The ‘in-between’ seasons are often the worst. Autumn is upon us and it’s not quite cold enough to fully commit to the chunky knits, but the warmth of summer has retired for another year.
During this time, you see people jumping straight into their winter coats. Don’t be one of these people. It’s the in-between seasons where you can spot who is really rocking it in the style stakes.
Protip | It’s a great time to observe stylish people and gather inspiration.
One of the easiest ways of identifying the sartorial elite is to look at who’s layering. Layering is one of those great techniques that’s functional yet leaves you looking chic. It’s the perfect way of looking cool while also providing flexibility for those pesky transitional seasons.
It forces a budding fashionista to be creative; considering how each piece will drape, what pieces will be visible and also gauge the fabrics that will either keep you cool or warm. The payoff – carefully considering each outfit ups your ‘Style IQ’. The more you do it the better you’ll get at judging what items are prime for layering, pulling off ever more stylish outfits in the process.
So, layering is the shit, and on paper, it’s pretty simple. But there are a few considerations you should make to ensure you look like one of the pros.
How to layer
There are two types of layering you may want to consider:
- Vertical layering
- Horizontal layering
Recognising vertical layering is easy, look out for layers that create a curtain effect. If you’ve used vertical layering you should be able to see each vertical line or set of curtains that make up the outfit.
A basic example might be:
- Foundation layer: A vest
- The second layer: An unbuttoned denim shirt
- The top layer: A trench coat
Horizontal layering is when you have the horizontal lines of the layers visible in an outfit.
Here’s a basic example:
- Foundation layer: A long line t-shirt or vest
- Top layer: A shorter sweater
With this look, there are two breaks or horizontal lines created by the hems of the long line tee and then the shorter sweater.
How many pieces do I layer with?
The number of items you choose to layer with can determine whether you look like an inflated puffa fish or Pinterest worthy pin-up. So how many pieces of clothing should you use to create a layered outfit?
3 to 4 pieces.
Any more and your clothes won’t sit right, causing you to look like a stuffed animal. If you’re going to layer 4 pieces try and make sure they’re not bulky or the bulkiest layer is reversed for the top layer only.
Here’s a basic example of a layered outfit with 4 pieces:
- Foundation layer: A blouse, t-shirt or a dress
- The second layer: Might be an open blouse or cardigan
- The third layer: Might be a lightweight jacket
- The fourth layer: This will be your top layer which usually consists of a coat
Think about necklines when putting your outfits together, consider how they’re going to look in the final outfit. Experiment with your necklines to see what works best for you. Generally, having them stepped a similar distance apart is a good approach to take if you’re unsure.
Button up shirts or blouses are a really flexible option. You can create varying necklines by leaving different buttons open.
Another watch out is hardware or details on the clothes. If they don’t match or if they’re not similar it can look a bit strange. For example, pairing a leather jacket with gold hardware on top of a blouse or cardigan with pearl buttons may look jarring.
I’m not going to highlight what specific pieces are great for layering. It doesn’t feel right to me. You should focus on using clothes that fit your style. Saying you absolutely need a trench coat or whatever other pieces you usually see in these types of articles wouldn’t be much help.
A trench coat may not fit into your personal style or aesthetic. Instead, your focus should be looking at what clothes you already own and enjoy wearing then practising building layered outfits with said clothes.
However, there are a few ideas I can share that will give you something to consider while building your own layered outfits.
01 | Experiment with textures
An outfit entirely made of one colour in different textures can look really chic and well put together.
02 | Play with different lengths
Outfits that feature a mix of shorter and longer lengths, displaying and highlighting different layers can look fantastic. Again, when doing this think about textures and give some consideration to colour.
03 | Colours can play a massive part in layering
Think about what colours you want to use for each layer. One great way of using colour is taking one colour and applying it to each layer in a different tone.
An example may be:
- Foundation layer: Bold orange blouse
- The second layer: Dusty orange merino knit
- Top layer: Burnet orange coat
Alternatively, think about contrasting bold colours in the lower foundation layers. Creating bold highlights that pop through.
04 | Shear items are great to use when layering
You don’t have to worry about exposing any bare skin and you can throw them on top of various different items.
So layering is a great way of elevating transitional season outfits and they force you to be creative and put some thought behind each outfit you create. The only way you’ll get good at this is by experimenting and trying different combinations.
So here’s some homework. Put together 3 layered outfits using the techniques in this post and the clothes in your wardrobe.
Come back and let me know in the comments below what outfits you came up with. I’d love to hear about your favourites.