how to add texture and depth to your wardrobe

Hello friends,

I’ve got one word for you: LAYERS

When I first started expressing an interest in fashion I was fortunate that my grandmother, who trained and worked as a fashion designer before she was married, took notice of my interest. She spent a lot of time explaining to me the principles of design like asymmetry and why it’s more interesting than symmetry, complementary colors and analogous colors, proportion, and, before almost anything else, layering!

Layering adds depth to an outfit, adds visual interest and complexity. Rather than simply putting on clothing, you add texture and color and dimension by layering.

A few examples of the many ways you can layer your clothing to add interest and texture to your wardrobe

Layers can be as simple as a T-shirt worn under a shirt or a jacket, or it can be complex, with multiple layers built on each other. However you do it, it can take a look from being basic to much more interestin. For example, the pop of a white T-shirt at the neckline under a crewneck sweater is so much more interesting than just the sweater alone. The contrast of the white brightens and adds a bit of interest to a simple top, and the contrast in color brightens your face.

From a practical standpoint alone, multiple layers are especially practical in cooler weather when you might want to conserve heat (I’m always cold in the winter) and when you might need to add or remove layers when moving from warm buildings into cold temperatures to stay comfortable.

A few examples of the many ways you can layer your clothing to add interest and texture to your wardrobe

A few examples of the many ways you can layer your clothing to add interest and texture to your wardrobe

But think of layers more in terms of what they can do for your style, too. In my experience, the best items to layer are T-shirts, button-down shirts, cardigans, blazers, and jackets. You could easily layer all of these items over each other in a single outfit, or you can pick two or three to layer together at one time. Once you’ve chosen your layers, think about adding an accessory or two: jewelry, a belt, scarf, or hat. Use restraint here, but one or two specially chosen items can really finish an outfit.

I’ve chosen a few examples to illustrate this idea in these photos. Maybe they’ll inspire you to wear the clothing in your own wardrobe a little differently? Maybe you’ll want to add a few layering items into your wardrobe? I’m personally thinking about making myself a navy Melville Cardigan, which would work well with the rest of the navy, cream, and gray in my wardrobe. I want to wear it alone as a top but also layered over tees, a Classic Shirt, and under blazers and coats.

Here are a few of the patterns in our collection that lend themselves well to layering:


Base layers:

Women’s Metro Tee #metrotee A basic tee, not too oversized, great for wearing alone or under other items as a first layer

Strasbourg Henley Bodysuit + Top  #strasbourghenley The bodysuit here is so easy to layer because it stays tucked in! But the top is also a practical but interesting basic.


Mid layers:

Classic Shirt #lieslandcoclassicshirt  You can’t go wrong with a classic button-down shirt. Worn over a tee or under a jacket, it’s always a good choice.

Melville Cardigan + Vest #melvillecardigan Worn open or buttoned over a tee or our Classic Shirt, this style adds texture. But it can also be worn alone, buttoned and tucked in, as a cute top. This style is especially relevant right now, I think when I’m seeing cardigans everywhere, worn every way imaginable. Throw it around your neck instead of a winter scarf, if you want!

Noord T-Shirt + Sweatshirt #noordtshirt I’m a fan of the high-low school of dressing: pair a casual sweatshirt with a pencil skirt for a fun mix. Or add a sweatshirt over a tee on the weekend when you’re keeping things really casual.

Neighborhood Sweatshirt and Hoodie #neighborhoodraglan I love a hoodie under a blazer for a surprising high-low mix.

Recital Shirt #recitalshirt The pleats in this style are tuxedo-inspired, which means this style can easily go to work but also looks so cool when worn a little wrinkled and untucked with beat-up jeans for casual wear.


Outer layers:

Yanaka Jacket #yanakajacket An alternative to the classic blazer, I love this style for it’s tailored style. And it makes a great layer with jeans or for much dressier occasions.

Chaval Coat #chavalcoat A classic overcoat, this also adds lots of style when worn over basic jeans and a tee.

Woodland Stroll Cape #woodlandstrollcape A fun cape to throw over almost anything for an easy layer.

Wynwood Robe #wynwoodrobe I sewed this style from a printed rayon, and it looks great over a tee and jeans to dress them up and add a little attitude. Don’t reserve your Wynwood only for lounge-wear! In the right fabric it’s a topper for the rest of your wardrobe.



Garibaldi A-Line Skirt #garibaldiskirt A classic A-line skirt, this style can be sewed in any length and looks great with a tee, classic shirt, almost any of our top patterns.

Hollywood Trousers #hollywoodtrousers Classic trousers, always in style and ready to layer with either casual or dressy tops.

Extra-Sharp Pencil Skirt #extrasharppencilskirt  You can’t go wrong with a slim skirt. And don’t forget you can sew this in anything from relaxed denim to fancy brocades!

I hope you’ll think about how you can layer your wardrobe and start thinking about the different roles your clothing can plan in adding texture and depth to your style!


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  1. Lyndsey

    I really love this post!

    One of my favorite books is The Lost Art of Dress, which has a chapter on the Five Art Principles of dress: harmony, rhythm, balance, proportion, and emphasis. It really changed how I thought about clothing, to think of it as a whole rather than individual pieces.

    Now I’m in the mood to do some wardrobe planning!

    1. I’ve never heard of that book, Lyndsey! Will look it up. Thanks!

  2. Lisa

    Here in the Pacific Northwest we live in layers, though admittedly usually layers of athletic and rainwear. You’re inspiring me to try a little harder 😉

  3. Barb

    I love these looks. However, with my post-menopausal body, I think I might look like the Michelin man with all those layers!

    1. Oh, but that´s the beauty of layers done correctly–you can actually highlight and camouflage as desired. It´s not simply putting on lots of things, you need to wear your clothing strategically, with some consideration.

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