"Jellyfishing" Is the New Lamp-Shading: Here's How to Master Winter's Weird Silhouette Trend
Plenty of fashion-lovers live by one rule once the winter weather rolls around: When it's really freakin' cold, warmth comes first — end of story. It's why we've gone ahead and invested in a handful of knit items, enjoy adding scarves to our outfits, and are even tempted to test out layering dresses over pants (hey, if Lizzo says it's cool...).
It's also why 'jellyfishing' has now emerged as one of winter's biggest styling trends — AKA the art of wearing your chunkiest puffer coat or bulkiest sweater with slim-fitting bottoms, creating a look that's similar to a bell-shaped jellyfish body and its tentacles. While the top part is meant to keep you nice and toasty, the form-fitting bottom adds the perfect amount of contrast and plays around with proportion.
"Styling larger outerwear with smaller bottoms is a great example of the 'extreme silhouette' trend that we are seeing so much of this season — think oversized outerwear, extreme lug sole boots and loafers, and soft volume handbags," NYC-based trend forecaster and fashion consultant Jessica Richards tells InStyle. "It's driven by our post-lockdown desire for presence in our dressing, while also wearing elements of practicality."
Of course, the seasonal aspect of jellyfishing is only part of the reason why this combination works so well — and why both celebrities and influencers have been hopping on board as of late. As LA-based personal stylist Stephanie Gisondi-Little says, this balancing act is one that's flattering when it comes to all oversized items, not just puffers and sweaters.
"In general, when one wears a bigger, blousier, more voluminous top, I suggest a slimmer bottom to help balance proportion overall and allow us to see the person under the look, not just the clothing itself," she tells us. "The same goes for voluminous bottoms, like palazzo pants — wearing them with a more fitted silhouette on top creates balance and allows us to see the body beneath the clothing."
While this particular pairing is simple in theory, the experts tell us there's still a right and a wrong way to jellyfish this winter.
"I am a fan of this trend as long as the pieces achieve a proportional split," says celebrity stylist and Affirm partner Tara Swennen, who works with A-list clients like Kristen Stewart and Allison Janney. "The key to this trend is maintaining balance — opt for a structured jacket or coat, but not one that is so oversized or boxy that it envelops your frame."
Swennen has even put this styling trick into play numerous times when dressing Stewart for press appearances, using both outerwear and a structured blazer.
"I recently paired a DSQUARED2 menswear tuxedo jacket with dainty lace leggings and a lightweight tank on Kristen Stewart for a Sirius Radio appearance in NYC," she tells us, while also sending an example of the actress wearing a large overcoat, slim-leg jeans, and babydoll shoes.
Editor in Chief of LuisaViaRoma, Kate Davidson Hudson, also agrees that fit is everything when it comes to jellyfishing, ensuring that the top part of your outfit — especially coats — won't overpower you or feel too distracting.
"I would be careful not to lean too aggressively into the trend to the point it looks as though you're drowning in the coat. I think where people miss the mark is by opting for coats that are too oversized around the shoulders and across the neckline. You should look for a roomy-but-correct fit across the shoulders and neck, deferring to pieces with an extra roomy cut around the body and that will hit anywhere from above your knee to mid-thigh."
As for the bottom half of your jellyfishing outfit, a pair of leggings will always be a great solution (and are likely the most comfy choice), but whatever you wear must define your shape and create contrast.
Model Amber Zhaoyang Wang even recommends giving the trend a more transitional spin, too.
"I prefer to use either a large puffer coat, trench coat, or blazer, and pairing them with a form fitting shirt and biker shorts," she tells InStyle. "Not only does it create lots of interest through contrast, but the large coat can also act as a statement piece."
Of course, the last step when it comes to getting dressed is determining your footwear, and there's really no wrong answer when figuring out what to wear with that bulky top and tight bottom. Less clunky shoes, such as loafers or sneakers, will help create a full jellyfishing contrast and feel more casual, but Maria Juvakka, blogger and creator of Chic Pursuit, says a platform is also an extremely flattering choice.
"Wearing an oversized coat with a lug-sole boot or mule can be a great way to balance out the look. If you're petite, you want to add a bit of height on your feet so you don't look drowned out by the big jacket."
While you probably already have the makings of a jellyfishing outfit in your everyday rotation, it never hurts to get some professional recommendations. Swennen sent along her own personal picks, below, adding that these retailer allow customers to pay over time using Affirm.