Layering Tips

My favorite thing about cooler weather is that I can wear layers again. An instant way to elevate your look is to add a third piece. There are a few tricks I employ to make sure these combos are flattering.

Always layer a short jacket with a long tank or any top that extends to mid-hip. A boxy longer or oversized blazer requires a fitted shorter tank or long sleeve fitted top and slimline pants. Give at least the suggestion of a waistline by showing part of it or by wearing staggered layers or a jacket with a nipped-in waistline.

Flowy oversized or stiff pieces are very tricky to wear together since excess fabric equals excess girth. The jacket and top should not end at the same level. The best blazer length for most of us is at mid-hip. With your arms fully extended, you should be able to close your hand around the hemline.

The cropped faux suede jacket layered over a longer top, suggests I have a more slender waistline than I do. A note about sizing: I bought this jacket last year. Now I should be wearing a size small.

When layering pieces in very similar colors, vary the textures. I’ve included various shades of gray and black to give my look more dimension and polish. When I wear slim-fitting pants, I always wear pantyhose or opaque tights instead of kneehighs or socks. The band around the top would make a dent that shows through the pant leg.

Guidelines are not forever rules. Styles and our bodies change, so I strive to remain flexible in my thinking and willing to try new things. Tips and guidelines help us put together flattering looks that are comfortable and appropriate to wear for any occasion and on any budget. I share what I’ve learned in hopes that it helps you decipher what might work best for you.

I have an inverted triangle shaped body with a thick waistline and short thick legs (calves) from the knee to the ankle. I don’t let those facts get in my creative way. Focus on the positives and downplay the negatives. That’s the big secret of every stylish woman.


  1. I have really enjoyed and appreciated the recent content – very helpful. But if you don’t show some Mr. Mickey and restaurant stuff pretty soon I’m going to start worrying.

  2. Last year I donated the cutest floral denim jacket because I felt it was too short waisted for me…not realizing I just needed a longer top! I loved that little jacket! I hope it has a good new home!
    Thanks for your layering tips Susan! I’m still getting used to these shorter jackets!

  3. You always look so smart and put together! I am a petite 5’1” and was wondering if you have any recommendations in petite sizing. I would like to order the top you are wearing but I’m afraid the proportions would be off. Thank you!

  4. Susan, with your weight loss, have you altered your pants and tops? I see you mention the jacket should be a size small. I am losing weight, do you altered or buy new or a bit of both? Just curious. Have a lovely week. Diane

    1. I’ve managed to make some things continue to work for me, but I have purchased a few new items in smaller sizes. I’ve also let several things go that are just too big for me now.

  5. Hi Susan, I am med-small boned with narrow shoulders and large bust. How do I get the size I need for my chest without the rest of the jacket being too big. I don’t want to be negative but my large bust creates lots of fashion/fit issues. Thanks.

    1. I understand completely. A large bust can make us look more substantial than we are or as if we are wearing a tent. Look for tops and jackets that are more fitted or that have darts. Since you have narrow shoulders, you can wear clothing that has small shoulder pads or embellishment well above the bust to balance to two areas. Be careful of wide lapels.

  6. This is a very stylish looking outfit for cooler weather. Really love the look! Do you feel that short over long is a classic style at tbis point, Susan?? I have a few shorter jackets and like them, but have passed on some I really liked because knew tbey were too short w/o long tank under should that look fade away.
    Thanks for educating us!!!

  7. What I love most about your posts is your joyous attitude. We all have figure challenges . How kind Of you to be open about yours and show that it is possible to be a beautiful though imperfect woman! You truly inspire!

  8. With your new weight loss, can you tell us what and how much you eat? Is it still two meals a day? You look great. I’m finding it harder to lose weight the older I get!

