Friday, November 26, 2010

10 Tips For Stylish Layering Techniques For All Occasions

When the temperature drops, layered ensembles are a great way to stay warm while looking stylish and chic. Layering also allows you to wear items you already own - even many of your summer pieces - but they look fresh when you wear them with pieces like scarves, cardigans, blazers and tights. You can also use layers to hide figure flaws and create the appearance of a proportioned body using some simple techniques. By adding a few inexpensive key pieces to your wardrobe, you can effortlessly create fashionable layered ensembles.
While layers can look stylish, if you aren't careful you can look messy and bulky instead. To create a fabulous look with layers for any occasion, you can employ a few simple tips and techniques.

Wearing layers in the fall and winter is important for me because I am hot natured. I can add clothes like a cardigan and button up,  like the ones in the picture above. The layers allow me to keep warm outside but I can remove the outer garments to keep my cool indoors where the heaters are going at full blast.

1.Get These Essential Base Garments for Stylish Layering-Base garments are the layers of clothes that are closest to your body - the first clothes you put on after undergarments. With these key pieces in your wardrobe, you can effortlessly create a layered ensemble by pairing them with clothes and accessories you already own. Key pieces include: Camisoles, Tank tops, short sleeve layering top, long sleeve layering top, tights, leggings.
2. Fit -Well fitting pieces are essential when layering. Select form fitting styles that skim your body without being too tight. Tight pieces will be uncomfortable and unflattering. Base garments that are too big or baggy make you look bulky. Plus the excess fabric can bunch up and cause bulges beneath your outer layers. 
3. Fabric-A good rule to keep in mind is the thinner the layer, the closer to the body it should be. So you'll want to select lightweight camisoles, tanks and other base layering pieces. The fabric should stretch since you'll be wearing these pieces over other layers. Look for clothes with spandex for stretch and comfort. If you are going to be active outdoors, choose pieces that retain heat while wicking moisture away from the body.
4. Style and Color When Selecting Base Layer Pieces: There are many different necklines to chose from for your top base garments. Some options include crew neck, V neck, scoop neck, turtleneck, square neck and a few other choices. You can also choose from a range of styles for the long and short sleeved pullover tops. Options include sleeveless, cap sleeves, 3/4 sleeves and traditional short and long sleeve styles. Choose the styles that are most comfortable and figure flattering. I prefer layers that have the same neckline so that my layers are uniform and smooth. Color: Some great basic colors for your base garments are white, gray and black. You can go with jewel tones or brighter shades if you want but the basic black and white pieces are a great place to start when building your layering wardrobe.

Cuddl Duds has a selection of base layers that are suitable for all occasions. Their active wear wicks moisture from the skin while retaining heat to keep you warm and dry when playing in the snow!

5. Use Layers to Create the Appearance of Proportioned Figure and to Hide Flaws: Layering short pieces over longer pieces is a fashionable way to create a proportioned look. You want to draw the eye up using color and well placed pieces. For a Full Figure, Petite Figure and Short Torso, wear a cropped cardigan or short jacket over a longer top and leave it un-tucked. Choose dark colors for both pieces since they make you look slimmer. The cropped piece will draw the eye upward. To hide your tummy, wear a long, flowing top under a cropped jacket and finish the look with skinny jeans. Light colors accentuate while darker colors minimize. The ensemble below is a great example of layers that conceal a tummy and create the a slimmer appearance. It is made up of a flowing, longer shirt under a longer cardigan and a cropped motorcycle jacket. While the pieces are dark, the floral print scarf and green shoes add color and once again, the floral print scarf and cropped jacket will draw the eye up.

6. Get More Mileage from Your Wardrobe by Incorporating Your Summer Clothes into Your Layered Ensemble: If you have items that you didn't get to wear last summer, layering those pieces is the perfect opportunity to get your money's worth! Some summer pieces that can work in the winter when layered are dresses, floral prints, sleeveless tops, skirts, capri pants and even some shorts. For capri pants, simply add tights and knee high boots for warmth. You could wear long socks and flats if you prefer - get creative! Floral prints-Luckily floral prints are very in fashion this season. Pull your floral dresses out of storage, wear your long sleeved base layer underneath, add tights or leggings then top with a blazer or cardigan and a scarf. For floral print summery tops or skirts, just add a solid color base layer, sweater or cardigan and scarf.

Ralph Lauren's Fall 2010 Collection featured flowing skirts in floral patterns and form fitting, layered tops

Summer dresses easily transition to winter wear when paired with tights, cardigan or sweater and scarf. You can add layers underneath if you need to and still look great. You could also wear your dresses over skinny jeans. See the looks below for inspiration.

