Layering can be your bestie or your worst enemy. On one hand, layering garments staves off the chills and gives you creative freedom to use old pieces in new ways. But layering gone wrong? You end up feeling like a marshmallow with no style sense.
Well I say, no marshmallow for you! Let’s keep the layering game on point. Here are the 10 ultimate rules of winter layering, each demonstrated by an amazing layered look from Instagram.
The 10 Rules of Layering
1. Pair animal prints and neutrals.
You know that animal print coat or kimono you have in the closet, the one that’s way more aggressive than your normal, everyday style? Put that piece to work by slipping it on underneath a neutral overcoat. Just like that, you’re a style genius.
2. Two coats are better than one.
You can pair motos and blazers, double up on sweaters and even wear two complementary overcoats at the same time. Your success here lies in the order of the garments: fitted coats and very bold, patterned coats shine as under-layers. Top those pieces off with a solid-color trench or overcoat.
3. Do wear a collared top.
Try and visualize the outfit below without the white top. It’s decidedly less interesting that way, right? The contrasting white collar, hemline and sleeves provide structure so that the ensemble looks put together, and not thrown together.
The takeaway is this: a white, collared top with a sweater always works. Add a structured coat if you feel too puffy.
4. Use textures to add interest.
Textures work as hard as colors to add interest to an outfit. So even if your winter wardrobe consists of basics, you can (and you will) combine them into unique, stylish combos — just by playing on textural differences. Try matching up two different ribbed knits, torn denim, leather plus metal zippers, and it will all work beautifully!
5. Let the bold prints peek.
A wild floral or crazy print is perfect in between solid-colored layers. You’re serving your wild side in a smallish dose, sandwich by a few solid, but less exciting pieces. The end result is an outfit that’s visually stunning without being over-the-top.
6. Have fun with your accessories.
Your layering story doesn’t end with the overcoat! Add a colorful scarf or a touch of lace to the mix to show off your playful side.
7. You don’t need bold pieces to make a bold outfit.
Successful layering doesn’t require careful color-pairing or even a single statement piece. If you stress out about pairing multiple pieces of different colors, then don’t. Go monochrome with solid-colored basics in greys, blues or blacks.
8. Play up every piece.
We could talk for days about the coat and shoes in this pic, but I’m going to call out an unsung hero. See that white t-shirt poking out underneath the camel sweater? That’s the real star in this ensemble. It lightens things up and brings in much-needed contrast. Without that t-shirt, the dark denim against the camel probably looks mucky.
In your layered ensemble, every piece plays a role!
9. Work in your sportswear.
A hoodie worn underneath a nice coat looks far dressier than a hoodie worn alone. The downside is once you remove the coat, you’re still just wearing a hoodie. If you’re headed to work where the hoodie alone won’t fly, wear two coats — or a coat and a blazer — over it. Then you can take off one coat and leave the other one to remain as part of your indoor outfit.
10. Top it off.
Hats do keep you warmer and they’re a fabulous way to mix up your look. Caps, slouchy beanies, cloche hats and berets all make cute additions to your layered out.
As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine, DrLaura.com, Refinery29, Wellness.com and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.
Thanks for stopping by! I'm Catherine, your Budget Fashionista style editor. I'm a bargain shopper at heart, as I love nice things but hate paying for them! I'm also a personal finance writer who's been featured on USA Today and MSN Money.