Does it feel like winter is dragging? I know – being cooped up inside doesn’t help. And depending on where you live, it might feel like the depths of a cold, cold winter (my friend in Omaha told me it was 1 degree last week!) or you may have a glimpse of spring on certain days. But no matter your weather, the key to staying warm and feeling cool is layers.
Layers are an often underrated part of many people’s wardrobes. Outside of wearing a coat over a top, many of my clients haven’t experimented with layers (before they met me, that is). So, if you’re thinking, “what’s so good about layers, Paul?”, here are my answers:
Layers provide versatility. A button-down shirt can be a top on its own, worn underneath a sweater on cooler days or worn over a tank top when temperatures rise. If you’re looking for a multi-functional wardrobe without a ton of pieces, layers are key.
Layers keep you warm. Yes, it’s that simple – but listen to this: two thinner styles layered can keep you warmer than one heavy item. That’s because layers trap pockets of air between them, so you don’t always need super heavy clothes to keep out the chill.
Layers are the best way to deal with changing weather. If you live in a location where the days start in the 40’s and peak in the 60’s (hello, Bay Area), you’ll be much more comfortable wearing layers you can take off during the day (and add back on at night).
Layers are stylish. Interesting layers show your fashion savvy and ensure your cute outfits aren’t the sartorial version of one hit wonders.
So, as we head into the remaining weeks of winter, I wanted to share 5 layering secrets that can keep you warm, keep you stylish and keep you comfortable. And don’t think these tips are just for winter – you can stick with these ideas right into spring.
(And be sure to check out the captions of the photos! There are bonus layering tips there, too.)
SLEEVELESS IN WINTER
When I’m going through a client’s closet and we talk through her sleeveless tops, she’ll often say, “I can only wear those in summer.” But that’s not true – sleeveless tops are super useful in cold weather too, because they’re easy to layer.
Have you ever put a cardigan over your blouse, but it was challenging to get the sleeves of your blouse into the cardigan? A sleeveless top can fix that. Have you ever wanted to try a layered look without the bulk through the arms? A sleeveless top can fix that. Do you remember the kid in A Christmas Story? A sleeveless top might have been able to fix that.
Whether it’s a sleeveless silk top under a slim cardigan or a lace-trimmed tank under a deep v-neck sweater, sleeveless layers are versatile options year round.
THINNER CLOSER TO YOUR BODY
When you’re layering up in winter, the best way to stay warm and keep your cool is starting with thin layers close to your body. So, instead of starting with a chunky wool sweater and adding a heavy coat over it, start with a thin t-shirt, for instance. Then add a lightweight merino wool sweater. Then add a vest or jacket. Then add your outerwear. Keep the thin layers closer to your body and the thicker layers further away.
You don’t need to repeat this outfit formula verbatim, but thin layers closer to the body do a couple of things. One – they trap warmth in between the layers. Two – they allow you to strip down to lighter weight layers when you walk into an overheated room or when frigid early spring mornings become balmy afternoons.
IN BETWEEN LAYERS
When I’m talking about in-between layers, I mean styles that might be considered outer layers in warmer weather, but can be layered in between your top and jacket in cold weather. And I also mean pieces that you can keep on inside as part of your outfit.
For example: You start with a striped turtleneck and slim navy pants as your ‘base layer’. Add a denim jacket and throw your camel wool coat over everything before you head out the door. The denim jacket is the in between layer in this scenario. And when you get back inside, you can take off your wool coat, but keep the denim jacket on as part of your stylish layered look. (Read this to discover why I’m slightly obsessed with denim jackets as a supremely versatile piece in your wardrobe.)
Another in between layer I love is a lightweight quilted vest. In spring, it’s your outer layer for cool mornings. But when it’s still chilly, it’s your in-between layer over your sweater but under your jacket.
Hidden layers are for when it’s cold and you’re really layering for warmth, but don’t want to sacrifice style – or unintentionally look like the Michelin Man. Tights with dresses and skirts are akin to a hidden layer, since they allow you to wear dresses in cold weather. But have you ever tried wearing tights under your jeans? It’s the same concept that I talked about previously – tights are a thinner layer closer to your body, that add a layer of warmth under your pants. (If you’re curious about layering skirts and dresses in transitional weather, click here to see how I taught my client.)
And you can also wear hidden layers on top. A long sleeve t-shirt under a sweater is an ideal layer (and it helps if the sweater is at all itchy), but you can also layer thin t-shirts and turtlenecks under other tops or dresses to make them more cold weather-friendly.
A blanket scarf is just what it sounds like – a giant scarf. And while I don’t recommend an oversized scarf to all my clients, it sure comes in handy in cold weather. When you’re heading outside, wrap it around your neck. When you’re traveling, wear it like a blanket in the car or on a plane. When it’s not cold enough for a wool coat, wear it over your shoulders (like a cape) with a denim jacket for a little something extra.
Which layering idea will you try? And which ones are you already doing? Let me know in the comments! And if we’re not already friends on social media, let’s fix that. Follow me here on Instagram and here on Facebook for daily style inspiration and a little behind the scenes of what I do (and if you’re on Pinterest, check me out there, too!).