Unlock Your Wardrobe’s Potential: Mastering the Art of Layering

It’s the end of the year. We’re approaching the holidays, and it is getting colder. So we are pulling out our most cozy items from storage. Layering is the only way to go.

While layering is most commonly used in Autumn and Winter, you can use it all year round. You’ll know that I always suggest layering to create a stylish outfit if you’ve read my “How to” articles. However, I have never really explained the process of layering. Until now.

This week I will give you tips on how to layer your items to create cute and interesting outfits. Here are my top layering tips!

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Photo: Instagram

What is layering and what is its purpose?

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Photo: Instagram

It is exactly what it sounds. Fashion-wise, layering is adding clothing or accessories on top of an outfit.

The need to stay warm led to the creation of layering. Fashionistas have used it to create fun and interesting looks.

Layering is more than just a way to keep warm.

First, by adding layers to a simple outfit, you can transform it quickly into a look that is effortless and put together.

Second, and more importantly, if you ask my opinion, layering can be sustainable. The pieces you have in your wardrobe will be given a new lease of life and the items can be used to their fullest. It reduces unnecessary spending and gives you more space in your wardrobe.

What to do when you want to layer: Tips, tricks, and hacks for layering:

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Photo: Instagram

Although layering seems simple, it can be difficult to master (at first). How do you layer like an expert?

You can learn to layer your clothing by following these tips:

1. Add two items to the base.

Begin with a basic outfit. Add two more pieces to your outfit to elevate it. Accessories and smaller items also count.

2. Fabrics are important.

Layering fabrics is a great way to add texture and dimension. You should consider the thickness, composition and texture of the fabrics.

3. Make sure that your layers are visible.

Imagine this as the layers of a layer cake. As you can see in a cake’s tiers, your layers should work together. Use different lengths and sizes to achieve this.

4. Play with proportions

You can use proportions to your advantage by being smart. Use oversized jackets and coats with chunkier knits. The extra space will allow the sweater to fit comfortably, while also balancing the fit of your coat.

5. Fashionable contrasts for different purposes

Don’t be afraid to mix patterns, colors and styles. By layering, you can experiment with mixing patterns and add color to neutral looks. When you combine tailored pieces with casual clothing, the visual impact is great.

Example of Layering Outfits

Here are some pictures of me showing you how to layer your outfits in a stylish, modern way.

Please note that I live in an area with a mild climate, so these tips are not intended for extreme weather. You can modify these tips for cold or temperate climates.

1. Easy: T-Shirt, Jeans, Button-Down, Blazer

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Let’s begin with a simple way to layer. Add two pieces to a basic base.

When you want something quick and comfortable, your outfit base could be a combination. This is probably a T-shirt, tank top, and jeans for me and you.

How do you layer that?

Check out this outfit that I designed. This outfit is very simple: A white cotton tank and faded black momjeans.

Before choosing my layering items, I decided what I wanted them to be: effortless street style, comfortable, and easy. I started by wearing a powder-blue button-up. Next, I selected a grey jacket with a subtle pattern. In order to match the style and layers of my look, I chose black glittery socks with a pair black clogs.

This layered look is not “out there” as you can see. It’s made up of items that we all own. By layering, however, I was able to create a certain look and feel. Although the shirt and blazer were formal, pairing them with more casual pieces brought them down.

The shirt and jacket cut off my legs at an odd place. So I went with the clogs. To achieve a longer-looking leg, I used black socks and shoes to create a vertical line. Here’s an example of how to balance out your look by choosing the right clothes and layers.

2. Easy: Pants with Button-Down, Sweater and Accessories

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After you’ve seen how to layer with a base, two additional items and a scarf, let’s talk about why fabrics and accessories are important.

Be mindful when choosing your clothing and accessories.

To create this look, I began with an oversize, white cotton shirt, and corduroy navy trousers. The white shirt was half-tucked and I added a navy sweater that I also tucked in a little. Then I added navy blue socks in a fuchsia pattern with flamingos. To finish the look, I added a fuchsia-colored crossbody bag.

The clothing is loose and oversized. In general, there’s a lot extra fabric. Half-tucking the shirt and sweater at the same angle gave me a little bit of a waist. The different textures in these items, with this much fabric of the same color as the sweater and shirt, help me to not look like one monolithic color.

Fabrics are important, and not just for warmth or comfort.

The accessories are a great way to add color to your outfit. The bag is a great way to layer. This helps to continue the illusion of cinching without adding an item of clothing that may not fit with the look.

3. Easy: Midi Dress, Sweater, Accessories

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Let’s use everything we learned about layering to help transition an item from Spring/Summer into Fall/Winter.

I love loose-fitting midi and long dresses. They are so cute and comfortable, but they’re usually made from thin material.

The best dresses to transition from Spring/Summer into Autumn/Winter are midi and long dresses. They have many hidden layers, and they’re very versatile.

This look was created by wearing my favorite dress. This is a floral black and white dress. The dress was so neutral that I wanted to add some color. I used an oversized hot pink sweater. I used to try to tuck the sweater in with elastics but decided to leave it like it is.

I then added a crossbody bag in black to tighten my waist. To tie everything together, I added a pair pink socks and white sneakers.

It’s a cute and simple look, isn’t it? It is easy to replicate and you can add more layers to make it warmer.

