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The CF Guide to Layering Without Looking Lumpy

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Winter street style: layering
All photos courtesy of Elle

Even though it’s now mid-January, for many of us, winter is still in full swing. Whether you’re dealing with icy wind, slushy streets, or ceaseless snowfall, every CF girl knows that winter weather means adjusting our wardrobes.

Bundling up in style, however, can present a variety of challenges – from finding cute and cozy layers, to worst of all, looking lumpy and frumpy. If you’re in need of some guidance on how to layer without looking lumpy or just some extra winter inspiration, consider this your handbook! We’ll show you how to get a cute (and most importantly, warm) layering look for winter!

1. Wear your socks!

I’ll be the first to admit that I hate wearing socks. Hate it! Icy feet, unfortunately, instantly make the rest of you colder, making socks an absolute winter necessity.

Outside of warm boots, warm, insulating socks are the easiest way to lock in extra heat. For extra cold weather, look for tall socks – the more leg coverage, the better. Thigh-high styles were popular this fall and look adorable scrunched under boots, as do knee-high pairs. Finally, if you’re using your socks as an accessory, look for fun details or patterns for warmth AND style.

Hot Picks: Socks

How to get the layering look - socks
Product Information: Short Fair Isle Wool Socks, Toast. B.ella Vivenne Socks, Lori’s Shoes. Cable Knit Knee High Socks, Ruche. X-Ray Thigh High Socks, Nasty Gal. Ribbon Perlerine Knee Socks, Topshop. Argyle Socks, Asos. House of Holland For Pretty Polly Triple Chain Socks, Asos. Corgi Polka Dot Sock, Barneys New York.

2. Pile on the thin fabrics!

Cold-weather girls have long been known to layer tights and leggings under the skinniest of pants. (This can be an amazing strategy for surviving below-freezing wind chills!) Opt for dark footless tights or get even warmer with workout tights. Leggings or footless tights are the college girl version of long underwear!

Even though this extra layer is thin, it provides some extra cozy insulation. The same goes for your top: go for spandex tanks to wear under the rest of your wardrobe, the tighter the better. In order to create a streamlined, chic look, these base layers should fit like a second skin.

3. Make use of cute (and warm!) add-ons.

The ultimate winter staples are scarves, gloves, and hats. These pieces don’t add much bulk, but can keep you seriously warm while improving your winter style. Trapper hats have been especially trendy this season, as have slouchy beanies. Also, gloves that allow you to text without taking them off guarantee toasty fingers. Finally, cute scarves are a no-brainer – they’re warm AND super stylish! Like above-mentioned socks, these simple additions add warmth without any extra bulk. Again, look for color and pattern to add interest to your layers.

Hot Picks: Winter Accessories

Layering 101 - winter accessories
Product Information: Floral Bauble Scarf, American Eagle. Ochre Crochet Sparkle Snood, Dorothy Perkins. Floral Nautical Scarf, Miss Selfridge. Neutral Animal Print Scarf, Dorothy Perkins. Echo ‘Driver Touch’ Wool Blend Gloves, Nordstrom. Annika Glove, Alloy. KIT Gloves, ModCloth. Fantasy Fur Mittens, Asos. Pink Fur Trim Trapper Hat, e4Hats.com. Echo Color Play Beret, Nordstrom. Bright Nordic Beanie, Tilly’s. Guess Again Beanie, Burton.

4. Look for higher necklines and longer lengths.

While tank tops and tunics are great for warmer weather, they’re not exactly ideal for winter climates. Even the addition of a wrap or hoodie leaves delicate neck and chest skin exposed.

If you’re really trying to save space (under a fitted jacket, for example) and can’t afford the tank top-sweater-scarf combination, go for a top with a higher neckline. Trade the deep v-necks for crew necks and opt for a cute turtleneck or two. Those extra few inches will save you a layer! The same goes for investing in a collection of well-fitting long sleeved shirts.

Also, long jackets (think parkas and long pea coats) are ideal toppers for any outfit – just pay attention to fit. Well-fitting outerwear gives you shape and provides a polished finish to even the most casual of looks.

5. Belt it!

Belts of any size are the simplest way to instantly define your waist and give an outfit some shape. Try an oversized belt right under your bust to create a corseted look or a skinnier wrap style over a tank and long cardigan. If you’re wearing lots of layers, belts make a super cute silhouette and allow you to keep a feminine shape.

Hot Picks: Belts

Layering tips - belts
Product Information: Super Skinny Leather Belt, Banana Republic. Kimichi Blue Braided O-Ring Stretch Belt, Urban Outfitters. Vintage Embossed Belt, Gap. Leather Double Buckle Waist Belt, Asos. Blue Bow Skinny Belt, Dorothy Perkins. J.Crew Teenie Glitter Belt, Net-a-Porter. Casselini Ribbon Buckle Belt, I Don’t Like Mondays. Premium Tan Leather Five Buckle Corset Belt, Topshop.

