There are so many things I love about living in New York City! Having four distinct seasons has to be near the top of that list; as a fashionista, it lends me plenty of opportunities to add to my closet to suit the weather!
Spring in New York City is a mix of cool days, unbearably humid days, warm and pleasant days, and downright rainy and cold days. What does this all mean? Layering! Layering is on my simple pleasures in life. I love taking a look at the weather and figuring out what kind of outfit to put together to suit my myriad of needs, from surviving the various temperature ranges on my walk/bike/subway to work to the office (where it seems either the heat or A/C must be cranked at all times) to not melting during my lunch break or walk home, when it is often quite warm and sunny.
My outfit above, via my Instagram, is a perfect example of typical Spring layering for me. I follow very simple color and layering formulas for my outfits — in this case, green + gold + white in a lighter and heavier layer for a warm Spring day. The look starts with a feminine dress and classic jewelry, then layers over it with a modern military jacket (mixing hard and soft elements), and rounds the look out with trendy preppy accessories in the shoes and clutch. A jacket that is slightly shorter in length than the dress is an incredibly flattering cut that makes my legs look even longer, and has a slimming effect overall.
In this post I will be discussing my formulas for layering, how to pick colors that go together and when an outfit becomes too much. By the end hopefully you will feel like a layering genius! Additionally, wherever possible I have re-used pieces from outfit to outfit to show that it’s not about how much you own, it’s about how you style it!
When deciding what colors to use in an outfit, I typically look to nature. Sunsets, beaches, ocean vistas, mountain ranges, flowers, rock formations, birds, fruits and animals are all some points of reference to look at to figure out what colors go together. I have created a Pinterest board filled with color combinations to help us out, and if you are just starting to learn the color wheel’s complementary colors this Pin in particular should help you.
The outfit above for example was influenced a stem of blueberries, which of course contain the warm blue in the tank top stripes but also white (mixed in with the blue of the berries), green in the steam leaves, hints of yellow (the sunglasses here) in and brown in the stem itself and the Earth. And like the first outfit in this post, it has a preppy vibe to it, now mixing in boho elements via the bag. This look has a lot of ‘hard’ elements to it (things like structure, masculine colors, boxy shapes and sneakers tend to feel harder while things like lace, pinks, heels or feminine flats and draped fabric read as softer), which is softened some by wearing heels.
When looking at my combinations, don’t get caught up in things like heels vs flats or tank top versus tee shirt. There is plenty of room to play around with what is most comfortable for you! In my case, I went with slightly cropped jeans paired with heels for this outfit above because this streamlines my thicker legs, but flats would also be perfectly fine. I kept the colors of the shoes and bag the same because it allows the jacket and tank top to be more attention-grabbing, drawing the eye upwards.
In terms of proportions, because the tank top is shorter and the pants are cropped, the longer anorak balances everything out nicely. In that same thought process, a larger bag can be overpowering in a wild color so I chose a soft, peaceful brown to minimize attention on it. Only when up close can you see its beautifully medallion details! (I’m also lusting after the grey version of the bag.)
For this outfit, I’ve taken the same cropped pants from the look above this one and swapped the proportions on top — now, instead of a long jacket and short underlayer, I have a long tank top with a shorter cropped jacket. This is ideal for me on warm-to-hot days when my jacket may not be on very long. I like longer layers in general because of my curves; short layers often lead to subconscious tugging to ensure everything is hitting me at the appropriate point on my body. Having a top and jacket of the same length is ideal when you have a structured bottom on, like a pair of crisp work pants. For more casual looks or looks where I want to define my waist, varying lengths is a great way to do this.
The colors in this outfit are like a Spring sunset, with brilliant white, sparkly golds, deep purples and light purples, shiny pinks and softer pinks. The top and jacket have a larger oversized feel to them while the pants skim my body, achieving the feel of a blooming flower when this look is on me.
If this top has too much going on for you, you could easily swap in a lavender, deep purple, pink (any shade), or white top instead.
Is there anything better than a versatile dress? I usually lean towards fit and flare styles, or ruched knit body-skimming frocks like the one in this outfit. Hitting me just above the knees, the dress shows off my tiny waist and can easily be the sole layer on a sunny day. I often wear a slip under this dress because it is — sigh — unlined.
Inspired by the beautiful cherry blossoms all over Manhattan and Brooklyn in April and early May, the pinks of this outfit are light and bright and mixed with medium, subtle shades of green, gold and brown. This jacket ends right above my waist but has a pleated back, making it airy and oversized (I sized down to a small in it). The length is more important here than the sizing; I wanted my waist to be visible so I don’t look like a total rectangle.
Flats make this look all day comfortable, but this look could easily be equally perfect with heels, sandals or booties. This look falls squarely in my preppy chic vibe, to make it more boho you could add a scarf tied around your hair; or for a more trendy look a big pair of round sunglasses would do the trick.
Do you own a denim jacket? This may end up as its own post soon because I believe everyone needs a good denim jacket in their closet! It’s necessary for layering success. I typically like my denim jackets to hit right at my waist or just above, as this one does. Even on the flat lay (which is what this type of image is called) you can see how the jacket is the perfect length to define the waist! The soft knit of the dress and the structured rivets and details of the jackets play well with each other.
A chunky necklace draws attention up towards my face, and I often wear my hair up with this particular outfit to further frame my face. The colors of this look are inspired by the ocean — it makes me think of a sea turtle cruising the shallows of the beautiful beaches I’ve seen in Hawaii and Costa Rica. Like a beach, notice the mix of ‘smooth’ materials like the soft knit of the dress and sleek satin flats, combined with the texture of the mixed-link necklace, splatter clutch and highly-detailed jacket.
Now we come to jeans, which feel like an everyday thing for me! Ok I don’t quite wear jeans that much but at least 4 times a week until the Summer. I am a huge fan of distressed jeans but they aren’t necessary to the success of this look (and the look below this one features a pair of regular jeans, no distressing if you’d like inspiration).
The color combination here is a forest on a cloudy day, featuring the harder elements of the camo jacket (I adore this one shown in particular for its use of feminine colors in the camo like plum!) and distressed jeans mixed with softness in the huge (and very lightweight) earrings, the lace-detailed tee, a beautifully detailed bag and comfy heels.
Closing out this post is one more styling secret for layering — a long cardigan is your best friend! I like one that’s thick and chunky, and one lightweight cardigan like the one shown above. This cardigan comes down below my bottom, catching the air when I walk through breezes and streamlining the entire look into one long, lean silhouette. It blocks chilly wind too. You could easily layer the anorak in the top two looks of this post over this on especially cold days.
The color theme here is nautical, with beachy browns and ocean-hued blues. A simple combo like this one can be spiced up, perhaps by swapping in a bright pink or green necklace? Remember to use the Pinterest board I created for color combination inspiration.
What are your favorite Spring layering outfit combinations? What color combos are always good for you? Be sure to follow me on Instagram for daily outfit inspiration. Below is a boutique of all the items shown in this post.