how to layer clothes

 a layered outfit is all laid out

Layering clothes creates a multidimensional, chic, and unique look. It’s a fun way for the wearer to express personal style, whether sophisticated or rebellious, plan oriented or whimsical. If you’re feeling like learning how to layer clothes is a daunting task, then read on for some tips and tricks to help you unleash your comfortable and confident inner fashionista.

Understanding The Basics

What is the goal of your layering? Is it cold outside? Will you be out in inclement weather? Is it going to get hot later in the day, or do you have a more formal event to go to later on? Answers to all these questions will help inform how and what kinds of layers you want to add to your outfit.

Go For Layers That Are Versatile

Layering is meant to be practical and fashionable. So make it work for you. Your outermost layers are going to be things like jackets, coats, sweaters, hats, and scarves, depending on the weather conditions. Ideally, you want an outfit that mixes textures and fabrics to compliment your shape. You also want to be able to remove articles of clothing easily. And always remember, each piece should make you feel confident, comfortable, and kept at just the right temperature.

What Are The Best Combinations?

Here are some basic guidelines to help you find layering combinations that work for you:

  • Mix neutrals of different tones. Basic neutrals are browns, blacks, grays, and navy blue. Traditional thought is to pair similar neutral tones sparingly.
  • Balance colors by matching the color in one garment with the same shade somewhere else in the outfit. For example, a vibrant, multicolored pair of pants are great to coordinate with a top or jacket that has one of those same colors. You can also pair your shoes to match another color in the pants and match your scarf to match yet another color. This type of balancing gives the outfit symmetry, flair, and a splash of your personal signature.

What About Patterns?

Try to avoid numerous large patterns that are bold and that may overlap. It’s great to go for big statement patterns, but spreading out the look will help maintain balance. For example, if you’re wearing a plaid jacket, your sweater underneath should be a solid color that you can combine with exciting colors that pop. Another great layer choice is a patterned scarf, tie, or patterned gloves.

Visual Design

Starting with one piece at a time, from either your innermost or outermost visible garment layer, go ahead and match away. It’s helpful beforehand to lay out each article of clothing on a flat, neutral-colored surface to decide what they look like together in the arrangement you have chosen. Then, check each item against the next possible item. Continue this process until you’ve got all the pieces of your outfit.

 A woman stands against a snowy railing wearing a grey winter coat, mittens, a scarf, and white ear muffs

Keeping Your Shape

More of the subtlety in how to layer clothes comes in adding dimensions, but it’s always a good idea to work towards maintaining your silhouette.

Here are Some Ways to Keep Your Shape Visible:

  • Wear base and inner layers that hug your skin. Keep bulky items of clothing on the outside and thin, lightweight, and breathable articles close to your skin.
  • Wear items of varying lengths. When all of your clothes are the same length, it can create bulkiness. A jacket, shirt, and loose knit sweater of differing lengths creates a slimming line, new angles, and prevents you from looking too bulky.
  • Wear a short coat over a long maxi dress or jumpsuit, or wear a long, untucked shirt underneath a shorter sweater over a long jacket.

Balance Baggy and Tight Fitting Shapes

  • Using various volumes is also how you can avoid too much bulk, even when your clothes are loose fitting. A big and flowing blouse goes great with leggings or slim fit jeans. Conversely, a fitted top compliments a billowing and flowing skirt. Similarly, a snug coat pairs well with a long flowing dress, and a full-bodied coat creates a great contrast to a short, skinny dress or pants.
When It’s Cold
  • Another fun layering look is to wear leggings under a short skirt. You can go funky and playful and rock colored or patterned tights over a solid neutral skirt, or go more East Coast preppie and sport a classic plaid skirt with black or burgundy leggings and a fun bootie. This look can be complemented with a neutral collared top under a scoop neck sweater and finish off the look with a classic pea coat. Other accessories like gloves and a scarf help to complete the look.
When It’s Hot
  • It can also be fun to wear layers when the temperature rises. Just keep in mind that light layers are key as well as are breathable fabrics that whisk away moisture and help promote evaporation.
  • Aim for short sleeves when you can. Layering tank tops under lightweight, short sleeve button-up shirts paired with flowing skirts and pants are a nice way to keep the movement of layers without retaining heat. Another light layer might include a sleeveless vest, sheer shirt, and linen pants.
  • Remember to keep a light jacket on hand as well, since the summer months also mean air conditioning and sudden rainstorms. So keeping light outerwear nearby is always a good idea.

Using these tips and suggestions, go ahead and explore your own sense of style, form, and personal taste. Let the layering begin!

Ready to layer your look? Check out Lane 201 to shop all of our tops, bottoms, and outerwear to fit your fashion cravings.

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