Outfit Inspiration: Layering Without Looking Lumpy

Cold weather Outfit Inspiration
Product Information: Vannessa Bruno Sheer Cotton Top, The Outnet. Day By Day Double Breasted Coat, Ruche. Wearhouse Buckle Satchel, Asos. Argyle Socks, All Saints. Jersey Lounge Leggings, Old Navy. Dora Mixed Stich Cardigan, Delia’s. Knit Beret, Lori’s Shoes. Straight Jeans, American Eagle. Gotham City Starburst Cameo Crystal-Framed Ring, Tarina Tarantino. Black Magical Print Fill Scarf, Topshop. Steve Madden Troopa Boots, Piperlime.

Build your winter layering look from the inside out, one item at a time! Leggings worn under jeans (you might need to size up!), tall socks, and a tight tank are easy undercover ways to stay warm. A fun scarf  layered over a sweater does double duty by protecting your chest and locking in heat. Top off the look with a cute beret and ultra-chic coat and you’re good to go!

What are you thinking?

How do you stay warm in cold climates? What is your favorite warm winter trend? Do you have any tips of your own to share? Leave a comment and let us know!

Posted on on January 13, 2011 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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35 Responses to “The CF Guide to Layering Without Looking Lumpy”

  1. 1
    January 13th, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    I’m really over winter already, and I haven’t even gone back to New York to start the semester! Still, I really love your sample outfit, and you give great tips. Thanks!

  2. 2
    January 13th, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    i love winter accesories anyway, but this is the first time I’ve really needed them, going from FL to SC. I love all the outfit inspiration, thanks!

  3. 3
    January 13th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Oooh I love this!! So great for those of us living anywhere except for Florida right now haha
    During the winter I find that tights are nowhere near warm enough and wearing more than one pair sometimes stretches them out too much! Instead, I’ll wear leggings and cut off the ‘sock’ part of an old pair of tights- so I’m kept warm but unless you’re staring at my ankles, you can’t tell the difference!

  4. 4
    January 13th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Great article!! I know it’s freezing here in my hometown so I will definitely be using these tips! :)

  5. 5
    January 13th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    somehow I can never get warm enough by layering thin clothes…urgh!

  6. 6
    January 13th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    gr8 post thanks. probably the most useful post so far for winter this year =)

  7. 7
    January 13th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Great tips! Most leggings aren’t warm enough for me, but I have a thick pair from H&M that I really like: they are high waist, cotton cable stitch, with a wide piece of elastic on top that stays flat and smooth under jeans. I recommend high-waist leggings if you tend to get cold around your midsection. I don’t know how girls get leggings under tight skinny jeans. I usually need a roomier jean, like straight leg or flare styles for layering.

  8. 8
    January 13th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Just a warning to everyone, I bought and returned the sweater from Delia’s in the last section because it looked lumpy. Not a good buy, even though it looks cute in the picture

  9. 9
    January 13th, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    i LOVE the three pics at the top!! LOL

  10. 10
    January 13th, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Just had to mention: this is the only blog I’ve ever read that is actually realistic for my life. Ever. I have become a devout follower since finding this site, and I just love what you guys are doing! This and every article works for a lot of people.

  11. 11
    January 13th, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    I will totally use these tips for fall/spring. It’s like -11 here, so it’s a bit too cold to wear thin layers, but it’s so cute!

  12. 12
    January 13th, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    This is essentially my life right now. Very cute clothes and very practical article.

  13. 13
    January 13th, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Question about winter acessories: is it more fashionable 2 wear matching set (hat gloves and scarf) or 2 mix n match?

  14. 14
    January 14th, 2011 at 1:15 am

    I adore the middle outfit at the top! does anyone know where those boots are from?

  15. 15
    January 14th, 2011 at 2:40 am

    I find that wearing blazers under jackets keeps me SUPER insulated/warm! And it’s a dressier alternative to hoodies or more loungey, cable-knit sweaters, and much warmer than some thinner cardigans.

  16. 16
    January 14th, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Great, great post! Belting up all my outfits is basically what I do every single day from November to February: it makes big chunky sweaters look cute and long cozy cardigans look feminine. I love winter accessories so I have a collection of big circle scarfs in bold colors that really keeps me warm when it’s freezing and are perfect to light up my outfits when I’m wearing dark combos. The only problem that I have to face every winter when it comes to layering is about tops: I somehow always struggle to find long-sleeved shirts that are flattering on my body and I totally hate turtlenecks, so I always to try to find very warm sweaters and cardigans to put on tank tops or T-shirts.

  17. 17
    January 14th, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    I am a trapper hat addict…they’re easy to throw on and REALLY warm! I’ve been trying to escape the typical shapeless Northwest jacket-over-cardi-over-long sleeve-over-tank silhouette, and belting it seems like the perfect solution. Thanks for the ideas!!

  18. 18
    January 30th, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Please send me e- newsletters
    thanks!

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