How To Tackle Layering This Fall

Layering is an art and, to this day, we're still hunting for the secret formula. Any social media star who makes it look effortless and easy is lying (or we're just envious). Toss in the confusing up and down climates of fall and we're left wondering how anyone expects us to dress for weather that can run from 50 degrees in the morning to 70 by late afternoon.
We may be preaching to the choir, but there’s a finesse to getting layering down pat. To make it easier on ourselves, we try and abide by a simple three-part structure: bottom, middle, and top. Elementary, we know, but it's easy to overthink it when you're standing in front of your closet. The key also lies in selecting the right pieces — not just any old sweater will do. There's a balancing act to avoiding stiff, bulked up sleeves and exposed necklines, and with the steps ahead, we think we're getting that much closer to figuring it all out.
1 of 13
The Bottom Layer
It's easy to overlook the foundation of our outfit, since we usually find a T-shirt or throw on a sweater all call it a day. But once you walk into a room with a running heater and the coat, the sweater, and the scarf all come off, that forgotten layer is suddenly on display.

This tip should feel familiar since odds are your closet already has a few turtlenecks reserved for layering. Instead of selecting an obvious neutral tone, elect for a bold color (even cobalt blue would do). A bright hued roll-neck peeking out from underneath a cardigan or jacket is just the playful touch you need.

The Elder Statesmen Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater, $1,065, available at Net-A-Porter.
2 of 13
Okay, okay. We're cheating a bit since this piece already comes as a set. Layering a short sleeve T-shirt under a slip dress in summer? Great. Layering a long-sleeve tee under a slip dress for fall? Jackpot. Plus, think about how good an asymmetric slip will look under an oversized denim jacket.

Leo Ossegem Chain Slip Cami and Tee Top, $425, available at Opening Ceremony.
3 of 13
— PAID —

Pull this roomy leopard-print sweater on over your go-to turtleneck for a look with maximum coziness. For extra warmth, you can even layer a light trench on top without worrying about it becoming too bulky.

Zadig & Voltaire Taliah Sweater, $548, available at Zadig & Voltaire.
4 of 13
Rather than going on top, try a hoodie as the bottommost layer. Layer one under a crew-neck sweater for an unexpected styling approach.

Zara Hooded Sweatshirt with Chain Drawstring, $49.90, available at Zara.
5 of 13
One piece of advice: Stick with breathable options. A mesh or see-through top is your best friend when you start to overheat. Pick one with a statement sleeve, like this flared sleeve blouse, and let it peek out from underneath some rolled-up sweater sleeves.

Mango Flared Sleeve Blouse, $59.99, available at Mango.
6 of 13
The Mid Layer
The middle land, when it comes to layering, is where you get to be your coziest and most inventive. From chunky cardigans to zip-up jackets, this is the layer that's typically on display. And that's why we're looking at the longline sweater as fall's ultimate gem. It pairs well with jeans and a tee or an ankle-length dress, and is the best option to be layered underneath a classic trench or wool coat.

Oak + Fort Cardigan 1100, $78, available at Oak + Fort.
7 of 13
Leg-skimming cardigans aside, tried-and-true cardigans are also a good pick. We like a cut that's slightly oversized so you can wear it off-the-shoulder once the coat comes off .

Wilfred Free Velzen Sweater, $165, available at Aritzia.
8 of 13
We actually love the idea of structured jacket. This classic pick can be worn over any thin breathable top and under a wide-armed coat.

Ganni Sheffield Denim Jacket, $297, available at Ganni.
9 of 13
The Outer Layer
The finishing touch to your fall outfit can make or break your day, and there's a fine line between opting for a coat that's not too heavy but doesn't leave you shivering in the cold either. Since we're still riding that plaid blazer trend come fall, this classic long option does just the trick. Its slightly oversized fit will let you pile on those layers in without being too constrictive.

& Other Stories Wool & Mohair Blend Long Coat, $245, available at & Other Stories.
10 of 13
This cropped wool coat is begging to be styled with longer hem under-layers. We're dreaming of a tucked-in slip dress and a cream turtleneck to top things off.

Mansur Gavriel Wool Cashmere Short Opera Coat, $895, available at Mansur Gavriel.
11 of 13
A high-neck, bomber-style jacket checks off a lot of boxes: It's roomy, it's windbreaker-esque, and it's like an all-day pillow.

H&M Quilted Wool-blend Jacket, $299, available at H&M.
12 of 13
We keep telling you to invest in statement sleeves, so why not show them off? Whether you call them sleeveless coats, gilets, or longline vests, the no-sleeve coat is the perfect middle ground when it comes to solving the hot-to-cold ratio.

Marni Hooded Sleeveless Double Breasted Coat, $7,990, available at Farfetch.
13 of 13
Related Video

More from Styling Tips


R29 Original Series