30 Layering Tips for Flawless Fall Fashion
Need layering tips for flawless fall fashion? Of course! That’s why you’re here. Autumn is here, which means a lot of things. It means it’s time to find a good book because you’ll be cozying up to it next to a heater or a warm fire. It also means hot cocoa and so many marshmallows that they tip over the edge. It also means wearing clothes that make you so warm and snug that your mood will be instantly brightened. Yeah, that’s what fall means to us.
To get that warm and cozy feeling, you also have to dress differently than you did in the summer. Heck, the summer means you can throw on a shirt and a pair of shorts and be good to go, but fall is a lot different. The temperatures are changing. You’ll walk inside your office or home, and things will be super warm, but outside will bring chilly morning air and brisk evenings. That means it’s time for layers, layers, and even more layers.
Instead of just piling on the clothes and getting a little bulky, you can layer strategically for maximum warmth, temperature comfortability, and style. If you’re just getting started in layering, it can take a little practice, and we understand that.
With these 30 tips, you can make it through autumn looking stunning and being comfortable. A lot of these tips also involve using the same pieces of clothing, meaning less money spent on your wardrobe. After these tips, you'll have mastered the art of layering.
Don’t be afraid of color.
Even though it’s fall, don’t be afraid of color! You can use brighter colors during the fall as long as they don’t clash with other shades you’re wearing. The best way to do this is to stick to complementary colors. We wouldn’t suggest adding more than two statement colors and two neutrals, just to stay on the safe side.
The very last thing you want to do is traverse into clown territory. We love color as much as the next person, which is why we want more people to play with different hues this season. But it's easy to go overboard, even if you're a seasoned fashionista. On the other hand, who are we to say what "too much color" is? Just have fun!
Don’t overdo it with pattern play.
Mixing patterns can be a great thing, but it can easily go wrong too. Since you’ll be mixing multiple items of clothing, it’s a good idea to stick to solids and simple patterns. Plaid, stripes, and gingham are all simple patterns that can be tossed in with various color schemes and textures without becoming overwhelming.
The best way to keep yourself in pattern check is to use patterns of neutral colors when layering. This way, you get to add the pizzazz of a print without taking the whole ensemble over the top. Pair a patterned piece with a tasteful solid-colored neutral, and you're on your way to being the most stylish of the season.
Choose accessories carefully.
When you layer several items, you need to be selective with accessories. Too many flashy necklaces and bracelets will ruin a layered look by making it seem like you’re trying too hard. Layering is a busy look by itself, so choose simple accessories and only the ones that will go on dead space.
For instance, you don’t need a necklace if you’re already wearing a blanket scarf. Not only will the scarf distract from or cover your jewelry entirely, it honestly looks like you have no self-control. Instead, opt for classy stud earrings to balance out the look while still bringing the bling.
Layer light to thick.
Layering light to thick gives you the ability to remove layers as it gets too warm. Nothing is worse than getting your layering perfect and realizing you can’t take off the hottest piece because it’s the base layer. That's why the thinnest pieces should serve as the innermost layer of your outfit in case indoor locations are particularly warm.
On the other hand, you want your outermost layer to be the bulkiest and warmest piece of clothing. This usually translates to a bulky overcoat and scarf that can be wrapped around the neck. With this simple layering hack, you can easily transition from hot to cold environments with the flick of your wrist — or your scarf.
Unless the temperature is at sub-Antarctic temperatures, you don’t need to layer with bulky pieces. Wearing bulky sweaters or jackets with other items is more cumbersome than it is cozy — that is, if you don't do it properly. Believe it or not, there is a right way to layer, and it usually involves cutting out excess. Quality over quantity, people!
That super-thick sweater might look great underneath your jacket, but it will also limit your range of motion throughout the day, and who wants to deal with that? If you want to wear a bulkier item, try to keep it to outside pieces, like your jacket or scarf. Just be prepared to overheat with your bulky choices.
Accessorize with your bag.
Never forget your bag! Your bag can be the best statement piece you own, and it will tie your look together. One of the best tips we give everyone is to use your bag as a statement piece, but you should make sure your outfit flows without it. Every piece should work as a unit to look stylish.
You should also avoid going for the designer tote bag if it overshadows your entire outfit. Sure, a giant Louis Vuitton tote bag is a statement piece, but you're not Paris Hilton. It's not going to carry your outfit. Instead, pair large bags with slimmed-down outfits, and vice versa. Tiny bags are perfect for the winter to balance out a bulky outfit.
