Layering clothes– it’s what makes an okay outfit an amazing outfit. It’s where personality and creativity take off.
But it isn’t always easy.
If basic outfits are simple 1+1=2 arithmetic, then the art of layering is algebra. There are formulas and ways to solve for x and make a great outfit, but you have to know them (by instinct or learning). With that said, I would argue layering is considerably more fun than algebra.
Here’s your general formula for layering clothes:
Base garment + accent garment(s) + accessories = layered outfit.
Your base garment is the simplest version of your outfit and basically whatever is needed to keep you decent. In the below example, the base garment is jeans and a t-shirt. Nothing fancy, just a top and bottom so you don’t get in trouble for public indecency. There are 20 pieces of clothing that I consider base (aka the basics) garments and are the ultimate foundation for any wardrobe.
Your accent garment or garments (for the more seasoned layerer- not a word, but stick with me) consists of any extra pieces of clothing that you are wearing aside from the base garment. This could be anything from a cardigan to a vest or even a blouse. Accent garments are a great way to incorporate trends into your outfit. Check out the top 8 trends of Fall 2018 here.
Your accessories are the sprinkles on the cake. They fill in ‘visual holes’ (places on your outfit where you need more visual interest) and add the last little bit of personality.
Here’s the formula at work:
The basic jeans and t-shirt above layers various garments to create three very different outfit ideas. Some of these outfit examples are more casual and some are more dressed up. See if you can identify each part of the formula: base garments + accents garment + accessories.
It’s also important to note that it is easiest when the formula goes in that order: base + accent + accessory. Most people have trouble visualizing an entire outfit all pulled together. However, most everyone can add pieces one at a time (something I talk about in this free webinar). Even if you have to take off part of your base layer (like a dress) to add an accent garment (like a blouse), it’s still mentally easier to put the outfit together in the order of the formula.
That brings us to my next very important point. Layering can be done OVER or UNDER (or sometimes both!)
We usually think of layering in terms of putting a cardigan or blazer over a shirt. We are not wrong to think that but, but we are wrong to assume that that is the only way to layer! Putting a blouse under a dress is layering. Putting pants under a mini dress (thus making it a tunic!) is layering. Putting a dress under a pair of pants is layering. It may not all look good, but don’t limit yourself! Some of the best outfits are made by thinking out of the box.
Look at how this dress (as well as the example above) is layered both over and under.
Here we see one outfit that is layered under (the blouse is under the dress) and two that are layered over (the sweater and blazer). Just like the jeans and t-shirt example, the formula applied to this little black dress completely transforms the whole outfit.
There really is no rule to how many pieces you can layer, so have fun experimenting and deciding what works best for you! Everyone has a unique style (Not sure what yours is? Take the Style quiz here!) and layering is a great way to show it off!
What’s your favorite layered look? Let me know below!