I have a secret. I was not born knowing how to layer. (I was, however, born knowing how to accessorize and apply liquid liner, but that’s a different story). Learning to layer, for me, has been largely a result of practice and a little trial and error. Using J. Crew, Anthropologie and top fashion sites as my study guides, I have mastered a few tricks that can take ordinary separates and turn them into super-stylish outfits, layering separates and accessories. Here, the secrets of layering, revealed.
1. Start with 5 Simple Basics
Many of the chic-est layering looks start with the same basic pieces. Here, a few of the key layering essentials:
A. The White Shirt
Layer this under or over a dress, or under a sweater, vest or jacket, this is the foundation to so many looks.
Styling tip: When slipping a sweater over a button down, add a snug cami or tank in between to minimize puffiness and create a more streamlined look.
B. The Vest
A black vest is at once trendy and classic. The most timeless style is the black sweater vest, or try a trendier puffer vest, a fur or shearling vest or a tweedy vest. Either way, they can be layered over dresses and under jackets to add extra interest and style.
A sleek classic style like this tweed blazer can top everything from a dress to a sweater, and will look great for years.
D. The Coat
A simple topper in a pretty hue upgrades everything you wear it with.
E. The Scarf
A patterned scarf adds color, texture and style.
2. Mix Them Up
Using these items and your existing wardrobe, you can trying layering to create multiple combinations. Here are just a few examples of the ways you can incorporate these five pieces into your wardrobe.
Styling Tip: Look on Pinterest and in favorite catalogs and magazines for outfit ideas, and try to reproduce them with pieces you have. Chances are, you already have variations on many of these pieces – you are just not wearing them all together. Another note: Proportion matters. Petites cannot layer multiple heavy or long layers without looking overwhelmed. Keep pieces tailored rather than oversized for maximum flattery.
3. Layer Your Accessories
Truly stylish women have learned to bring their own unique flair to everything they wear, and one of the easiest ways to do this is with accessories. As promised yesterday when we talked about updating your accessories, here, some hints on how to wear them.
A. Pick the Right Necklace for the Top
As a rule, short necklines (scoop, crew, round, button-down buttoned up to neck) call for short necklaces, while long necklines (jacket opening, button-down left unbuttoned at top, v-necks) work best with longer necklaces. A turtleneck is the exception, because it always looks best with a long necklace.
B. Find Balance
Choose statement earrings or a statement necklace – never both. As a general rule, a statement necklace calls for small, subtle earrings and no other jewelry. Statement earrings mean you should skip the necklace and add a bracelet instead. If you choose to wear a cocktail ring, wear it on the non-bracelet hand, unless that hand already has your wedding ring on it.
C. Layer Your Jewelry
One of the most stylish ways to wear your jewelry is to pile it on, but there is an art to layering. A single delicate necklace can fill in the space of a neckline, or layer a few for more impact. A good rule is to make each subsequent necklace about 4-6 inches longer than the other. For example, layer your 16″ chain with a 20″ and a 24″, or go ultra long with a 36″ necklace. Another key to layering is to find one unifying element – usually, the metal or a color. Then mix up the shapes, colors, textures, etc. to make the look interesting. When stacking bracelets, choose a couple of dainty ones and one statement piece, and throw a watch in the mix.
Inspired? Try these layering tricks with the clothes and accessories you already have in your closet, then keep a running shopping list of anything you’re missing. Keep it on your phone, and you’ll have it with you the next time you go shopping!
Nada Manley says
Thanks so much Stephanie! That totally made my day. 🙂 So glad you are finding the tips and the site helpful! I am really passionate about helping other moms look and feel amazing.
I know how you feel about the fine line between too old and too young. It’s a delicate one and I try to address it whenever I can. I think the key, in most cases, is degrees. In our 40s and 50s, we can wear most things, just not every trend all at once. LOL If you’re looking for specific tips or outfit ideas, feel free to send me an email! I am always looking for blog post ideas and would love to hear from you!
Stephanie Farrell says
I too LOVE your tip on wearing a fitted camisole over your blouse, under a sweater or an other article of clothing your layering it with! I love the look but I avoid it because of the bunching, it’s so uncomfortable and makes me self-conscious.
I enjoy checking out your style secrets and tips. Seeing the outfits you put together, are great for my imagination on things to wear together in my wardrobe.
At 53 years old and the mother of 4 grown children and 2 grandchildren, I don’t want to dress too old but there is a fine line not wanting to dress too young also.
Thanks for all your advice. I enjoy reading and looking at the clothes you share. Keep up the good work ?
Maralee McKee says
I’m loving your “30 Days to Gorgeous Mom Style” series! Thank you so much for writing and sharing it!
I especially wanted to say thank you for the tip today about wearing a snug fitting camisole between a button-down shirt and the item you’re layering over it. I adore the look but never wear it because every time I tried, the shirt always puffed up and seemed to add an extra 10-pounds to my frame.
Thank you so much for sharing the stylists secret to making the look work. I and my wardrobe thank you!!!!