Stay within one color scheme.
If you're just starting to layer clothing, it can feel tough knowing where colors go. If you stick to muted tones and neutrals as much as possible, the style becomes easier. And don't get us wrong — sticking with one color scheme doesn't mean you can't (or shouldn't) play with color. Neutrals are not the only option! While the all-black outfit is a safe option, it should be reserved for special occasions.
If you want a little color, choose your favorite and run with it! Monochromatic can be just as beautiful as wearing several colors or patterns. And, most of the time, it looks way chicer than the traditional 3-color rule for designing outfits. Plenty of fashion houses are leaning into monochrome, and you should, too, when curating your fall wardrobe. Be creative!
Get funky with it.
Whether it’s a cropped chunky knit sweater or a fringe vest, you can definitely layer with punchier pieces. It may be tempting to raid your local Target of every neutral piece in sight, but that's a surefire way to get lost in the crowd. Instead, try something a bit funkier. That includes experimenting with color and unique silhouettes.
Remember: dressing fashionably is all about balance. You can wear a crop over a button-up with skinny jeans and boots to dress down the crop. If you’re doing a fringe vest, then pair it with a long, plain tee to counterbalance the fringe. If you're wearing baggy mom jeans, wear a tight-fitting turtleneck on the top. If it's a loose top, opt for fitted pants or a pencil skirt.
Choose pieces that can stand alone.
The whole point of layering is to remove pieces as the temperature rises throughout the day and to put them back on as the temperature drops in the evening. Therefore, you need to layer pieces that pair together seamlessly but also look good separately when you remove the outer layers.
For instance, if you wear a cardigan and white tank under a peacoat, then they need to look just as stylish and put together without the peacoat. Keep this in mind when you choose to wear a statement coat over a largely neutral outfit. Right when you ditch the coat in the office or out with friends, your wow factor disintegrates.
Keep it simple.
The main pitfall most people make when layering pieces is overthinking the complexity of an outfit. If you’re going to layer, you need to keep it simple. Choose an outerwear piece, a thin middle piece, and then your base. For example, a simple “cool-girl” combination would be a leather jacket, a thin hoodie, and a T-shirt paired with jeans and boots.
The moral of the story here is this: don’t make it harder for yourself. If you're new to fashion, especially layering outfits for dynamic weather, don't jump straight into accessorizing or playing with trends. Stick to the basics — literally. We're talking neutrals and a capsule wardrobe. After you feel comfortable building an outfit from these pieces, then you can start introducing more clothes to spice it up.
Neutrals make it easy.
No matter how much we stress being creative and having fun, make sure to own plenty of neutral pieces. If not, you may get lost in the weeds when attempting to build a chic and cozy fall outfit. One day you think you have the best-curated fall wardrobe, and the next day you're pulling out your hair because the only clothes you own are glitzy statement pieces.
Whether it’s spring, summer, fall, or winter, neutral shades make everything easier. Layering with neutrals can elevate any outfit because the tones highlight the statement colors you’ve chosen to wear. It's better to invest in better quality statement pieces because those are the ones you'll never get tired of and will wear with more outfits over the years!
Pay attention to your silhouette.
It’s only natural to add more layers up top as the weather becomes colder. However, throwing on three coats, a scarf, a hat, mittens, and earmuffs with only skinny jeans will on the bottom is a surefire way to make you look top-heavy. Luckily for you, there are a few simple fixes to this fall fashion faux-pas.
First, try out playing with length. This tactic includes combining long pieces to create a leaner look. Another tactic is to balance long and big pieces with form-fitting ones, as we mentioned earlier. It's a good rule of thumb to try and highlight your waist wherever you can rather than hiding it.
Dress for the weather.
Above all, dress for the weather. It doesn’t matter how wonderful you look if you’re freezing your butt off. Look at the weather each morning and dress light to thick. That means the lightest, thinnest fabric should be the deepest layer, and the chunkiest pieces should be the very outer layer.
This way, you can remove layers as it heats up and put on layers as it gets cold as we mentioned before. Keep in mind that it's easy to lose your style as you start removing pieces. The trickiest part of dressing for the weather is balancing style with function, which includes keeping each layer balanced, practical, and fashionable.
Play with the order.
