How to layer?

In French we use the idiom “dressing like an onion” to say we layer clothes in order to stay warm.

Wondering why? Google onion pics.

The problem is that no bulb has never been acknowledged as a chic icon.

How to be a stylish onion? Let’s find out!

Before we begin let’s agree on the fact that layering means that we will be able to actually see the layers.

And I chose to speak only about layering the upper part of your body because, except, for the skirt/pants combo that recently attempted a come back, I do not have a lot to say.

1. Which way?

There are two kinds of layering:

– Vertical layering

Where you wear your different layers opened so they create vertical lines.

This is a great way to slim your figure (if you do not use chunky fabrics).

Sincerely Jules

– Horizontal layering

Where one layer is longer than the other.

Subtle layering 2

Layering can be very subtle

2. Cut

– When worn opened vests, blazers or cardigans should fall vertically and not draw a trapeze shape

Alda Jodorowsky for Lancome

Alma Jodorowsky for Lancôme

For instance on this busty girl here, the jacket escapes on the sides drawing the trapeze I was referring to.

– Any classic piece such as a perfecto or a trench is always a good layering option

La cool and chic layering

La cool and chic

– A blouse showing collar and sleeves under a sweater add some twist to any look


– Match the necklines

Do not ruin your V neck with a round neckline showing off

– To warm up your summer dress prefer dressing on top of it than under it

Two reasons: the stuffs UNDER the dress could create odd shapes and volumes and you will look like a school girl.

Prefer to wear a cardigan/ a blazer over it and a large scarf to keep warm.

Kendi everyday

Kendi everyday

3. Fabrics

– The thickest piece of clothes should be on top

Otherwise you can look like a stuffed teddy bear.

(See here,  how her stiff jean blouse, makes her fluid top look odd?)

– The fabrics should look different from each other

black blazer black dress

Here, she wears her skin tight jersey cotton dress with a stiffer blazer

– Layering transparent fabric creates great outfits

transparent layering 2

– If you have round shoulders prefer layering fluid fabrics

Additionnelle layering

Addition Elle

– If you are thin, layering thick fabrics is a good way to shape up

4. Lenght

– The top layer can be longer than the one underneath (classic) layering

– A shorter top layer is a great fashion statement

erica wilson layering

Erica Wilson

Be careful though, if the hemlines do not match, that will look strange, like here with the match of a jean blouse showing under a Chanel like suit blazer.

5. Colors and prints

– Layers of different colors always work great

Colors and prints layers

– Layers of the same colors shall have a different fabric (see 3.)

So you actually notice the layering effect.

– Layers are a great way to add a pop of colors and/or of prints into your outfit

Printed layer

– For a slimming effect, use one of the layers in a darker shade than the other

5. How many layers?

I recommend two or three, four being a maximum.

First layer: the thinnest = dress, T-shirt, blouse, knit, sweater, etc.

Second layer: Opened blouse, cardigan, crew or V neck knits, jean jacket, etc.

Third layer (can often be the layer “too much”) : jean jacket, cardigan, etc.

Fourth layer: the coat layer

sincerely jules layering

Sincerely Jules wearing three layers

7. Details

Beware that the details of the different layers match each others.

Here the buttons of the cardigan do not match the zip of the motorcycle jacket for instance

8. Why layering?

Not only is layering stylish, but it is also a good idea to adapt to every moment of the day: the first layer is for the office, the second to warm up inside and the third to go out.

It can help you use your thin clothes like dresses, blouses in colder weather.

And you? Do you layer?

Cover collage: Harper and Harley, unknown


13 Responses to “How to layer?”
  1. J says:

    Can you explain more about matching hemlines? If I wanted to layer a shirt like this under a light denim button down, what kind of length and hemline should I look for?


  2. Sarah says:

    I avoid layering as a fashion statement- it rarely works and just destroys the silhouette adding bulk. I will wear a coat or a cardigan of course in harmony with the outfit. The best ‘layering’ looks have faux collars that sort of thing…

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Faux collars can help not creating bulk indeed but for the ladies out there, I advise choosing high quality of those cause cheap faux layering is one of the worst fashion faux-pas 🙂

  3. Fashion Girl says:

    Bonjour Alois,

    I always find that layering with various thin fabrics is better as opposed to thick ones because that will actually maintain your figure. I tried layering with thicker fabrics and it just made me look bigger than my normal size, which is definitely not a pleasant look. Also, your body becomes quite disproportionate. Nevertheless, I still love all your tips that you mentioned above about layering 🙂 By the way I love your blog. I just discovered it a few hours ago 🙂 xo

  4. Kat says:

    Is the “trapezing” you mention just the sides falling apart from each other as they go down, like the bottom of the letter “A”? Do you have any recommendations to prevent it from happening for those with a larger bust?

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Hello Kat,
      Yes, that is what I mean, the thing we wanna avoid the most beeing the trapezing beginning from the bust cause that really is doesn’t flatter the figure.
      I have dressed clients with a larger bust and, from my experience, it depends both from the fabric and from the shape of the piece of clothes.
      Thicker or fluider fabrics tend to fall nicely and verticaly: that is what you are aiming for. Regarding the shape, the best way is… to try! But I have noticed that one of the mistake my clients do is to choose some cardigans, vests or blouses that are too tight and therefore want to run to the sides when worn open. So when it comes to layer, do not choose too tight 🙂

  5. Naomi says:

    Any tips on what to put under v neck jumpers? At the moment I just wear t shirts but with round necks, but I see you say to match the necks. Really useful article, thank you.

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Either you wear it with low neckline top that you do not see in the V or you add a layer with a blouse underneath. If the V is really low, you can add a top that draws an horizontal line underneath as in the pic with the baby pink oversize V neck in the “how to wear oversize” article.
      Hope it helps 🙂

  6. Rae says:

    Thanks for the advice. I like layering but at times it looks a bit awkward as it makes me look like a cube during winter.

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Hi, If you wanna be sure not to look like a cube use thin fabrics. Like a kimono or a fluid jacket as a second layer. Then you can add a coat for the third and last layer (skip the fourth layer).

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