Layering 101: How To Wear Your Favorite Clothes More Often

The hardest part of being a clothes horse is choosing what to wear each morning — what's to say that one shirt is more worthy than another? They're both great! Or that a jacket isn't expressing the right mood? Anthropomorphizing your wardrobe might not be something every outfit-wearing person does, but it's just part of what makes leaving some pieces at home hard for us fashion-lovers. And for anyone cut from that cloth, creative layering is a godsend: The more items you wear at once, the more opportunities you get to wear each item.

We tapped photographer duo Juco (check out more of their work here) who worked with another art and ceramics creative twosome, Kat Hutter and Roger Lee (their work, here) to showcase eight of our most-utilized layering moves. Here's to not having to play favorites — the techniques, below.
Topshop Wool Mix Crop Top, $45, available at Topshop; Roland Mouret Allitsen Dress, $3,180, available at Moda Operandi.
The Strong Arm Move
This trick is so obvious that it shouldn't be a trick at all, but it's still something that, when done right, can transform the way your sleeveless tops and dresses look. Fashion people have been favoring solid-colored turtlenecks in complementary, bold colors to wear underneath shift dresses and tanks. Choose an undershirt that fits skin-tight throughout to give your outfit a seamless, color-blocked effect. Bonus points if your shirt has a bit of a texture (we prefer a ribbed knit or a sparkly lurex).
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Orley Henri Jacquard Top in Flamingo, $495, available at Spring; Orley Henri Jacquard Cardigan in Adriatic Blue, $695, available at Spring; Tibi dress; Zara Block Heel Leather Ankle Boots, $139, available at Zara.
The Forced Cold Shoulder Move
An exposed shoulder, whether it's by way of an off-the-shoulder blouse or two cheeky cut-outs in a shirt, is a big fashion trend at the moment, but you can easily mimic the look with a deep V-neck. Whether or not it'll stay is another story. We found that we've gotten ours to withstand the day if we wear it underneath a sleeveless dress or shirt. Just for kicks, we wore the shirt on top of another crew-neck tank.
Theory Apdime Short Sleeve Top, $170, available at Neiman Marcus; WHIT Knot Denim Bandeau, $248, available at Saks Fifth Avenue; Trademark pants.
AG Jeans top; Michael Kors pants; Milly pants; Gucci shoes.



The Cold-Weather Crop Move
Lightweight, bare-shouldered, exposed-midriff crop tops in not-summer months? Not without a jacket, but that defeats the purpose of letting these frilly, pretty shirts take the spotlight. Wearing one on top of another shirt lets you get more mileage out of your more delicate tops — sort of like a fancied up version of the Strong Arm. We love the look of color-matching it with a plain T-shirt, a button-up, or even a sheer situation.

The Petal Pants Move
Layering pants? Yeah, we know — sounds too kooky to actually look good. But with all the wide-legged, fancifully cropped pants out there right now, it's actually a wearable look to re-create. Layer a voluminous culotte over one that's a bit longer and narrower for a pretty flower-petal look. Or, go for the opposite: a super-billowy longer pant underneath something shorter with a bit more structure will give you a ruffled hem that's as pretty as an iris.
The Hem-On-Hem Move
We love playing around with mixing skirts with dresses — wearing pleated midi-skirts with shift dresses, A-line skirts on top of maxi-dresses, pencil skirts underneath sundresses, or a dozen other clever permutations. The trick is to make sure the top layer is substantial enough to hide any bunching or bumps underneath. Besides that, though, go wild. Double the hems to play with textures, colors, patterns, and shapes.
The Arrivals Limited Edition Suede de Nimes Jacket, $485, available at The Arrivals; Opening Ceremony Washed Denim Jacket, $575, available at Nordstrom; Sarah Chloe Classic Hoop Earrings, $325, available at Sarah Chloe.
Suzanne Rae top and bottom; Joseph pants; Martiniano shoes.




The Jacket-Shirt Move

Button up one slimmer-fit jacket all the way to the top, and wear with a coordinating jacket on top — and keep that one unbuttoned. If you keep the rest of your outfit on the simpler side, the layered collars and hardware on your jacket-on-jacket top will be clever, not fussy.

The Waistband Move
Usually, an exposed underwear waistband is a faux pas, but this isn't your typical whale tail, peek-a-boo thong. A high-waisted pretty pair of underwear — especially worn with a coordinating top or bra set — can look modern and cool. Make sure your bottoms are on the baggier side.
Maryam Nassir Zadeh dress; ALC sweater; ALC Julie Dress, $495, available at Saks Fifth Avenue; Alexander Wang Rudy Leather Platform Sandals, $595, available at Net-a-Porter.
The Cover-Your-Bases Move
One of the hardest things to figure out about layering is when to stop. If the point is showing off a wide variety of patterns, colors, shapes, and textures, you're doing it wrong if you're simply bulking up while hiding what's underneath. We love this move especially on colder days: Find pieces with an element that covers or exposes a part of your body, whether that's your chest, your neck, your back, your arms, or your midriff. Then, keep those parts in mind as your layer up, and try not to cover any part more than twice. In this example, we put a cropped, long-sleeved shirt underneath a longer-length sleeveless turtneck and a halter-neck dress. While that's technically three layers, there's not a lot of actual fabric-on-fabric happening, which cuts down on the bulk and lets each item shine.
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