You don’t have to do the same shirt-hoodie/cardigan-jacket look every time. By playing with the order you layer your clothes, you can create more visual interest and add variety to your wardrobe. Try wearing a long-sleeved top underneath one with a loose raglan sleeve, a three-fourths length sleeve, or a kimono sleeve.
However, don’t even think of wearing a long-sleeved top underneath a short-sleeved top. The ‘90s are dead and gone. But that doesn't mean you can't take inspiration. Trends have "in" seasons and "out" seasons, but timeless fashion combines every trend into a chic style that's ever-changing.
Include fur appropriately.
Fur vests and jackets add bulk to any outfit, so it’s important to be careful with how you layer fur pieces. Clothing with smaller fur details is great for layering with other warm pieces, and the traditional fur vests should be layered with thinner, longer tops and skinny jeans. When trying to layer fur clothing, keep the silhouette rule in mind.
Fur may be historically luxurious, but keep in mind that it's a controversial fabric. The best way to source fur pieces ethically and sustainably is by purchasing secondhand. That way, you don't harm any animals and avoid buying flimsy faux fur pieces that won't biodegrade for decades.
Use one color to run through the layers.
We'll always encourage playing with color, especially during the dark winter months. And the best way you can do this is by trying out multiple colors and tastefully layering them. You just need to make sure that you use one color that runs through each layer to pull everything together.
Let’s say you want to use red, yellow, brown, and cream. As long as red runs through each piece, it’ll layer well. The same goes for statement pieces and neutrals. As long as your statement piece includes a color or complementary hue similar to the rest of your outfit, you'll probably have a successful outfit on your hands.
Spend more on some things.
Some pieces are worth spending a little more money on — especially if they're essentials or neutral basics. Not only do they look less tacky, but they will also last a long time. Many layering professionals suggest that you invest in a good leather jacket in a neutral color like black or brown because it can go with pretty much anything.
The same goes for a black turtleneck or a white T-shirt. Spending more than $25 on a T-shirt sounds egregious, but it's a smart move for the long term. Think about it. One high-quality T-shirt that lasts 3x as long as a cheap T-shirt is a better financial decision in the long run. While your neighbor continually buys replacement crappy T-shirts, you'll still have your expensive basic tee for years to come.
Scarves and hats change everything.
Keeping in mind that you should be very mindful of how much you accessorize and which ones you choose to layer, you might be shocked at how much scarves and hats can change your entire look. When it's especially nippy outside, you'll have to wear both accessories at the same time to keep warm without looking top-heavy.
Remember: balance, balance, balance! Don't wear a chunky scarf with a giant fluffy knit hat. Not only will you look like the little brother from A Christmas Story, but it's hard to make both accessories look cute together when both are trying to steal attention away from the rest of the outfit. Instead, opt for earmuffs or a headband with a chunky scarf.
Comfort is the most important thing.
Other than dressing for the weather, comfort is the most important thing to consider when layering for fall. Above all, else don’t wear something you aren't comfortable with or in — and we're not just talking about being too hot or cold (although that’s also important). We also mean morally and what best fits your personality.
Wear something that will feel effortless and won’t leave you thinking all day or feeling insecure. In other words, wear what you feel good in, inside and out! Some people prefer super trendy, stylish outfits, while others prioritize functionality above all else. Neither person is wrong in this scenario, they merely have conflicting priorities.
Try skirts over dresses.
Wait! Please, just hear us out on this one. Skirts over dresses can work., but only if you do it well. Think about the '50s when women would wear an apron over their dress. It looked pretty chic, right? At least, it did for the time. We would even wear that same thing today if it was socially acceptable.
Good thing we can take inspiration from the women who came before us and apply it to modern-day fashion! A sheer skirt over a dress can also look stunning. The pattern of the dress shows underneath, and the sheer skirt brings an extra touch of elegance. And if you're really brave, try skirts over pants... sounds wild, but it can be done! Just always keep balance in mind.
Get inspiration from nature.
Isn’t autumn beautiful? You should use the beauty of nature to inspire your look. The different colors and textures can genuinely make a fantastic outfit. We’re talking about rich browns, the reds of the falling leaves, and wool fabrics. This can also extend to patterns and fabric types.
Once you master layering for fall — which is arguably the toughest season to dress for — you can take what you've learned and apply it to every season going forward. This includes dressing for the weather and taking inspiration from the natural elements that each season provides us.
Get yourself some oversized items.
