The Art of Layering

The shops may be awash with Spring/Summer styles but it’s still be distinctly chilly out there so, if

Layering by Kettlewell Colours
Layering by Kettlewell Colours

you’re going to splash out on new season styles now, you’ll definitely need to add some layers for warmth. In fact, given the unpredictability of the great British climate, layering is a sensible way of adjusting to changing temperatures year-round. After all, how many days in the year will it be warm enough to wear that sun dress without a cardigan or wrap?

When it comes to style, I am generally of the “less is more” school of thought, but I do think that, when done skilfully, layering is not only a practical way of dealing with changing temperatures; it can add personality and flair to an outfit.  It’s easy to just take a top off the rail and wear it,  but if you wear a layer underneath, then put a cardigan over and a belt round it before finishing with a necklace or scarf – suddenly you’ve added a personal touch and created an outfit which will take you through several changes of temperature.

Layering basics

For effective layering, I would recommend the following pieces (which you may well find you already have in your wardrobe anyway):

  • Different types of base layering tops (e.g. long, 3/4 or elbow length sleeved tops; vest tops; camis; blouses and shirts).
  • A variety of colours, of which the majority should be in the colourful accent shades in your palette rather than just neutral ones.
  • Various styles of necklines such as. scoop, square, roll, crew and collared. Just make sure you pick the ones that work best for your length of neck, shoulder line and size of bust.
  • Different fabrics and textures (e.g. cotton, wool, silk, satin, velvet, denim, corduroy, (faux) suede etc.)
  • Layers to wear over base tops – jumpers, shirts, shrugs and (my personal favourites), cardigans. Make sure they work for your shape and proportions though – it’s a little cropped cardigan for me, but may be a longer line “boyfriend” cardigan or cascade wrap for you).
  • A few stylish outerwear items (e.g. blazer, gilet, trench, biker jacket)
  • Colourful accessories such as scarves, jewellery and belts to complete your look.

If you find you’re lacking colourful tops for layering, I would  recommend Kettlewell Colours, Boden and Benetton. You can also find inexpensive tee shirts and camis at H&M, M&S and Uniqlo.

You can pick up inexpensive costume jewellery at most clothes shops these days to add that finishing touch. For something a little different, Stella and Dot do a stylish range of quality pieces that you won’t find on the High Street.


How to layer

Kettlewell Colours - perfect for transitional dressing
Kettlewell Colours – perfect for transitional dressing

Just a few pointers on how to achieve stylish layering (and avoid looking like the Michelin tyre man!):

  • Bear in mind that layers can add bulk so, unless you are tall and thin, you’ll probably want to stick to fine, close fitting layers rather than add a lot of texture. If you are tall and thin, feel free to go wild with the faux fur, tweed and velvet!
  • Layers which finish at different points on your body are great for visually shortening a long torso. If you’ve got a short body though, you’ll be better having your layers finish at thigh level.
  • When it comes to combining patterns, unless you are feeling particularly brave, I would stick to a maximum of two and ensure they are unified by either colour or shape.

So there you have it! Layering will not only add interest and personality to your outfit; it will also enable you to get maximum wear from your wardrobe, whatever the weather.