The Ultimate Guide To Layering Clothes

Last updated on : January 15 2023

how to layer clothes

Article Summary

Layering is a convenient way to stay warm during the colder months while expanding your wardrobe. To layer correctly, you should wear inner layers that are thin and comfortable and outer layers that can be easily removed, and accessorize your look with hats, scarves, and jewelry.

When choosing your layers, it's important to match colors and textures and use thinner fabrics to avoid bulkiness. Consider using multiple thin layers, such as body-conscious knits or thermals, instead of thick sweaters. Outer layers can include traditional winter coats or trendy capes, adding a unique touch to your look.

In this guide, we’ve taken an in-depth look at your layering options, while getting you through the cold season in a modish and sensible way.

Why Layer

Layers are a convenient way of staying warm during the colder months. You stay warm outside, and can easily shed your outer clothes to get you to the right temperature when indoors. It's very convenient. 

Layering has the unique and one of a kind ability to expand your wardrobe. It gives you the option to wear summer and spring favorites all year round. Often summer and spring clothes add a much-needed punch to drab winter colors.

If you layer correctly, it should not add bulk or weight to your look. If you are worried about adding clothes weight or being uncomfortable this guide is just for you and addresses your concerns while still inspiring your trendy style.

Read More13 Tips for Starting Your Own Clothing Line Online

Layering Basics

Make layering simple by following these three basic rules.  

Rule 1: Wear inner layers that are thin and comfortable.

As a minimum, inner or base layers would be your bra and underwear. However, add anything from vests to tank tops and blouses to achieve the look and feel you need. 

Rule 2: Easily remove outer layers. 

Outer layers typically are jackets, coats, sweaters, scarves, and hats. Choose ones that can be easily removed in public, revealing inner layers that work as a complete outfit. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a hot sweater indoors. 

Rule 3: Don't forget to accessorize

Remember that your layering does not stop at your clothes and shoes; it continues throughout your entire body. Think hats, beanies, and scarves as the ultimate functional accessories, bags, and jewelry to balance your look if necessary.   

Rule 4: Match layers appropriately.

You want to be in a position where removing a layer or two still leaves you with a workable outfit that you are proud of. Choose your layers wisely with this in mind - ensure colors and textures work as well as top and bottom combinations. 

Inner And Base Layers

Some years ago we saw a unique fashion trend of wearing long-sleeved turtlenecks under shift dresses or pinafores. The look seemed to reintroduce under-layers that were common in the mid-1920s. Since its reintroduction, layering has stuck around for the long haul.

Use Thinner Fabrics

As you hone your layering skills remember that base layers should be with thinner fabrics to avoid bulking or disfiguring when worn.

Long-sleeved shirts or blouses work well for under layers. Choose thin cotton sateen or polyester fabrics, chiffon, and silks. Resist knitted fabrics with ribbed or thick textured patterns.

Use Multiple Thin Layers

Multiple thin layers are a great way to keep warm and comfortable when the weather cools down. Consider using many body-conscious knits or thermals rather than bulking sweaters and thick turtlenecks.

The goal of layering is to use more than one layer, and it is often much more achievable when you depend on thinner fabrics to create the look.

Pair cozy and warm polyester all-over print leggings with a simple tank top, thin oversized cotton sweater, and wool neck scarf or go for tights and a midi skirt.

The thinner your layers, the more layers you can comfortably add for texture and chic style.

Options for Outer Layers 

Coat vs. Cape

A winter coat is a wardrobe staple for many fashionistas. While it is essential to have a well-fitting winter coat, wearing one every day becomes overdone.

An alternative to the traditional winter coat is a modern cape. Capes have picked up in popularity because they are warm, cozy, and have a unique ability to make you appear slimmer.

When you pair a winter cape with a sexy crop top or a statement bandage dress the look is not only trendy but very feminine.

Capes are designed to be versatile closet staples and drape around your shoulders. Secure them at the middle of your neckline with a button, clip, drawstring, or brooch.

Whether you opt for a winter coat or a cape remember that your outer layer will be the very first thing people will see, so make a statement. A bright-colored jacket or patterned winter cape adds a polish and style to an otherwise neutral ensemble.

coat and bandage dress

Amber makes a statement in this moto jacket and bandage dress combo.

Knee-High Boots & Booties

Can you wear knee-high boots with a bandage dress or bodycon styled summer number? Absolutely.

Knee-high boots are a must-have layering piece because they are versatile, cozy, and scream “I’m warm.” With knee-high boots, you introduce a level of sophistication and class without really having to do much more to pull your look together.

Cold-weather footwear such as knee-high boots or booties keeps your feet warm while giving you a sexy style that makes your legs look like they go on forever. Add a pair of textured tights, belt, and scarf to pull off a look that is cozy and comfortable for those winter nights out with friends.

Choose a pencil heel for dates with your love and thicker heels if you plan on doing a bit of walking.


Sometimes when the cold hits we forget that dresses are still viable options to wear. If dresses make up more than half your wardrobe then, by all means, keep wearing them and don’t put them in the back of your closet - instead layer up.

If you add a coat, tights or leggings, and even well-fitting pants under short summer dresses you get a look that is feminine, flattering, and stylishly dramatic.

Additionally, you have the option of sweater dresses. Sweater dresses are great ideas for cooler weather and often work well with layering. Whether you choose a form-fitting sweater dress or a more relaxed fit style, pair it with knee-high boots and a fringe jacket.

Add light and breezy scarves, long necklaces, and bracelets. Always remember that the key to layering sweater dresses is that it includes every part of your outfit - clothes, jackets, shoes, and accessories.