Buy some oversized items for autumn. No, you don't really have a choice. Sorry, not sorry! Fall is about being comfy and cozy, and what produces that effect better than an oversized sweater? Not to mention, buying an oversized jacket, coat, and sweater means you have plenty of space to layer under it.
Plus, oversized items — particularly oversized sweaters and jackets — are one of the handiest tools you can have in your toolbelt when it comes to autumn outfit styling. Need to balance out your skinny jeans with a baggy top? Bam! Oversized sweater to the rescue. Just make sure to define your waist by doing a French half tuck with your baggy tees when you can.
Embrace darker colors.
Don’t be afraid of darker colors! Autumn is the time to wear the stuff you can’t wear during the spring without looking emo, like plums and dark reds or all-black, even. Whether it’s makeup or just a sweater, embrace the dark side. Er, well, you know what we mean.
The fall is a season of transition, literally. So it's okay to stick with some bright yellows and rich oranges, but don't go too far into the light or you'll be stuck in the summer mindset and completely skip over the amazing fall fashion opportunities that are calling your name. Grab that plum lipstick and get styling!
Sheer clothing is your best friend.
Sheer clothing is your best friend when it comes to layering. It can go on top of pretty much anything to create a completely different look. Ones with opaque designs are our favorites because it gives a little extra oomph to solid color pieces.
And because sheer clothing was a huge trend in the spring and summer months, there will be plenty of sales on these products in the coming weeks. Don't go too crazy, but this is the perfect opportunity to stock up on much-needed light layering pieces to round out your complete fall aesthetic.
Dark layers under lighter ones have a slenderizing effect.
Just as the title says – dark layers under lighter ones can slenderize the way you look. Yes, "slenderize" is a word, and it means it will make you appear more slender. The more you know! Long story short, it’s all about where the lines fall. when it comes to clothing and color coordination.
There's a reason why professional stylists say that the color black has a slenderizing effect, which can be similarly achieved by layering the proper light and dark colors. For example, you could wear a black tank, black pants, a cream sheer sleeveless blouse, then a taupe jacket and your entire silhouette will appear taller and more slender.
Play with textures.
Along with patterns and a variety of colors, you should play with textures without fear. Mixing different textures can add a curated effect to your outfit while keeping you warm and cozy for the season. Not to mention that using the same material throughout your outfit can create a weighted effect that can hold you back.
For instance, an outfit made entirely of polyester isn't only an eyesore, but it's not very comfortable. People can spot from a mile away that you're a style amateur this way. Instead, you could pair a knit sweater with a denim jacket. These are two entirely different textures that play well together and look super cute.
Wear tights under skirts.
Just because it’s getting cold doesn’t mean that you can’t wear your skirts and dresses. This season's not only about pants! People forget about tights when fall rolls around because they’re typically so sheer. Just wear them under your skirts and dresses so you can wear that favorite outfit all year long!
Tights are one of the best assets to have in your closet for the fall and winter months. Why? Not only are they fantastic for expert layering, but they come in a wide variety of sizes, materials, and colors. Some are sheerer while others are even lined with cozy plush fabric to keep you warm. The world is at your fingertips!
Use belts to accentuate your shape.
Layering can create a square effect, and that doesn’t do many people’s bodies justice. It can make your body look pretty drab and give it a "droopy" look that's super unflattering. How do we fix this awful fashion flop? A belt will work wonders for your shape, guaranteed.
Any belt, no matter the brand or color, will change how your body looks. Whether it’s large or small, cinching a belt around your waist shapes your silhouette into a super sexy hourglass figure reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe. Don’t be afraid to use your belt as a statement piece, too.
Keep the layers functional.
Layering started out as a functional solution for styling chic fashion in cold weather, and everyone should keep this in mind. You can have the best of both worlds when it comes to layering for the fall and winter, but you have to remember that each piece needs to be both cute and functional.
The layer that’s right up against your skin is the base layer. It should be a fabric that breathes and is comfortable since it’s in contact with your skin. Your outermost player should be something warm, especially if you live in areas where the temperature gets down to single digits.
Don’t cover up your work.
We’re not advocating that you freeze for the sake of fashion. Similarly, we also don't advocate for purely functional fashion with no taste. That being said, be careful what you wear at both extremes. A jacket or coat can easily cover up all of your gorgeous styling.
If the weather is cooperative, try not to wear a tunic or something that covers up your hard work. On the other hand, if it's super cold outside, opt for a statement coat that's equally comfortable and warm while also being just as stylish as what you've got going on underneath the layers.