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How to make elegant layering look effortless

Alyson Walsh / 20 December 2018

Fashion guru Alyson Walsh on how to layer up, not bundle up.

A knitted cardigan and ankle boots

The aim of layering is to look effortless and elegant but outfits do need to be properly thought out. Here’s how to do brilliant not bundled up layering – in three easy steps

Keep the silhouette simple

Starting with a clean, uncluttered canvas is the easiest way to create an elegant look. Get the base layer right and then you can play around with what goes on top. Try teaming a long-sleeved T-shirt or jersey polo neck with slim leg trousers or leggings – Winser London’s leggings are more like Capri pants and this is reflected in the price but the Italian fabric is substantial and designed to last. Because; no one wants skimpy footless tights…

Next add a long-line tunic or sleeveless gilet; alternatively, a knitted cardigan - or coatigan - worn over a dress and leather knee boots makes a chic, trouser-free option. And putting together an outfit that has the Michelle Obama magic is never a bad thing.

Don’t shy away from colour

Though a neutral backdrop makes a good starting point, this doesn’t have to mean a sea of dreary greige. Black and white is a perennially striking combination and looks wonderful with a flash of neon or a bold primary colour, while navy, burgundy and khaki are excellent year-round building blocks.

Adding a contrasting colour  - for instance: navy and burnt orange, khaki and red, burgundy and teal  - is a simple way to perk things up. Patterns and prints provide another boost, so introduce a stripy t-shirt or wide-leg checked trousers for extra zing.

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Wear a big coat

Sometimes in winter, I prefer to go for the ‘big coat and fine layers’ option (no one ever said this was CERN engineering). You may already have a vintage faux fur coat or a much-loved sheepskin, if not, supersized quilted jackets and textured overcoats are trending right now.

Unlike the Balenciaga autumn 2018 catwalk where a seven-layered coat made the headlines, layering one piece of outerwear over a cashmere roll-neck sweater and t-shirt  - or Uniqlo Heat Tech depending on the whereabouts of the Beast From The East - is an elegant way to wrap up warm.

Layering is just putting one thing on top of the other, after all.

The best accessories to wear with elegant layers

Finding the right shoes is important

Black ankle boots are good for weather-proofing and perfect with stretch black jeans or leggings under a statement coat; look for a low-heeled Chelsea boot or Cowboy-style ankle boot. For run-around chic, make like Emma Thompson in a pair of classic white trainers. And remember that the brogue is always in vogue.

Elegant ankle boots

The bling thing

With long-line layers it’s neat to echo that length by wearing a string of beads or Chatelaine-style necklace. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with a pair of dangly, statement earrings, my favourite way to add everyday glamour to a simple look.

Take the belt and neckerchief approach

Jazzy, waist-cinching belts are an effective way to pull layers together - try Next (from £12), Boden (from £25), and H&M (from £6.99).  While a beautiful silky neckerchief is an excellent way to keep the neck warm-but-not-too-warm. Accessorize has a fine selection (from £15).

 Alyson Walsh is the author of Know Your Style, she blogs as That’s Not My Age


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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