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How to Layer Clothing for a Fashionable Look during all Seasons

Updated on January 29, 2013

Adding Texture, Color, and Style with Layering

If you start studying the most fashionable people you know or spot on the street, you'll eventually notice they have one thing in common: they put together interesting, multifaceted outfits by layering, no matter the season. Simple outfits can pop--a sharp sheath with a bright shoe or statement jewelry, for example--but truly eye-catching looks intermingle texture, color, and fit to create a unique look.

A camisole is a great base piece of layering clothing for making interesting spring outfits.
A camisole is a great base piece of layering clothing for making interesting spring outfits. | Source

Fashionable Clothing Layers in Spring

Spring is the season when we start ditching our wool coats, scarves, and gloves and remembering how good it feels to lose five pounds in fabric. Since the weather is still likely cool and crisp, at least in the morning, it's a great season for fashionable layering.

As with any ensemble, start with a base piece--a camisole will smooth out any bumps or lines and also provide some coverage to make a short or dress work appropriate, if needed. Pair a sheer patterned shirt with a camisole in a contrasting color, or pair an opaque shirt with a lace-trimed camisole for a hint of femininity. Top that with a cardigan or structured jacket, add a pair of tailored pants or a chic pencil skirt, and you're on your way to turning heads!

When layering with camisoles and a shirt, it works best if the shirt is a bit loose (though not so loose to look sloppy). If both the camisole and the shirt are fitted, you'll get rolls and bulges in the fabric.

You can do the same cami-cardigan trick with a dress, adding dimension and color to what would otherwise be a simple outfit.

Remember also that an interesting outfit incorporates not just color, but texture--don't go all knit, all silk, or all anything! Instead, mix your materials to give your outfit visual and textile interest.

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Fashionable Clothing Layers in Summer

Wait, wait, you may be saying--you live somewhere that's sweltering hot in the summer (Houston? Phoenix?). There's no way you can layer without melting into a puddle on the sidewalk. Actually, there ARE ways to layer in the summer that are comfortable and fashionable.

When it's hot out, you won't want to throw on a cami under a dress or shirt--it's just another layer of heat. However, you can get the same look with a bandeau top, which slips over the head and just covers the bust. Bandeau tops come in a variety of colors and textures, including lace, and you can find them at stores like Nordstrom or Urban Outfitters. Short-sleeved, light-weight cardians are also a good summer layering option--you can fold one neatly in your bag and slip it on once you reach your destination.

Another way to layer in the summer to create visual interest is with jewelry--pile on bangles, or add a few multi-strand necklaces of different lengths to your dress.

Those two simple, sweat-free tips can keep you layered and stylish even in the hottest weather!

Layering Clothes Fashionably: Tips from New York

Fall is the best season for layering clothes fashionably. Mix tweed with silk, cardigans with camis, and tights to dresses and skirts.
Fall is the best season for layering clothes fashionably. Mix tweed with silk, cardigans with camis, and tights to dresses and skirts. | Source

Fashionable Clothing Layers in Fall

Fall, when the leaves begin to turn and a chill laces the air, is the absolute best season for fashionable layering. While summer clothes are designed to show skin and winter clothes are designed to cover as much as possible, fall clothes are the perfect in-between--cozy outfits that aren't too bulky.

In fall, you will have a range of textures, styles, and fits to choose from. Try a tie-neck blouse under a tweed jumper, or a silk shirt tucked into a wool houndstooth skirt. Spice up a simple T-shirt and jeans outfit with a statement scarf and a patterned cardigan.

Fall is also a great time to add belts to your wardrobe--over cardigans, dresses, and long shirts they add both a waist and a point of visual interest.

Finally, in fall you can have fun with tights--different colors, textures, and patterns can add a great amount of panache to any outfit (just don't overdo it--if your tights are a crazy print or a bright color, let them steal the show. Don't have an equally loud print on your top half compete for attention).

Wondering how to layer in winter? A chic scarf is stylish with almost any outfit, but also consider texture, color, and fit.
Wondering how to layer in winter? A chic scarf is stylish with almost any outfit, but also consider texture, color, and fit. | Source

Fashionable Clothing Layers in Winter

Winter is perhaps the hardest season in which to fashionably layer, because warmth becomes paramount to fashion for many of us. Bulky sweaters, thick coats, and a reliance on wool pants can put is in a winter style rut. However, layering can bring fashion to winter clothes just as it can to outfits in every other season!

When it's frosty outside, start again with your camisole base. Add a V-neck or scoop neck sweater in a lighter knit, and top that with a fitted jacket. Add a statement necklace to the mix with your choice of bottoms, and you've got a chic, eye-catching ensemble.

Add a belt to sweater dresses, and a pair of patterned tights--herringbone, floral, or basic black, depending what you're comfortable in given the dress code in your office (although if you're on your own time, any type of tight goes!). To give the sweater dress a professional look, you can layer a button-down shirt under it if the dress's collar is simple.

Even a peacoat or trench coat can be lightly layered with a preppily tied scarf!

Final Layering Tips

As you have learned, layering can be appropriate for all seasons and can take an outfit to the next level in terms of fashion and style. Stay mindful of texture, color, and fit, mixing loose pieces with fitted pieces, silk with wool, and patterns with neutrals to achieve the most visual interest. Take cues from mannequins, stylish friends, and women on the street who catch your eye. Soon you'll be layering effortlessly and inspiring others as well.


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