Casual winter layering

How to layer your winter clothes

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to 39 Comments

This morning apparently it was 4 degrees. I say apparently because it’s school holidays, I did not need to have a child anywhere until 10am and I remained under my doona until the temperature gauge had reached double figures.

It’s these small luxuries that make the winter school holidays so, so good.

Anyway, there is a point to my rambling on about the weather. See, by lunchtime on a Queensland winter’s day, should you find yourself a lovely, protected patch of sunlight, it’s likely to be 20 plus degrees out.

A Queensland girl has no choice but to become a skilled clothes layerer and such extreme conditions.

We need to be able to peel off a layer every hour and still remain looking “pulled together”.

I used to get it very wrong. I’d buy lovely winter woollen knits that were perfect for getting in the car and going to work but once in the aircon, I’d be roasting by morning tea. Alternatively, I’d had a lightweight jacket over my shirt and pants and freeze my bits off.

Nothing changed until I looked at the science of a layered outfit. Once you break a layered outfit down, you can see how you can build it up.

I was reminded of this when Styling You reader Kerri emailed me recently:

So my problem is I can’t layer to save myself … there I said it! The very thought of it makes me want to crawl under my doona and stay there. Little problem with this – I have two littlies to look after, oh and then there’s work.  Honestly, I love the layered look and very much admire those who do it well, but every time I try, I look like I have thrown on every piece of clothing I own all at once.  Nothing seems to match or sit properly under something else….aaaaggghhhh!!  So I have avoided it for years, but I am tired of being cold in winter and decided it is time to tackle my inability to layer.

So, Kerri, this post is for you … and for any readers still scratching their heads and trying to get understand the layering concept.

Layering in 6 easy steps

Casual winter layering

1. Levis Style Leggings @ The Iconic $99.95 | 2. Witchery Scoop Neck Raglan Tee $59.95 | 3. Esprit Fine Boat Neck Sweater @ Birdsnest $79.95 | 4. Sussan High Low cardi $69.95 

1. Start with your base outfit, eg a pair of jeans, tee (tank, short or long-sleeve depending on how cold it is) and boots.

2. Add to the base outfit a cardi or knit (or both) and scarf. These are your base layers. If you’re inside and it’s warm, this is the base that you’ll come down to. Because it’s still layered, you’ll look pulled together.

3. If it’s really warm and the knit or cardi has to come off, leave the scarf on. Any time you layer one extra piece on to your outfit, the outfit is immediately lifted.

4. Ok, so it’s a really, really cold day. What do you layer on top of your jeans, tee, knit, boots and scarf? I’m a big fan of the cape-style coat in Queensland because it’s usually enough to keep me warm. Need something that will wrap around you a bit more? Opt for a long wool coat.

Casual winter layering

1. Feathers Boutique Greta Coat $699 | 2. Seed Scarf $49.95 | 3. D.Co Copenhagen boots @ Style Tread on sale $336

5. Want to look a bit more dressy in your layers? Add a jacket instead of a knit or cardi at step 2. Or alternatively swap the jeans and tee for a tights and a long-sleeved dress or tunic, layering a jacket, scarf and coat over the top.

6. Worried that layering will make you look like the Michelin woman? Avoid anything puffy (you know what I’m referring to here, don’t you?), chunky or bulky in your layers. You can achieve warmth with thin, wool layers or pieces from labels such as Metalicus (I have a stack of their basics).

Want some more inspiration? Head on over to my Layering board on Pinterest. I’ve pinned some great examples of layering for autumn, winter and spring.

Because layering doesn’t have to be – and shouldn’t be – confined to winter.

By definition, it’s about layering one extra thing to your outfit. I even do that in summer. How else do I justify my collection of summer-weight scarves?

Do you find it easy to layer your clothes in winter? What’s your favourite combination of layers?

Comments 39

  1. I’ve been practising my layering this week Nikki as I’ve set myself (and my Simple Savings blog readers) a fashion challenge for next week – we’re each going to wear the same item every day for one working week. That’s right: one item, 5 days of wear. The challenge is to style it differently every day (and for some of us, to see if anyone notices!).

    I’m going to be working my new wardrobe favourite – my Monique maxi from Virtu. It’s my version of the ‘condom’ dress. I’ve worn it twice this week already (yesterday with a blazer, scarf and boots and today with a denim shirt over the top and tan ankle boots) so I’ll give it a rest over the weekend and then get creative 🙂 It’s your inspiration – and my desire to pare back my overstuffed wardrobe – that has pushed me to this LOL

  2. Hi Nikki, I have recently become a covert and am loving the ‘How to’ posts, especially the Nina Proudman looks – feeling inspired to put together some ‘How to’ polyvore sets for visitors to The Dreamery to peruse. I am a layering obsessive, so really loved this particular post – what I love about this kind of look is that you can add one crazy, statement item but then tone it down by keeping the rest of the layers neutral and simple. I never thought I’d be caught dead in a pair of leopard stretch skinnies but these have become my absolute favourite winter style and I have been wearing them with everything from sweater dresses, to shirt + vest + necklace + scarf combos, to tee + tee + knit + cardi/draped jacket, normally in black. Sarah

  3. Thanks for the great tips. I feel the cold terribly so layering is totally my best friend. I love a chunky cardi over cotton tops that aren’t clingy – it’s totally my go-to outfit. I love that coat, I have a really similar one from SABA and it’s been an absolute staple since I bought it last year x

  4. I’m a big fan of stripey dress over a basic black or white long-sleave with boots any colour. Add a scarf and beige cardi, and you’re set. Remove the scarf, the cardi and you’re okay. If super cold add stockings in the mix with socks too…

  5. those boots are great! Styletread has a $20 off on orders over $69.90 using code PAYPAL12. The offer ends on Monday : )

    unfortunately in this part of Queensland it does get to 20+ degrees in winter.

