Layering Tips

When I moved back to my hometown in East Tennessee from the New Orleans area, I learned to layer for winter weather again. Starting with thin body-hugging layers keeps me warm, but it also avoids adding lots of bulk. Natural fabrics make all the difference in comfort. Synthetic fibers do not allow moisture to escape so that you may feel cold and clammy in layers of polyester.

On Tuesday, I dressed for running lots of errands in our cold and rainy weather. My first layer is often a slim-fitting long sleeve top and a pair of jeans with either short crew socks or black opaque tights in cold weather. When the weather is frigid, I start with silk thermals here. My wardrobe includes mostly neutral colors such as navy, gray, black or white, so I finish the look with color and pattern in a scarf or some other accessories.

You would never see me wearing a thin T-shirt like this without my Ultimate Shapeez bra underneath. (Use the code FIRSTTIMEBUYER10 for a $10 off discount entered at checkout.) The top is several years old from Chico’s. My jeans are old from Express. My boots are also old.

Accessories are always my favorite part of getting dressed.

My handbag is several years old. The Linda Richards trench coat is from last year.

I mention that I will share a photo of the pear-shaped body in jeans in the video below. The image above is from the blog here.

  1. Good morning Susan! I see we are both early risers. I want to thank you for your advice, but especially for your non-judgmental way of helping women of all shapes and sizes look their best. I am a healthy size 12 – 14 who weight lifts 5 days a week– I will never have slim hips. The advice for those of us with hour-glass figures has been so helpful. I do love your cardigan but thanks to you, I invested in several short, classic sweaters. Once I gave up on longer tunic styles, I look 10 pounds lighter.
    Please continue your advice for how to look our best in real situations. It has encouraged me to look my best even if during my volunteer and daily activities. And we are having rain, rain, and more rain here, too!

  2. Your tips are so helpful and I appreciate your dedication. I am able, as a pear shape, to apply many of your tips. Long cardigans literally fold up on my hips which adds volume where I don’t need it. However, a shorter cardigan is the solution. So I am applying everything I have learned from you. Recently, I tried on a wrap dress and realized it would be perfect for some apple shapes but not this pear. Then, I tried on midi skirts and realized the volume problem. When I added a top to the midi I had a proportion problem. Boots and a short cardigan with a midi skirt worked for me. I just want to thank you for helping us see things differently. More importantly, we understand WHY something works or doesn’t. Prior to reading your blog, I blamed my weight and shape. You helped me change my entire outlook. It’s fun and challenging for me to now create a pear version of your fabulous style!

  3. Susan, I am my for new thermals as I loved my old Cuddle-duds that they no longer make.(mine are 35 years old!). I immediately went to Land’s End site. I believe you may have posted a different thermal as these said wool and I cannot wear wool. I did search site for silk thermals and found them!
    Thank you for your dedication to all of us on your blog. Always so sweet and sincere. Your true beauty always shows through to me.

  4. You mention that pear-shaped women should always emphasize their waist. This is a shift in mindset from, “How can I hide my hips?”

    What if we all ask, “How does this outfit accentuate my best feature?” This guiding principle will lead us to better choices and fewer mistakes. It’s a subtle shift in persective, but a very important one.

  5. I’ve been fearful of ruining my silk scarves by wearing on a rainy day. Please expound on taking care of them. On these chilly, rainy days, a scarf is so much warmer than a necklace.

  6. Thank you Susan for reminding us of layering techniques. Cold is cold, no matter in the South or North and as I age I lose warmth in my extremities. I have a pair of Isotoner gloves in every jacket! Thin layers to insulate are a good way to trap heat. I need to shop for thin silk thermals. Thank you for your lovely blog!

  7. Hi Susan, this is really a very interesting post. Our weather in the south of France in Autumn CAN vary between 5-20 degrees celsior, so layering is the only solution. Thanks very much for the tips.

  8. Once again, what you’ve written is so helpful. I love that the clothes that you feature aren’t always brand new, and I really appreciate that you always identify what you’re wearing, even when it’s a couple of years old, or you mention where a similar item can be purchased. Not all bloggers do this! I really appreciate it, because a number of times when I’ve really liked something that you’ve featured, I’ve been able to find the same item, used, thanks to your identifying it. So thank you, Susan, for helping so many of us to look our best without breaking our budgets.

  9. I would not be without my silk long johns from Lands End or Eddie Bauer. My father worked in Manhattan in the 70s, he wore them under his business suits and he bought me my first pair.

    What I love, in addition to not being bulky, is they are not noticeable indoors but really insulate when it is cold. Highly recommend them. They last forever if hand washed and hung to dry. Do not put them in the dryer!

    I appreciate all your good advice and I use many of your tips.

  10. Susan,

    I love your blog as do so many others, and have made purchases in your shop. Love, love your long crepe tank dress in navy! A favorite versatile piece.

    I heard your enthusiasm in your video for your new long heather cardigan, stating, ” I finally found one I like.” Could you please explain your preferences for this particular one say over, the Everlane one you were wearing in another recent blog post? What were the details that you were looking for? Besides quality, was it the length, the sleeve length, the collar,( or lack thereof) lack of pockets etc? And while asking questions, I am only 5′ 1″ and have an excellent tailor. I assume she could shorten the length? And if so, for someone petite, would you suggest a cardigan ending several inches above the knee?

    I am trying to keep my closet contained with quality, classic, neutral pieces that can be worn for many years…

    1. I still love my Everlane sweaters, but they are not cardigans. I am happy with this new style of cardigan for several reasons. 1. It has no pockets. 2. It is very lightweight 100% cashmere. 3. It has no collar but it is designed not to gap open, and it rests high on the sides of the neck. 4. The length is a little longer than I like, but still above my knees. Fingertip length will be a better proportion if you are petite.

  11. Susan, I shared your blog with a friend of mine who has moved from south FL to Johnson City (moved in July). She has lived in south FL for 52 years so she had NO cold weather wear. I quoted you (Ask yourself if this is going to be in style 10 years from now and purchase quality)….and told her she needed layers. I’m so glad you have this advice on here today! Exactly what I told her and you look fabulous! Classic!!! Thanks for all your great posts…..

  12. Your posts often reflect my philosophy of life.When I read “Focus on the Best”, I wondered if you read the same books as I did and sure enough there was a quote from Louise Hay at the end of this post. You sometimes share ideas I’ve heard before, but your way of saying them is new, refreshing and profound. Thank you for sharing that part of you.

  13. I really enjoy your blog and have picked up some great tips. The one thing I notice though, is that when you link to a site where you have purchased an item, the item is usually only available in XS or S. It might be a great idea, but does not work for us size 12 folks.

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.