This ensemble from Anthropologie can be paired with tights and a camisole for colder temperatures

 Shorts in the winter aren't really my style but they look amazing on some people. You can pair denim shorts with tights or leggings underneath, or go Sara Jessica Parker style and wear them with thigh high socks. You could wear some nude pantyhose underneath to create warmth. Katie Holmes is rocking the look with tights, heels and fitted top with scarf. I would wear that if I looked like her!

 Just steer clear of linen and clothes that look and feel too summery. Silk, lace and chiffon are fine but some fabrics are too thin and will look odd when worn in cooler temperatures.
7. Some Ways to Create a Casual, Chic Look- Create a casual look with layers by layering two tank tops then add a boyfriend blazer, scarf and jewelry with skinny jeans. Another great look is the one pictured below. A dress, blazer, scarf, hat and tights with flats looks cozy and stylish at the same time. You can add  accessories like scarves, gloves, belts, hat and jewelry. For a unique and unexpected look, layer two scarves. If you're wearing an open, oversized cardigan, you can add a wide belt to give your waist definition. Some people advise wearing bright and bold colors for outer layers but I disagree. I think that muted, neutral tones and monochromatic ensembles are chic and slimming while bright, wild colors can look chaotic and mismatched. When layering you want to look like you planned your ensemble, not like you just tossed on any pieces that were lying around.

8. Ideas for a Layered Ensemble for Special Occasions and Events: Layered outfits are usually only considered for casual wear but you can put together a stylish and dressy ensemble with a little creativity. Consider the photo below from the Tracy Reese Fall 2010 Collection. Unexpected pieces, like the black jaquard shorts paired with a lace shell and arm warmers, look chic. Of course most of us can't afford designer pieces and I wouldn't dare wear shorts and arm warmers to an event but you can take inspiration from the photos and interpret the look using your own signature style and wardrobe. Substitute a black skirt instead of the shorts, then add a jacket or sparkly cardigan instead of arm warmers. By replacing the shell with a short sleeved, black lace top and camisole, then finishing the look with a gorgeous coat and scarf, you have a warm but elegant look. A bonus is that you have pieces that can be added or removed according to the temperature throughout the night.

9. Layers for Active Wear-Exercising or playing outdoors in the winter poses a challenge since you can perspire after a while. Wear base layers that retain heat while wicking away moisture. You can layer short sleeves under long sleeves or a tank over long sleeves. Add a fitted, stretchy top and top with a hooded zip up jacket. For bottom layers, go with comfortable stretchy leggings like the ones pictured below. Wear two pairs if it's really cold outside, then top with bottoms that match the outer top. A good example of an outer layer for active wear is a fitted, velour or fleece separates. Also be sure to wear a hat, scarf and gloves for maximum warmth. Cuddl Duds has a great selection of active wear base layers, like the tank below.

10. Final Tips for Putting Together Chic, Layered Ensembles: For your outer layers, I mentioned above that I recommend sticking with neutral tones or a monochromatic ensemble. You don't have to wear head to toe layers in the same color-you can wear different shades of brown for example. Remember that a monochromatic ensemble in a dark color will make you look taller and thinner. Add a pop of color with your accessories. For example, if you're wearing an ensemble of neutral layers, add a brightly colored scarf, tights, shoes or handbag. 
Mix and match pieces of different shapes, textures and lengths. If you're wearing denim, add layers of cashmere and silk for example. Keep Your Look Balanced. If you are wearing a flowy skirt, similar to the one pictured in the Ralph Lauren photo above, wear a form fitting top layer. When wearing wide, flowing shirts or tunics, wear leggings or skinny jeans. If you wear big, billowing pieces on the top and bottom, your look can go from chic to chaotic and messy. 
Be sure to mix and match the length of your outer layers. Items of the same length can make you look bulky and thick. Items of varying lengths and textures can create an interesting and stylish outfit. Be creative. Get inspired by looks from magazines or by any looks you see on mannequins, television or on the street. Start in your closet by mixing and matching pieces that are different but that compliment each other. The look below is very similar to the one that I wear using my summer sleeveless shirt over a long sleeved base layer, then I add a cropped jacket, leggings and a scarf.

By layering your ensembles, you can bring new life to your wardrobe using the clothes you already own. With just a few base layer key items, you can use your creativity and clothing you already own to create a fabulous look. Be creative and incorporate your own unique, individual style to create fabulous layered ensembles for every occasion!

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Cuddl Duds blogging program, making me eligible to get a $40 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”