Layering 201: Much More Everything

Last week we ran through layering 101 – basically, proportions and textures.  This week we’re being more inventive and layering an outfit on top of another outfit.

 That’s right!  We’re going to be just like that Barbie I had in the late 80s that had a ball gown on top of her cocktail dress.  She was the original influencer and her power is so great that I’m still being #influenced by her 30 years later.


As with last week, we start with an outfit with relatively sleek lines.  I’ve layered this silk shirt under a denim dress I bought yeeears ago (sorry).  The shirt is key, as we will come to see shortly.  I’m also a big fan of these boots.  This warm terracotta/cognac/tobacco colour palette has become really popular in recent years, and it works as a great neutral if you feel like getting away from black, grey and white.


So far, so casual – I’m sure you all know how to layer a shirt under a dress and then put on some ankle boots.  Let’s add the ball gown!


Okay, so while Barbie rocked a black and hot pink ball gown made primary out of nylon, I’ve chosen this skirt that I think we all know belonged to someone’s Nana.  Honestly, I don’t know where elderly women get these skirts from but they end up in op shops in bulk, every year.   I chose this one from my stash (who’s banned from buying any more checked woollen skirts?  That’s right! This lady!) because it helps me satisfy one of the two cheaty ways to print mix when layering: it contains similar tones to the other pattern in this outfit (the shirt).  The navy of the denim dress is mirrored in the check as well, and that all lets you play with the patterned skirt while still creating some coherence in the overall outfit.

I also grabbed a belt, to better defined the waistline here.  That makes the dress push back in relative importance in the outfit, by creating a hard visual line between the “top” and the skirt.  The belt also picks up the colour in the shirt, again bringing the thread of colour through the outfit to give you consistency.  What I will say about this layered look is that you should not do high kicks in it – you can see where the dress has ridden up while I fecked about and because the fabric is rigid, the dress has just stayed exactly where it rode to.


And finally, one more cheaty way to print mix when layering is to use similar prints, in different colour ways.  This check coat is from Lonely Label (again, a few years ago), and I love wearing it over my army of checked skirts because it is so obviously intentional and therefore, A Look. 

It also works here because its cooler tone balances with the blue of the denim dress/top.  You can see here why the shirt’s collar is important – without that, and with the coat on, you’d have much more of a split through your middle between those warmer tones and then the cooler/denim elements.   Again – I really wish I’d smoothed out that dress after those high kicks. 

Finally, I grabbed my vintage Escada earrings to wear with this look because I loved how the gold tone picked out the yellow in the skirt.  Long time blog readers will know that one great way to wear a print is to pair it back with something in the colour that appears the least in the print.  I also like to think that 1989 Barbie would have loved these earrings and coveted them, saving up her salary from whatever career she was doing by that time so she could buy a pair from her local boutique.


Print mixing really is simple, I promise – just find similar tones, or mix similar prints (in similar sizes).  The best way is to just experiment in your wardrobe on a rainy afternoon.  Since August is the month where our inspiration and creativity starts flooding back, I hope you guys will give it a nudge because remember:  our motto in fashion is “I do what I want”.


P.S. does Barbie have a blog?  I would read the heck out of that.   

Photography for this post by Nia Turley Photography