Layering Made Easy

Do you find yourself struggling to dress appropriately when going from the tropical weather outdoors -- even with the rainy season -- to air-conditioning that greets you the minute you start your morning commute? Fluctuating temperatures can present fashion dilemmas of the layering kind. How much is too much, and how can you pile on clothing stylishly?

“Start simple,” says Anne Bella, former fashion editor at Preview Magazine and in-house fashion stylist for the SM Department Store chain. “Practice with the items you already have: a sweater over a button-down shirt, a vest over a polo, or a cardigan over your favorite sundress.”

Building Your Best Base
Bella advises wearing a thin base layer to minimize bulging and bumps, and to keep a neat look overall. “Layering thin fabrics is a must in hot and humid places, especially if you’re doing it for fashion,” says Bella. “However, make sure your top layer serves its purpose and will keep you warm in air-conditioning.” Try a sheer lace top under a thin knit sweater or cardigan. “Avoid wool, fur or any thick fabric, unless you don’t mind looking like a (sweaty) fool.”

A great top-layer investment is a thinly lined navy blazer, which goes with practically everything. When traveling, it’s also an easy way to look dressed-up and stay warm and comfortable at the terminal, which tends to be colder than expected.

Cute and Classic Combos

Try these stylist-approved buildable wardrobe pairings:

  • For a classic preppy look, layer a lightweight sweater over a pique polo shirt.
  • On a breezy, rainy day, don a turtleneck shirt over or under a sundress.
  • For a no-frills layering option, wear a cardigan over a tank top. This also tempers the skimpy factor of a low-cut tank.
  • Feeling trendy? Try the androgynous look by layering a tuxedo jacket over a cocktail dress.

Make Use of Color
“Color is always key in layering. Make sure the ones you choose complement each other or have meaningful contrast,” says Bella. “Texture also makes things interesting: A sequined top under a knit cardigan creates a unique statement.” Speaking of cardigans, a pop of color can tone down the frump factor. Try one in mustard, tangerine or violet. If you work at a place where a loud-colored cardi isn’t exactly office-appropriate, try a classic hue in a modern boyfriend cut, and accessorize it accordingly with a vibrant cobalt skinny belt, a bejeweled pin or an elegant brooch.

As for accessories, you can go minimalist or all-out statement. “It all depends on your personal style and what type of layering you put together,” says Bella, who suggests wearing a contrasting leather cuff with a ladylike ensemble if you’re daring, or pairing a costume statement necklace with a simple T-shirt, jeans and sweater. “Accessories should anchor or complement a look,” she says.

Wrap It Up

If layering isn’t your thing, a chic and warm alternative is a scarf. Celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Camilla Belle and Jessica Alba may be responsible for popularizing scarves for all-year wear. Actress and singer Selena Gomez claims she wears hers even when outside temps reach 100 F!