On a frigid Sunday afternoon with ice-snow hurtling down from a grey sky, I held a little layering practice session in my bedroom. Fun, right? Normally I can get dressed in a flash, but for church that morning I had hemmed and hawed over how to achieve warmth without bulk. With a bit of time on my hands, I scoured my Pinterest board for winter outfits that I could replicate using only pieces I already had in my closet. Then I took pictures of each combination. This post will serve as part 1 in my layering attempts – focusing on dresses.
As the pile of clothes gradually grew on top of my bed, I think I found a few new combos that are both my style and warm enough for winter temps. In the past few years, I haven’t been able to wear dresses much because of nursing. So this is one way I’m excited to mix up my outfits without spending any money. If all goes well, maybe you’ll get an idea or two to help break up the monotony of cold weather layering.
Outfit 1 (inspiration). I layered a thin cotton striped long sleeve tee under a denim dress like the photo, then added grey tights and oxford shoes for some extra warmth, like this pin. It wouldn’t be great in the dead of winter, but it definitely helps transition the dress from the fall. I added a silver locket to tie in with the grey tights. This is definitely a new favorite.
Outfit 2. For warmth, I tried adding a cardigan. This is such a bad look, much too bulky and boxy. I think this is what I run into on Sunday mornings (or back in the days when I was dressing for work), that makes getting dressed take five times as long. So, it’s good to know this style of long cardigan looks better with long skinny jeans.
Outfit 3. On a whim, I switched the cardigan to this shrunken schoolboy blazer. I rarely wear this blazer, but I keep hanging onto it, because it was one of my favorite purchases. The nipped-in waist looks a lot better with the dress and I could definitely see wearing this to church once I’m not carrying a baby or to teach (someday). The blazer is one of my exceptions to donating the clothes I don’t wear, because it can instantly change an outfit – even just jeans and a t-shirt. It would be hard to replace someday when I need more professional looks.
Madewell blazer (similar)
Outfit 4 (inspiration). This is my little black dress. It is silk, so it works every season except summer, and I love the floating a-line shape with bracelet sleeves. To mix it up, I layered one of my most used Everlane purchases – the white silk sleeveless shirt – underneath. I have gotten hooked on putting this shirt under sweaters, because silk is insulating without making your clothes bunch up. I’ve wanted to try it under this dress for awhile, because it’s certainly a French girl look with black tights and loafers. I totally love it.
Outfit 5 (inspiration). I wasn’t sure if this would work, but I layered a crewneck sweater over the black dress with the white silk shirt still underneath. Because of the floaty silk, it actually worked a lot better than I imagined. Cashmere and silk are both very warm, natural fibers, so the layers are warm without bulk. I like the way this could work for teaching, but I don’t have a lot of places I would wear it in this season of life.
Everlane cashmere crew
Outfit 6 (inspiration). To make the dress more casual, I tried it over jeans with a little rolled cuff and loafers. I had a major flashback to one of the bloggers I first got hooked on – Joslyn Taylor of Simple Lovely. She used to take outfit photos in her cool Dallas home, and her uniform was a dress layered over jeans. I even added a handmade clay necklace like she would wear. And having tried it all on, I get it. I really like this outfit.
Outfit 7. For Indiana weather, I added a grey scarf and taupe ankle boots over outfit 6. I still think it works. Scarves aren’t always my favorite, because I feel like I need to fuss with them, but this one is super warm and cozy. I wish I had also tried that tan cardigan from outfit 2 over this look.
Outfit 8 (inspiration). I think I really like this one. The dress underneath is pure summer – sleeveless, patterned. But with all black and a turtleneck sweater, it became winterized. This is a huge win, because I was about to pack this one into my underbed boxes until next May.
Outfit 9 (inspiration). This is the outfit I wore to church on Sunday morning after hunting through my closet. I started with a grey short sleeve dress and grey tights. Then I picked these grey ankle boots, although I tried brown ones first. They looked a tad too clunky and made my legs look even shorter. Finally, I layered on a navy cashmere sweater and left it at that. I don’t think it’s amazing, but it was comfortable, feminine, and warm.
Outfit 10. And to keep it real, this is what every outfit looks like in the winter – a coat and scarf, hat and gloves. It hasn’t even gotten super cold here yet, but these are already essentials no matter what is underneath. For years I’ve avoided the puffer coat, but last year I broke down and found one on ThredUP for a fraction of the price. I have to say puffers are SO warm and awesome.
After looking back through the photos, I think the best outfits are 1, 4, 6, and 8.
Next up…layering with pants as a base.