Bandage Dresses

Don't relegate your bandage dress for your summer wardrobe. Wear each bandage dress you own year round. Bandage dresses are multi-seasonal pieces.

We make our good-quality bandage dresses from a heavier stretch material that keeps your body supported and warm. Pairing your dress with opaque tights, simple booties, and a leather or jean coat will give you an edgy look featuring simple and straightforward layers.

Layering your bandage dress is simple because of its flexible fabric, and your options are almost limitless. Add a warm sweater and your dress converts to a sensible and stylish skirt. Pair with a smart shrug or faux fur jacket, and you are all set for a night out, a date with friends, and more.

Read our article on how to style a bandage and bodycon dress. 

Leather (faux) is Your Ally

Faux leather is often a very controversial material, but no one denies its ability to keep you warm. When you layer up with faux leather, you quickly achieve a look that balances sophistication with an edge. The great thing is that faux leather not only comes in jackets but also in skirts, pants, and in some cases tops.

It used to be that leather was reserved for rebels and biker chicks. Nowadays when you put on leather, you are merely making a statement of confidence and feminine swag. It is edgy, stylish, and polished.

Throw on a pair of leather leggings, leather opera gloves, or a leather jacket under your cape or coat for added warmth.

mesh bandage dress and leather jacket

Calyi looks stunning in this mesh bandage dress and leather jacket.

Wear Fur on the Fringes

Wearing a bulky faux fur coat may not be your preferred choice of trendy winter wear. However, you do not need to wear a full fur coat to soak in the warmth of the material. Stay stylish with a form-fitting jacket that boasts a faux fur collar and cuffs.

Another good idea is to opt for a fur vest worn on top of your thin turtleneck or long-sleeved knit. Choose a contrasting pattern or color to give your look more dimension. The fur on the fringes also means you can wear over your favorite crop top and pair with your boyfriend jeans.


Wearing leggings under your skirts, dresses, and shorts is one of your more comfortable go-to options. When it comes to layering up for winter, adding tights or leggings to your look keeps you warm and comfortable while giving it texture and style.

Don’t just opt for light or basic tights or leggings. Instead, choose all-over prints that include everything from animal to florals. Leggings are a great way to add spice and color to any look.

Layering for the fall

Maxi Dresses

Maxi dresses offer a simple way to layer up because they are long dresses that cover you from shoulders to toes. Typically maxi dress styles are very fitted, so layering under could prove to be a challenge. So opt for putting your layers on top for these instead.

If your dress is opaque easily add tights or play it safe by just sticking with leggings. Add long oversized sweaters to this look along with snoods and statement jewelry.

The maxi dress is very versatile when it comes to layering because it is thin and fitted. Play around with various pieces in your closet to pull off a layered look that works and keeps you from feeling too bulky.

Remember To Accessorize 

The point of this guide is to encourage you to pull off layers without feeling stuffed or overdressed (literally). Adding accessories balances a look, and can be functional too. 

Hats & Beanies

Switch out your summery straw hat with a thicker felt one during the winters. More full brimmed hats keep your ears warm and keep you looking and feeling stylish.

Other viable options include your trusted beanie or even a fedora when you are going for a sleeker and more sophisticated look. Choose textured and vibrant colored hats and beanies for a trendy and satisfying style.


Bright printed scarves not only look great but keep your neck warm while adding a pop of color to your winter wardrobe. The trick is to wear neutral solid colors and let your scarf and accessories bring the intensity and drama to your look.

Luxury cashmere scarves are great for dresses and jeans (and decidedly much warmer), but you also have the option of a snood (the big circle scarves) or a chunky scarf with tons of texture.


In conclusion, layering is a fashionable and practical way to stay warm during the colder months while expanding your wardrobe. By following the basic layering rules, you can create a look that is both comfortable and stylish.

Inner layers should be thin and comfortable, outer layers should be easily removable, and you can use accessories such as hats, scarves, and jewelry to add texture and balance to your look.

When choosing your layers, it's important to match colors and textures and use thinner fabrics to avoid bulkiness. Outer layers can include traditional winter coats or trendy capes, adding a unique touch to your look. With layering, you'll be able to stay warm and fashionable all winter long.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are the questions most frequently asked by our readers.

How can I layer without adding bulk or weight to my look?

Avoid adding bulk or weight by wearing inner layers that are thin and comfortable. Use lighter fabrics for base layers, and use multiple thin layers such as body-conscious knits or thermals instead of thick sweaters. Also, it's important to match colors and textures appropriately and accessorize with functional items such as hats, scarves, and jewelry.

How can I choose the most suitable inner layers?

The inner layers, known as base layers, should be thin and comfortable. At a minimum, they would be your bra and underwear, but you can add anything from vests to tank tops and blouses to achieve the look and feel you need. When choosing inner layers, it's essential to consider the type of fabrics you use. Opt for thin cotton sateen or polyester fabrics, chiffon, and silks, and avoid knitted fabrics with ribbed or thick textured patterns.

Are there any specific types of outer layers that are better for layering? 

Outer layers are typically jackets, coats, sweaters, scarves, and hats. When choosing outer layers, selecting items you can easily remove in public is essential, revealing inner layers that work as a complete outfit. Consider trying out alternative options such as capes, which are warm, cozy, and have a unique ability to make you appear slimmer. 

What are some essential clothing items to have for layering?

Some essential clothing items for layering include lightweight sweaters, long-sleeved t-shirts, button-up shirts, cardigans, and jackets. These versatile items can be worn in various ways, making them great for layering. Additionally, it's helpful to have a few different types of outerwear, such as a light jacket, denim jacket, and a heavier coat, to layer over your outfits for different weather conditions.

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