A few years ago one of my friends got a job at The Buckle. Although employees didn’t have a uniform, and weren’t required to exclusively wear clothing from the store, they were required to wear at least three layers every time they worked. I think this three-layer rule is a really excellent rule to think about when getting dressed (I think of it at least once a week). If you think about it, visually interesting outfits almost always have three layers or more (jewelry and belts count as their own layer).
But as easy as it sounds in writing, it’s can sometimes be a challenge to actually layer your clothing. How do you create a layered outfit that works? That isn’t bulky? That isn’t too busy or overwhelming?
Click through the slideshow below and I’ll show you a nicely layered outfit that I put together, starting with just a simple dress. It also includes a few tips on how you can layer with your dresses to create a well-balanced, non-bulky, visually interesting outfit!
(Also, I’ll be posting more layering tips with different outfits over the next few weeks!)
A Step By Step Guide to Layering With Dresses 1 of 9
Click through for a step by step guide to adding layers to your dresses!
BORING! 2 of 9
This striped dress is one of my favorites. It's actually a maternity dress (that I made by cutting up two maternity shirts and sewing them together), but I get lots of use out of it even when I'm not pregnant.
Even with the navy and white stripe, it is pretty boring by itself. Click through and let's add a bunch more layers to transform it from dull to fabulous.
Shoes 3 of 9
Just so my feet aren't bare, let's start with shoes. I chose a fun pair of booties, because I knew I wanted to create a fall look. But really any pair of shoes will work -- knee-high boots, booties, wedges, pumps, flats...whatever you'd like.
Let's move on...
(shoes from Forever 21)
Button Up 4 of 9
One of the easiest layers to add is a button up shirt. My chambray shirt here is a great neutral layering piece that compliments my patterned dress and doesn't overwhelm. If your dress is solid-colored, try a button-up with a pattern like polka dots or plaid.
(chambray from target)
Tights 5 of 9
During the fall, tights are a great way to add some color to your outfit, make it feel more wintery, and add some warmth. Since my dress is patterned, I chose a darker colored pair. If my dress had been solid, I might have gone for a brighter pair, like fuschia or cobalt.
Remember, the key to layering is balance. You want to make sure your pieces are complimenting, not competing!
(tights from we love colors)
Accessories 6 of 9
I almost always add my accessories at the very end, but I took these photos in kind of a weird order. So let's talk about accessories now.
I added a watch, chunky bracelet, and a pretty hair clip. You could also add a necklace, but I'll be adding a belt in a minute and I usually choose one or the other, not both. If you like more sparkle, add a whole armful of bracelets!
(hair clip from forever 21, bracelet from inpink, watch from michael kors)
Socks 7 of 9
Socks are one of my favorite layering pieces these days. I picked up this red polka dot pair at Old Navy and have been wearing them non-stop. Since I'm keeping the rest of the outfit fairly neutral, the red is a nice pop of color. It is the statement piece. If you're wearing brightly colored tights, or a colorful necklace, or a brightly colored dress, try a neutral color sock, like navy or gray.
The red works here only because the rest of the outfit isn't competing against the color. So keep that in mind when you're adding your layers.
(socks from old navy)
Belt 8 of 9
Belts are great for a number of reasons, but here it does three things: defines my waist, breaks up the big sea of stripes, and grounds the outfit. If you look at the photo before, and then look at this photo, you can tell how much of a difference one little thin belt makes. This is why I love belts.
You could stop layering here if you wanted...you have plenty of layers, and the outfit feels complete (although I would add a bag). But I went one step further just for fun...
(belt from kohls)
Vest 9 of 9
Vests are huge for fall this year. I just recently got this one and have been wearing it all the time. They're a fun statement piece, AND they keep you super warm! Since mine is a dark navy color, it offsets the lighter tones of the dress and chambray; if your vest is lighter, pair it with darker pieces to help it stand out. And if it's a bright color, lose the socks 🙂
The last thing to add is a bag (which I forgot to photograph), and you have a perfectly layered and balanced outfit! Happy layering!
(vest from joules)
Find more of Merrick’s style and writing at Merrick’s Art.