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Loft boot-cut jeans with GNW Luxe sweater, Moda cardigan, and L.K. Bennett patent leather pumps (all own)

When the weather gets cold outside, layering can yield the thermal comfort and when done right look stunning. However, this technique is pretty tricky and when done wrong may ruin your appearance. This post discribes the most common mistaked when layering and how to avoid them.

  1. Why ignoring the basic physics of insulation techniques is a big failure in dressing
  2. Layering Broken Down
  3. Examples of how to layer correctly
  4. Why failing to add horizontal lines strategically can make you look heavy
  5. Why to you should avoid bulky clothes in a layered look

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Layering don’ts

There are several major mistakes in layering:

  1. Using pieces that are unsuitable for layering,
  2. Ignoring your body type,
  3. Wearing the wrong colors,
  4. Wearing the wrong underwear, and
  5. Not using the physics of insulation for creation of thermal comfort.

Layering requires basic understanding of which pieces are suitable for layering. It also requires to identify your body shape type. The secret to beautiful layers starts out with a well fitting bra, and body conscious underwear. Learn to love shape-wear as layering adds bulk.

post logo with example of what layering mistakes to avoid

Why not adding horizontal lines strategically can make you look heavy

Make sure your layers do not draw attention to the points that you want to hide like a tummy (hello, midlife!) or wide hips when you are pear-shaped. Instead, draw attention to the points you want to highlight. For example, when you have a tiny waist, you want a cropped sweater, top or jacket end there. The hem of any layering piece namely creates a horizontal line that draws attention to where it is. Thus, use this strategy in your favor when layering. See this guide for a full suit of chic layering tips to maintain great style in the cold season (opens in a new tab so you can finish reading this post) including what colors can help to get the layer-outfit right.

over 50 years old influencer in layered outerwear
Cole Haan motorcycle shearling coat, Sienna Studio leather pencil skirt, GNW tights, Harley Davidson booties, 3.1 Philip Lim bag, gloves and fedora (all own). When wearing a coat over a skirt it should either cover the entire skirt or the skirt should show at least 2 inch (5 cm)

Why to you should avoid bulky layers

A big mistake is to use non-tailored pieces to create the look. They add bulk under the piece pulled over it. Even when onlt the uppermost piece is non-tailored it may visibly add weight when you fail to use one of the tricks to look slim in layers.

Therefore, it’s not recommended to use anything, but fitted/tailored items for layering. The goal is to avoid to look bulky (and hence heavier than you really are). Best layering pieces are tank tops that cannot be worn alone, special layering tops, tailored T-shirts with long sleeves. Thin tailored shirts may work as well under a sweater vest, vest, blazer, v-neck sweater or cardigan.

Only use tailored pieces for layering. #agelessstyle #dress4success Click To Tweet

Why ignoring the basic physics of insulation techniques is a big failure in dressing

Use air as an insulator for thermal comfort in cold weather. This under-layer serves as extra insulation by the layer itself, and by creating a thin air layer (less than the width of your thumb). Air does not conduct (body) heat well.

To look stylish, the under-layer must be long enough to peak out about 2 inch (5 cm) and add a pop of color or interest. It also has to stay in place when you put another layer on top. The photos below show some examples how to get the “onion look” right for inspiration.

When layering for staying warm, don't forget to keep the look slim by adding vertical lines and sleek items. #timelessstyle #stayingwarm Click To Tweet

Layering Broken Down

In the following, a winter office look is broken down into the various layering steps. Each one has to build a look all by itself, so you can “peel” layers off.

midlife blogger in all neutral outfit with skirt, sweater, polka dot scarf

over 50 years old fashion blogger in A-line plaid skirt, sweater, scarf
Work outfit of a plaid skirt with Brooks Brothers cashmere sweater, Anne Klein polka dot silk scarf, Longchamp pliage bag, Hermes bangles to add a pop of red, booties (all own) paired with boot toppers c/o Top of the Boot


The photos above show the first layer over the usual “foundation” (long sleeve underwear, bra, briefs, pantyhose, shape-wear). My the way putting on lotion is a good primer. The first layer is made up by a cashmere sweater, plaid wool skirt, and tights. The second and third layer on my feet are boot toppers which are actually socks, and booties. The silk scarf is for style. On the top, the second layer is a leather vest to add some edge to the otherwise classic outfit. The  third layer is a short jacket. If it were any colder, I would wear either a long coat or a thermo skirt over my plaid skirt. However, this winter it was not so cold that I had to do it so far. Learn more about chic layering for comfort and style in the guide at the link.

style blogger in layer outfit with vest plaid skirt sweater
Adding a street style twist to a classic office look with a motorcycle vest (own). Boot toppers are c/o Top of the Boot
style book author in layered look
Outerwear that picks up the colors of the plaid skirt, Longchamp pliage bag, booties (all own) and boot toppers c/o Top of the Boot


Examples of How to Layer Correctly

Never worry again what to wear when. Just look it up in my style book How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy the book now.

fashion blogger in cable knit dress worn over a skirt Wearing a Barbour cable-knit dress over a G-III suede skirt. The MOSCHINO belt adds shape and proportion. The red GNW tights and red Manolo Blahnik booties elongate the legs. All items are my own.

layer cardigan under v-neck sweater with leather skirt GNW leopard print layered under V-neck cashmere sweater worn with a sleek Sienna Studio leather pencil skirt (similar skirt), GNW tights and Harley Davidson booties (all own)

influencer with pearl pendant necklace Great Northwest denim shirt under a sweater with leather jeans and scarf

over 50 years old fashion blogger layering a dress over dress Barbour cable-knit dress worn under Ruby Belle plaid sheath dress with brown GNW tights and brown Clarks booties (all own)

#styleover40 woman wearing a turtleneck layering top under a cardigan with a skirt Plaid wool skirt with cashmere cardigan, turtleneck layering top c/o Adea, and white jade and onyx necklace c/o Almo Jewellery to create a sleek layered outfit

influence in cat tie, sweater vest, leather skirt, polka dot shirt Jones New York polka dot shirt layered under V-neck silk short sleeve sweater both tucked into the Sienna Studio leather pencil skirt worn with GNW tights and Harley Davidson booties (all own). The cat-print tie pulls the outfit together

What are your layering challenges? Let me know, so I can help you.

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Mölders, N., 2019: Outdoor Universal Thermal Comfort Index Climatology for Alaska. Atmospheric and Climate Sciences9, 558-582. doi: 10.4236/acs.2019.94036.

Photos: G. Kramm

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