coats. The combinations are truly endless, and this is one of the quickest and easiest ways to give your outfit a street style worthy boost. Plus, you get to stay extra warm or can remove the layers if the unthinkable happens and the weather actually turns out *gasp* nice.
Play Up Textures
A great way to elevate your layering looks without piling on the bulk is to play with textures instead. Choose polar opposites for the chicest style – sequins under velvet, taffeta with leather, cotton with fur etc. and play around with proportions and shapes to give them a real boost. This is also a great way of re-wearing pieces that would typically be more evening wear! We’re all guilty of saving pieces for “best” or for drinks after dark, so if you have a sequin dress that you love but have only been able to wear it out out, try putting it underneath a cashmere vest or over some leather trousers for a look that’s unique and edgy but still definitely fine to wear for brunch.
If you’re looking for some interesting layering techniques but don’t want to have to think too hard about it, here’s a quick go to list of things to try:
Underwear as Outerwear – throw a bralette over a t-shirt for an easy way to make something boring looking more interesting, or a kimono over a dress with a gilet on top.
Double Coat It – start with a blazer (you can wear it buttoned and belted as a dress if it’s oversized or you don’t want too much bulkiness) then pick a coat in a contrasting colour. If you can, put the blazer lapels over your coat ones for an added interesting detail
The Rule of Three – Pick three items you haven’t worn in a while, and work out how you can make them all work together. Stick to the same colour palette if you're feeling a bit intimidated - that way, you know they'll all work together.
If in Doubt, Dress it Up – Dresses are god’s gift to layering. They work over trousers and t shirts, under other dresses or skirts, and can add colour, print and shape effortlessly. If you’re stuck, just throw a dress over the top.