The accessories and shoes that I selected are the only reason why this outfit looks good. The bag, socks and sneakers are all different colours, but they echo the colors in the dress or sweater.

4. Medium: Mini Dress, Collared Shirt, Coat

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Now, how do we handle mini dresses or skirts? As many of you do, I also have a few mini-pieces that I want to wear but, if the weather is too cold, they will sit in my closet.

Wear a minidress in the cooler months by using the same layering techniques we have discussed above.

I chose one piece to be the focal point of this look and then built the rest around it.

This map-pattern button-up shirt in blue, with a variety of pastel shades, was the focal point of this look. Next, I added a cotton shift in a subtle yellow. I wore mustard yellow socks with off-white loafers to continue the warm, muted yellows. To balance out the blue in the shirt, I added an oversized denim jacket.

This outfit includes all my previous advice. The dress and coat were chosen to match the colors of the shirt. All the fabrics are organic and slightly thin so the shirt will not be scrunched up under the dress. The shoes and accessories complete the look by reiterating the colors of the other items.

If it had been much colder I would have added tights and a warm coat. You can create the same outfit by using neutral or colored tights, depending on your palette.

5. Medium: Mini Skirt, Shirt, Vest

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Let’s look at the example of a layer cake to see how we can apply this concept.

I like to think of layers as tiers in a cake. Each layer in the best layered looks has a specific purpose and can be clearly seen as it relates to the others.

You must take into account the size and fit of the clothing you are styling.

For my example of a layer cake, I wanted to use a black and white look that would show each tier clearly.

I started by wearing the white cotton shirt from the second look and paired it up with a faux leather miniskirt in black. Then I added an oversized knit black vest. To make it more cozy, I added white socks and a pair black sheer tights with polka dots. Finaly, I added a black knitted hat and a pair black platform boots.

Take a look at the items that make up this look. Everything is perfectly positioned so that you can see everything else. The vest is slightly longer than the shirt which, in turn is slightly shorter that the skirt.

Three main items with different textures give the outfit movement and interest. The texture of the headband is similar to the knit of the vest. Both the skirt and boots have faux leather and the socks are made of white cotton. Subtle details create a well-put together outfit.

Also, quick FYI. The same white cotton shirt was perfect for two different outfits thanks to layering. It is a great example of how layering can multiply the use of a single item. You will save so much money by doing this!

6. Difficulty: Cropped Sweater (Short), Button-Down Shirt (Long), Jeans, Coat

Add the layers vertically to show them off.

The lines in the previous outfit were all horizontal. What if there are no items in the right length?

What do we do about our statement pieces as well? What about our metallics or sequins, for example? This outfit will tell you:

This look was based on a statement piece. This silver chainmail top. I then added wide-leg tailored jeans. These jeans are very high-waisted and hit exactly where the top ends. The first layer I wear is an oversize royal blue shirt, with silver buttons. The next layer is a slightly longer navy blue coat than the shirt. The accessories include a silver bag, and silver cowboy boot.

To create balance, I follow the rule “three” when I layer a more sophisticated outfit.

Three blue items are present in this outfit: one on the bottom of the outfit and two on top (above my waist). Three silver items are also present: one on top, and two below my waist. These items balance out the material, shine and amount of denim in the top.

7. Colorblock Layered Outfit

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In styling the looks before, I didn’t focus too much on color. Let’s try it now.

When layering, there are two approaches to color. You can take inspiration from your own patterned clothing, like I did for the outfit #1. You can also use color theory to create layers. For more information, please read my article on Color Block Outfits.

We’ll go for color blocking and color theories since we already chose the first option.

The same powder blue shirt that I wore in the first outfit was used to create the colorblock layered look. Then I put on a red knit dress. To add more layers, I added a wine red leather coat. To tie it all together, I added navy and burgundy sock, patent leather loafers and a navy purse.

The proportions and color balance of this outfit are what make it work. Blue and red, both primary colors, look great together. However, you should be aware of the brightness of your palette to create cohesion.

Layering allows me to create a completely different look for each outfit. Versatility is the key.

8. All Denim Layered Outfit

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In my final look, I wanted show how fabric, color, and fit give purpose and intention to a layered outfit.

You can create incredibly stylish looks by combining your wardrobe and styling skills.

Here’s a breakdown of the look I wore recently to work. Yes, this is a casual workplace.

I first paired these mom jeans in medium wash with a medium wash denim shirt. The shirt was tucked into the jeans and buttoned up. My first layer was a medium-wash denim jacket that I had recently sewn. Next, I added another medium-wash denim vest (are you noticing a pattern yet?) denim blazer.

To really bring this Canadian tuxedo up to the next level, I added a navy-blue and off-white polka-dot tie. I wore navy blue and off-white sneakers and an off-white leather belt to tie the outfit together.

This outfit represents layering for me. This is a cool, fun outfit that I did not buy. All the items I wore I had in my closet but never thought of pairing together.

One day I got an idea and pulled out the items to see if there was a match. All of the denim pieces matched perfectly! The vest and blazer fit perfectly, allowing the rest of the outfit to be a part of the overall look.

I urge you to try similar experiments in your wardrobe! It can take a lot to experiment with layering, but it is worth the effort. You can create some amazing outfits by trying.

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