It’s got really cold here in the UK so it’s time to start being clever with your outfits. Fluctuating temperatures can make choosing what to wear even more tricky than normal.
When you work from home, you can choose to crank up the central heating, or turn it off and wrap yourself in a blanket and drink all the tea. The key here is that you are in control of the temperature and your layers.
When you leave your house in the morning, catch the train to work, sit in an office all day then travel home again, you aren’t in control of the temperature. This is when you’ll do well to put some thought into creating an outfit that can be adapted to the changing conditions and still feel stylish.
Layering is a much used and beloved term of fashion writers everywhere, but in the real world it can be really hard to pull this look off successfully.
From a practical perspective, it makes great sense to put a range of clothing together that collectively make one outfit for an entire day
So, if you’d like to be able to layer, without looking like Joey in the episode of Friends where he wears ALL Chandlers clothes, here are some tips:
Layering for your body type
Top heavy figures
Adding layer upon layer to your top half can make you look and feel bulky. If you are already bigger on top, the most flattering way to keep warm is fine layers and truly warm fabrics. I’m a big fan of the Uniqlo HEATTECH layering tops which are very thin and SO warm which means they are undetectable under a blouse. Check out Uniqlo here.
Since this layer takes up almost no space, you can add a knit, a blouse, jacket, cardigan, scarf or whatever takes your fancy. I must admit I’ve been known to nip to the loo and remove this layer (sometimes the difference between outdoors and inside is TOO much!), but again with the layer being so lightweight, you can easily pop it into your handbag.
Another great tip if you feel top heavy, is to stick to lighter or brighter colours below the waist to draw attention down. Also, be careful with scarves as they can add extra bulk on top of your clothes. It is possible to wear a scarf without adding poundage, but to be honest on a freezing cold day, I wouldn’t worry too much.
A longer line coat can be very helpful over your outfit. It will elongate your body which means that regardless of how you tie it, a gorgeous scarf works well. By contrast, if you wear a bulky scarf with a short, padded coat you are emphasising your top heaviness and may not feel good.
Bottom heavy figures
If you are pear-shaped, layering on top will help you to balance out your figure (lucky you!).
Use soft textures and print in your layering to add interest. The main thing to watch out for is to ensure that the hemline of each of your layers is at a narrow part of your body. A horizontal line across your widest part (hips, bottom or thighs) is usually not flattering.
Also, if you are layering different colours together, avoid having a light colour over your problem areas. It’s like highlighting your worst bits with a florescent pen and will draw attention.
For evenly-balanced figures (the same dress size top and bottom) you can play a bit more you’re your layering but check in with your outfit to see if you’ve unintentionally knocked your proportions out of whack.
Top layering tips
If you have soft colouring (your skin-tone, eyes and hair are similar in tone) stick to soft tones worn together for your layers.
A lovely up-to-date colour combination is red and burgundy or pink and brown. (Make sure you choose colours that suit your skin tone!)
If your hair is darker than your skin-tone and your eyes are bright you are likely to look fabulous in highly contrasting colours layered together. Think black and white, navy and ecru or bright red with metallic.
Making each layering piece work on its own, as well as underneath others, is the holy grail of wintertime dressing. This means you can wear out of season pieces and continue to get the cost per wear down all year round.
Keep your body shape in mind when you choose your base layer. If you are very slim you may look fabulous in just a camisole on your top half but for the vast majority of us, this is as good as underwear and not something we want to be seen in outside the bedroom/yoga studio.
If your base layer is a thermal top, you might decide to keep it covered, but these days there are some really rather lovely ones to be found (another shout out to Uniqlo!). My most worn base layer so far this year is this ballet style thermal top. The neckline is so wide and low that it is undetectable under most of my tops.
Over your base layer you could wear a blouse, a top, shirt or jumper.
A third layer (before your coat), might be a jacket or cardigan. Depending on your figure type, it could be nipped in to show off your waist, or have straight seams and a longer hemline (a boyfriend-style jacket, if you are not naturally blessed with a defined waist.
There are lots of cardigan-type jackets around this season. ‘Shackets’ are a cross between a shirt and jacket and ‘coatigans’ are a cross between a coat and a cardi. These pieces bridge the gap between a jacket and knitwear. A jacket in a softer fabric is a great solution if you want to wear it all day, and can look smart without being too corporate.
I promise this post isn’t sponsored by Uniqlo BUT they have brilliant slimline, down gillets and jackets that act as a perfect extra warm and cosy layer underneath your coat. Then, if you warm up (or have a mid-life hot flash) and want to remove it, you can squish it down to fit in a small pouch and throw it into your bag.
If you prefer to have just one coat that serves every purpose, I’d say choose one in a neutral colour that is ¾ length or longer. This will work over skirts and dresses or trousers and jeans and is more versatile than a short coat.
Layering can be tricky but following my tips should mean that you can pull it off with no problem.
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Great ideas Helen.
Will prevent my winter Michelin woman appearing when Chesham (coldest place in UK last year hence our pride of place on the weather map) hits its winter bast:)
Glad you like them Elizabeth! Keep warm x
Better late than never, I’m catching up!! Many thanks for this, it’s really useful. I love laying but like the lady above am very wary of the Michelin look! On the subject of thermal tops M&S do a “Heatgen” one which is slightly thicker (not enough to add bulk)also with a low neck. Great when you have to be out a lot.
Good to know! Thanks Pam x