    1. About 90% of the time my meals are as follows: Breakfast includes fresh berries, nuts, a small amount of granola, and full-fat Greek yogurt. For a late lunch or early dinner, I have a variety of cruciferous vegetables, avocado, grilled fish, or chicken breast, and I often have a small piece of dark chocolate. Occasionally I have pasta, cheese, dessert, or a glass of wine. I try to eat two small meals early in the day and then give my digestive system about sixteen hours of rest. Throughout my life, this routine has allowed me to have my healthiest body and weight. Fat-free isn’t for me. My body needs good fats including avocado, fish (trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring), grass feed cheese, nuts, olive oil, dark chocolate, and eggs.

      1. Susan – you look beautiful in these pics. Just wanted to comment that I personally eat very similar to you, have done for so years and have pretty much maintained my wt. (5’3.5″ and 107 lbs). However being retired I was finding more physical activity required me to eat a light dinner around 5:30/6:00 or I wake up due to apparent low blood sugar. Have you noticed this problem given 16 hr ‘fast’.

  9. I was just at the Biltmore Estate & went to the Grove Park Inn last week. I was hoping to see you there! Thank you for recommending the beautiful Grove Park Inn!!

  10. This is such a classy look, Susan; such great choices in the different textures and shades in your outfit pieces! I’ve wondered if you’ve had a recent haircut or are just styling your hair differently. I’d like to copy your cut, Hope my hairdresser can “translate” from your photo!

  11. My favorite is Organic Extreme Dark Chocolate here. The top row has four little pieces across. That’s enough for me. I enjoy the taste of dark chocolate, but I don’t need a lot of it.

  12. I appreciate how you talked about your “lesser liked” body shape/parts and how you work to camouflage them. We all have those parts and this tip on how to “minimize them” while accentuating the most attractive parts has helped me to think about my body differently.

    Now to find a way to minimize a larger bust, with wide shoulders and no waist on a size 14 body? I have figured out that dark colors minimize and tone on tone helps too. I have also figured out that skinny jeans are best for my shaply legs.

    Now to work on the bust, no waist and my short neck issues!!

    Thank you!

  13. Hi Susan,
    You have inspired me to take a closer look at the necklines on my clothes. Also, I wore a pair of nice shoes instead of the Skechers I usually wear. The shoes really do make a difference. I have also ordered a pair of black booties. I like your look today but my belly is the biggest part of me – would this look draw attention to an area I would rather not? I am the same height as you. I don’t know whether I have short legs or not. How do you determine that?

      1. Thanks for the article about proportion. It turns out I have a short torso and long legs with the longest part from the knee down. Will keep that i mind.

  14. Thank you so much, Susan, for doing an article on this. Still working on grasping this concept with what is in my closet. I don’t think I have the right tops to go under the jackets. Tried one of the Covered Perfectly silky vneck base layer tops I ordered, and they looked funny with a jean jacket. Seemed like it was too much fabric. Ended up yesterday going with a shorter tee than the jacket, and it worked. I too am 5′ 3.5″ and 107 lbs. Maybe it’s the petite thing going on. I don’t know. Still playing with it. But your guidelines are steering me in different directions, and that’s a good thing! Thank you.

  15. Love the tips. I only found your blog this year and have enjoyed your tips and following your trips.
    You mentioned in a previous blog you are in contact with other bloggers and professionals (Dieticians, etc.) and I was wondering if you could suggest a blogger who likes the classic look as you do, but is heavier (size 12/14).and closer to the 70’s in age as I am in my mid 70’s. I am also the opposite of you as I have a warm skin tone. You have introduced me to new designers I had not heard of before and I appreciate your input. However, since you have lost so much weight, I no longer can relate to you and would appreciate someone that is closer in size to me. You can wear just about anything now, which definitely leaves me out.
    Take care and keep advising the younger set as you do give good advice.
    Clara B

    1. I’m sorry you feel that way, Clara. I believe that my classic style can appeal to anyone of any age and at any size. Just look for similar items that fit you and your coloring.

  16. I have never seen cuff guards before ,what a good idea. Can you please demonstrate how you would wear them and where we could purchase them?

    1. They are sleeve garters and you can find them on Amazon. Place them below your elbow over your jacket, sweater, or blouse sleeve and pull the whole thing up to where you want the sleeve to end. Arrange the sleeve loosely over the garters.

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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.