How to Layer Clothes For Winter, According to Fashion Professionals

Experiment with different textures, fabrics, weights, patterns, and colors — the layering possibilities are endless.

Model smiling in trench coat over winter Layers

Louisa Wells

Up until recently, my knowledge of how to layer clothes in such a way that was both functional and fashionable was limited. As far as I was concerned, piling on various knit and fleece-lined items was a means of survival in frigid weather conditions, not a fashion statement. So imagine my surprise when it finally dawned on me that I could be warm and look cute, too.

Winter forecasts can be near impossible to predict. One day it's freezing with snow on the ground, and the next, it's unseasonably warm and I'm burning up in a sweater. Instead of dressing for one extreme or another, the chief design officer at Aerie, Andrea Jagaric, says layering clothes can help keep you prepared for anything and everything.

"The chillier months naturally give us more options to play with when it comes to choosing what to wear for the day," Jagaric tells InStyle, before giving advice on the pieces to stock up on. "Look for options that are versatile and give you the option to mix and match for multiple different looks." For example, combining activewear with classic staples such as an oversized button-down or sherpa vest.

Layering also gives you the opportunity to play around with the pieces that are already in your wardrobe. Give yourself permission to experiment with different textures, fabrics, weights, patterns, and colors, and the outfit possibilities are endless.

And y don't have to be too concerned with going overboard — there are ways to layer clothes without looking bulky. Ahead, you'll find the best tips for layering clothes, complete with helpful advice from fashion professionals.

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Add a Vest

Model with a vest over long sleeve layers and jeans

Louisa Wells

According to Express' executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, Malissa Akay, a vest "allows you to have fun with statement sleeves and different collars." There is a variety of options to choose from, whether you go with something knitted, such as a sweater vest, or one that feels athleisure, like a puffer. Either way, you can use this piece to add a pop of color or amp up basic staples.

"To add a bit of excitement to your look, we recommend pairing a vest with a balloon sleeve top or lightweight blouse that complements the specific style of the vest," says Akay.

02 of 03

Slip On a Blazer

Model with hoodie layered under fitted blazer and loose-fitting slacks

Louisa Wells

On especially chilly days, you might feel inclined to skip stiff jeans and form-fitting tops for looser alternatives, such as baggy trousers or even sweats. That's ok — you can quickly spruce up your loungewear by tossing on a tailored blazer.

"By adding a blazer to your comfortable joggers and essential tee look, your outfit can be instantly transformed from loungewear to a polished and timeless classic," Akay says. The same tip applies to layering a blazer over a hoodie — not only will it look sleek and fashion-forward, but it's also a super warm outfit idea.

03 of 03

Try a Long Layer

Model with a long trench coat over a dress

Louisa Wells

There are plenty of ways to wear a dress in during the winter months — adding tights, long boots, and slipping a turtleneck on underneath remain some of our favorite styling solutions. However, the duster coat has returned, and the trend is another way to pull together an outfit while also shielding your body from the cold.

Alternatively, you could try something shorter, such as a bomber, which Jagaric recommends. She adds that you can easily wear the piece underneath your bulky winter coat or trench, which will add flair and versatility.

"This layering look not only brings dimension to your outfit but gives you the flexibility to take off your larger jacket needed for extra warmth and show off a more trend-driven piece underneath."

Photographer: Louisa Wells, assisted by Ariana Rodriguez. Styling: Amanda Lauro. Hair: Madison Sullivan. Makeup: Hiro Yonemoto. Fashion Direction: Samantha Sutton. Retouching: Kevin Lee. Production: Kelly Chiello.

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