Layering from Work to Play, Winter to Summer

Where I live, in Connecticut, Mother Nature commemorated the first day of spring with a snowstorm. What’s a gal to do, but layer up!

Here’s a look using one skirt and a few tops and toppers to make layered looks to get you through all those awkward seasons and situations.

I think of five key strategies when layering:

  1. Color – A layered look doesn’t make a ton of sense if you’re all in black or even in a variety of neutrals. You need a pop of color or two – preferably something unexpected.
  2. Pattern – A layered look in different solid colors also doesn’t really work well. Try one piece with a pattern, two if you’re bold.
  3. Texture – You need some variety of texture – a mix of knits and wovens – in different types of fabrics.
  4. Weight – Vary the weight of what you wear. If everything’s really heavy, you are going to be hot. Too light, and you’re cold.
  5. Fit – When layering, you need some items that fit closely and some that are looser. If everything has too much wearing ease, you may get lost in your clothes. If everything’s close-fitting, how will you move?

Let’s say I’m going to work tomorrow, in a rather buttoned-up office, and then I’m going out for drinks with friends. Here’s my layered look for the office, modeled by my fab fashion friend, Ruby Dressform:


“Ruby” dresses for the office. Professional!

I’m a big believer in the “third piece” for the office  that extra layer that makes you look polished. The whole outfit is a woven skirt and two different types of knits:

  • MariaDenmark’s Yasmin Yoke Skirt in a cotton twill – an overrun from Milly. This is an A-line skirt that’s fitted at the waist and hips, then flares to above the knee. It’s an unusual print for being dark colors on a white background. A print like this is ideal for making seasonal transitions. I wear it in winter with dark colors and black tights.
  • McCall’s 7247 long-sleeved T-shirt, in black cotton jersey. Rather close fitting.
  • Grainline Studio’s Morris Blazer in teal ponte knit. It’s fitted but not very close-fitting and heavier than the T-shirt.

After a hard day at the office, we go out for drinks. The black knit shirt untucks to reveal:


Ruby’s ready to party with a more edgy look.

An asymmetrical hem! Paired with some knee-high black boots, Ruby is ready for a night out. The T-shirt is close-fitting at the bust and arms. The underlay is also close-fitting, while the asymmetrical overlay swings free, so it contrasts with the underlay and pairs well with the close-fitting waist and hips of the skirt.

This skirt works well in the summer too, because of white of the print. Here’s an office look and a casual look. The secret is to use lighter layers, to deal with air conditioning chills in the office, home or car, yet can come off quickly when you’re outside.


“Ruby’s” summer office look. Professional, yet breezy!

The skirt’s paired with a fitted layer and a loose layer:

  • Jalie 3248 Drop-Pocket Cardigan in a tissueweight cotton sweater knit. This is pretty gauzy, slouchy and flowy.
  • A very close-fitting sleeveless blouse in teal lawn from the Italian sewing magazine La Mia Boutique.

The cardigan’s knit doesn’t wrinkle much, so it’s perfect for stowing in a bag or draping over a chair if Ruby doesn’t want it.

And here’s Ruby on the cazh side:


“Ruby” is feeling free in light layers.

The lawn sleeveless top (sorry it’s a bit rumpled, Ruby’s had a long day) is worn now as the flowy layering piece. It can be unbuttoned like a jacket or buttoned, tucked or untucked, depending on how breezy Ruby wants to be. Underneath, she’s wearing a very close-fitting tank top in cotton stretch jersey from New Look 6285. She could put the cardigan on on top of it all if she wanted to.

I use layers like this to get me through spring and fall. I hope spring finally arrives here in New England! For more on how I dress for my climate, see my blog, Distaff.

12 thoughts on “Layering from Work to Play, Winter to Summer

    • Steal away! The third piece idea is really great – looks polished to have a jacket, cardigan, scarf, belt etc to complete the office look.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, especially since I have that same skirt fabric. I’m so thrilled to have found your blog. When I have more time I’m really looking forward to making a cup of tea and reading through it. I love your writing.


    • You’re very kind. Thanks for reading. I’m excited to meet someone with the same fabric. Where did you buy it? I got mine at Banksville Designer Fabrics in Norwalk, Conn.


  2. Love all your outfits – I need some of those lovely cotton lawn sleeveless blouses for summer! That’s up next on my sewing roster 🙂 I’ve just finished a few light cotton and silk camis (and silk shorts 🙂 ) for the summer ahead but I don’t own a single sleeveless cotton or linen shirt and they beat knits in my opinion for those hot summer days. I favour skirts in the summer too – they are cooler than shorts in my opinion.


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