  6. Depending on the weather, I may or may not layer.

    Sometimes it could be a long sleeve top with vest or blazer, then a warm coat over. If it’s freezing, and depending on where I’m going, a scarf or hat. Always boots in winter with thick socks.

    Sometimes I may just wear a top and a coat. I find shopping centres really turn up the heaters in winter and I end up hot and sweaty.

    You also need to worry about where you’re going and where you can put all of your layers as you strip them off. At the shopping centre, it’s normally into the trolley for me.

  7. Hi Nikki, I have just discovered your wonderful blog and have been devouring your recent and past entries. Really love the Keeping It Real and the information on the interesting retailers out there. I ventured into Seed yesterday and bought myself a cute flowy blue and white check T shirt for Spring/Summer (a bit optimistic in the middle of a Melbourne Winter! ), but it’s gorgeous. Never would have gone in there without reading your blog, thought it was just for the young yummy mummies. I’m a mum of 3, early fifties, part time work gal who just loves fashion, but at my age the ‘ am I mutton dressed as lamb’ thing creeps into my brain! Your blog is great – practical, realistic and best of all not showing us clothes etc that are out of most peoples price range. A most useful and enjoyable reference point.
    Thanks – look forward to it every day,

    1. Oh, thanks so much Shelley – I don’t believe we have to lose our sense of style. I’m 45 and love sharing style tips that suit a whole range of ages. Seed it brilliant as I could see everyone from young mums to grandmas in their designs.

  8. Layering is my saviour. I can’t wear anything bulky…so by adding fine clothing over fine clothing, I get warmth but don’t look like I’ve wrapped myself in bubble wrap. Thank God for metallicus, vigorella, kondo, seed, etc. Now…I’m off to pinterest to follow you!!!

  9. Thanks Nikki, I have been trying…..some success, some failures. Think I might try me some of that merino people are talking about! Other than that Fiji in two weeks, then hold my breath till Spring!

  10. Even though it doesn’t get as cold up here, as you know Nikki, it’s cold in the shade but once you’re inside the shopping centre etc, it gets quite warm. I hate that stuffy feeling and love that I can just take the cardi or jacket off. Layering is definitely the best option up here.
    Anne xx

  11. Think I’m just getting the hang of layering so am loving this post (and about to pop over to your pinterest pg!) It always looks so smart and effortless but can actually be really hardwork!?! Living in Vic it gets coooold in winter but I’m finding its great to use thin but warm knits like merino etc to still get the layers happening and still be able to move!! Oh and for heavens sake use ALL the chocs on your sons b’day cake! Can never have enough!!! xx

    1. No, Janelle, you can never have enough chocolates on a cake – especially if its creation is being directed by a nearly 7-year-old for his big brother. I agree, layering is really hard until you have the right ingredients in your wardrobe for the climate in which you live. I’ve just gone out with a tee layered over a tank and a Sussan knit cape on top (arms are bare underneath) – this was perfect for a sunny 19 degree lunch time.

  12. I love layers I have to lately it has been so cold , usually wear a long sleeved top under a jumper or a cardi ,then pop on a scarf and if I’m still cold add a jacket or a cape,I have a beautiful Sussan one,I am loving now,I don’t do bulky layers even though I am small boned I still feel like the michelin man/woman ,and boots and warm socks are a must,to keep my tootsies warm ,I hate cold feet.I have a few merino fine knits and they are great for layering I think if your base is warm ,you will stay warm,I will head over to pinterest to see your layering techniques there may be some I haven’t thought of.
    One thing with layering I wanted to ask was I own a few long draped cardi’s and I have seen on other people they have them belted and it looks so good ,but when I do it I look like a little piggy ,see I do not have a waist at all ,I have a straight up and down figure ,should I wear the belt lower say on my hips. Thank you in advance Nikki….

  13. Catching public transport to work, then working in an office than has a number of micro-environments in the meeting rooms (east or west facing?), I have no choice but to be a layering queen. My husband can’t believe how many layers come off in winter before getting anywhere seeing any skin- he reckons it’s like some sort of magic trick!
    I’m also a dedicated Metalicus wearer but my best find this year has been Ambra fleecy lined tights. They look like as sleek as 200 denier tights, but really add a great extra layer of warmth while maintaining a corporate (or partying!) look with skirts and dresses.

    1. Oh, I had heard of those tights – they are genius so you can still wear a dress in winter without the freeze factor. Had to laugh at your husband’s comment – think that’s why men love summer?!

  14. Nikki, thank you for this great post on layering. Living in Hobart I find it absolutely necessary to layer for most of the year! Your suggestions are awesome and the photos you’ve added are actually a really great visual aid for figuring out how to pull everything together. When I first moved to Hobart 6 years ago, I was hopeless at layering and my layers were much too bulky which made me look huge and felt uncomfortable too. Thankfully over time and with much trial and error I have become much better at layering so that I still look okay and not like a Michelan woman! I have found Maxshop, a NZ online clothing shop to be really handy for stocking up on lightweight merino layering items, particularly at sale time!

  15. Love this post. As a Canberra girl. -5 to start and maybe up to 15 for 1/2 an hour if we are lucky before the temps plummet again is the long winter experience. i am a big fan of fine merino layering tops and cardigans. Cotton just does not cut it in -5. But bulky wool can be too much once in the heated comfort of home or work.

  16. Great post. I do love layering but feel I miss the mark every now and then, so thanks! Oh, and I love summer scarves!!

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