While Arkansas’ ever-changing weather has our wardrobe disheveled and our ability to make weather-appropriate clothing choices damaged, winter is still among us. With cold and windy temperatures in the near future, the default choice is often to grab that oversized jacket and run out of the house. My challenge for you this season is to learn the art of layering. This winter, I encourage you to not just layer, but lay it onhick.
Layering seems like one of the easiest things for ladies to do, but actually, because of the vast options that the retail market provides, it removes the boundaries that every fashionista needs. The most popular mistake made when layering during the winter is combining clashing patterns. Most don’t see the error within their outfit until they have left the house, and at that point it’s usually too late to go home and change.
Editing is the most important tool you must use when layering clothing. The best way to properly edit an outfit is to take a picture of it from the neck down and evaluate how you truly feel about the pieces together, instead of looking at yourself in the mirror wearing the outfit. This is the most effective way to remove personal bias or denial of the incompatibility of the pieces from your decision. Another way to edit an outfit is to lay the clothes down on a color-neutral background, such as black or white, and use the same evaluation technique as per the photo evaluation.
Texture is another key component in your arsenal when taking on the task of layering clothing. I personally am a texture enthusiast and believe that if it doesn’t feel good when you touch it, it usually won’t translate well when you put it on. Keeping that in mind, I suggest combining different textures. When you combine different textures, you get the same result as if you were cooking a gumbo or stew. With gumbo, the different ingredients are what make the dish great, and the same result comes about when combining textures in an outfit.
Understanding dimension is the next piece to the puzzle that is layering. The proper execution of dimension is the art of using things that taper close to the body and things that flow and breathe as well. The last thing you want to do is look like you’re trapped in your clothing.
A great outfit that uses good execution of dimension and texture is a chiffon pilgrim blouse, corduroy pants, a wool pashmina and knee-high leather riding boots. This outfit contains tons of different textures: chiffon, which is sheer and airy; corduroy, which is fitted and ribbed; wool, which is thick and warm; and leather, which is edgy and weather-resistant. The dimensions in this outfit are plentiful, too: The straight-leg pants pull you in; the blouse is light and breathable; the boots create a separation between your legs and feet, which either can make the wearer look taller or shorter; and the pashmina adds width, which is scary to some women, but actually, because of the combination of the scarf with the skinny pant, it actually creates an illusion that the wearer is smaller.
Since the options for men are less, the art of layering is a lot more simple. Texture is not as important for men’s fashion, although it is a component nonetheless. The dimension and shape to aim toward whenever layering clothing is the martini glass: broad shoulders giving an illusion of a muscular composition, and a small waist.
An ideal men’s layered outfit would be a tweed or herringbone blazer with defined shoulders, a cashmere shawl-neck sweater, khaki chino trousers and distressed leather combat boots. The textures in this outfit are abundant: The tweed has lots of ridges and feel, the sweater is soft and light, the pants are comfortable and breathable, and the leather is rough and controlled. The dimensions are very simple: The blazer provides width; the sweater provides length and height; the pants, although relaxed, add to the height; and the boots create a sense of edge.
Layering is a limitless journey with endless choices and a plethora of combinations for the wearer. All you have to do is remember the key tools to executing it properly: editing, texture and dimension. If you keep those in mind, nothing can stop you from looking great, not even the weather. Now, get to layering, and lay it on thick!