Layering up for fall
Yes, the wearing of multiple items over one another to achieve a textured look emerged in the 1980s — “Flashdance,” anyone? — but it’s also one of the key looks this season.
Apart from being the look of the moment, layering is also a great way to get more wear out of your favorite warm-weather dresses, skirts and tops, by pairing them with leggings, T-shirts and sweaters.
Although knowing how to layer properly takes a little fashion savvy, it’s a look likely to be embraced by the masses, especially in the colder months, style experts say.
It is, after all, practical.
“Usually, ‘fashion’ means bare legs, which makes no sense,” says Cindy Weber Cleary, fashion director at InStyle magazine. “Women can at least be warm this year.”
This year’s layering trend could translate into a pair of leggings worn under a dress or skirt, a cardigan coat worn over jeans or a cocktail dress made work-appropriate by being worn over a turtleneck, she says.
To look sophisticated rather than sloppy, style experts say, the key is sticking with shades of one color and being wary of thick, bulky layers.
“It’s best to keep your look monochromatic,” Weber Cleary says. “And then what becomes interesting is the contrast of textures, such as a chunky knit cardigan sweater over a floaty dress with leggings.”
Laura McDowell, fashion spokeswoman at T.J. Maxx, suggests pulling your look together with a belt.
“For instance, try a beautiful cowlneck sweater under a blazer, and then belt the whole thing,” says McDowell.“I’m also seeing tunic tops, dresses and long sweaters worn over skinny jeans or leggings, all with a belt.
“Truth is, this whole look was popular in the ‘80s, but that seems to be the main newness this year.”
Make sure to pay attention to the weight of the fabrics you’re layering, says Andrea Lui, style expert at Old Navy. She recommends lightweight fabrics.
Layering many items requires a balance of color, fabric, weight and size.
“Don’t layer two bulky items together,” Lui says, “and watch out for different clasps like buttons and zippers, which can add bulk.”
Key layering pieces for fall include leggings, long camisoles and tunic tops, Lui says.
You don’t even have to pack away your favorite tanks for fall. Try them over a thin, sheer, long-sleeve T-shirt, Lui suggests.
“Pick your favorite graphic T-shirt and add a blazer when it starts to get chilly,” she says. “A tuxedo blouse can be worn under a short-sleeve sweater.”
It’s important to consider your figure when layering, the experts warn.
If you’re bigger on top, you don’t want to add too many layers, such as a blouse, sweater and blazer, which could become bulky,” says Amy Cafazzo, style expert at Marshall’s.
“Instead, look for styles that lengthen your body, such as a body-skimming, long sweater coat paired with straight-leg pants.”
InStyle’s Weber Cleary says learning how to stylishly layer just takes some practice.
“There’s a lot of good news in the trend,” she says. “It makes it easier to wear mini-skirts — just wear a mini over pants or leggings with boots — and not show too much skin.
“You have to feel your way through trial and error.”
But leggings, even though they’re back, are not meant to be worn as pants, she cautions.
“They really are a base that you layer additional pieces over.”