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Dear Bucky: Help Me Become a Layering Lady

October 23, 2013

Dear Bucky,

I love the idea of layering clothing, but I’m not sure how to do it. Help!

-Lost on layering

Dear Lost on Layering,

It’s getting colder and thus it’s the season for your mantra to be, “how about another layer???” A pessimist would  probably argue that the more clothing items you put on, the more opportunities you have to mess up (which probably explains your fear).

Let’s first note, that unless you are personally offending someone based on ethnicity or religion (ie: racist, etc) then you can’t mess it up. Fashion is in the eye of the beholder right? There will always be someone who thinks you look like a fool and someone who thinks you look like their very own fashion idol. You must accept this before you can confidently do anything to your appearance.

Now that you’ve got that all figured out…all you need to do is decide your layering style:

Are you going to be a Boho Chic Olsen?

In order to dress like a Boho Olsen, just start channeling a homeless person vibe. Effective Boho Olsen layering should answer all the following questions in the negative: Do I look sexy? Can you even make an educated guess about the shape of my body? and Am I uncomfortable  in any sort of way? Please keep in mind that to achieve Boho Olsen (rather than dirty hippie) you must continue to bathe. The key is to continue wearing expensive clothing, just make sure it’s  about 2 sizes larger than your ‘actual’ size.

Or are you going to adapt their older, more mature, Row Olsen look?

The key to the Olsen Row look is a limited color palate (grey, white, black…pop colors include: nude), diverse textures (think knit, under silk, under wool), and flowing shapes. Roll up sleeves and you’re set. (Belting optional)

Not feeling the homeless or hopelessly chic look? Why not hit somewhere in between and take style cues from Leandra Medine (aka: Man Repeller).

Creative layering (and awesome penmanship) are to blame for this chick’s rise to the top. Known for pushing limits (why can’t you wear a motorcycle jacket with a wedding dress?) she proves that there is no way ‘to mess it up’. (Please feel free to feed off all the layering ideas above)

Here’s a piece by piece layering example:

Starting from left picture: 1) t-shirt, jeans, ballet flats 2) add sheer t-shirt 3) add flannel shirt 4) add floral jacket 5) change shoes…height looks better. add glasses 6) add head wrap.

This works because she is mixing things of the same color palate and with the same tones (muted). This keeps the patterns from competing and patterns keep the solids from looking too matchy matchy.

Here’s the big picture: Look towards your favorite layering ladies for style cues, then just keep adding (and subtracting when needed) pieces until it feels right.

Bon Chance!


Ps. Layering is a lot like drug usage (or at least according to my very limited knowledge) and you have to build up before you achieve the super layered full on effect. The gateway drug would be something like a cardigan (let’s say, over jeans and a tee). Then one day you say: what if I put another cardigan over the one I have?? You feel instantly chic and transformed. After a couple weeks of that you need something new (a new high? shall we say), so you trade out the jeans for a pencil skirt and heels. Before you know it, you will be wearing a blazer, two cardigans, a tee, three skirts (pencil, short a-line, shortest mini), socks and heels. At this point a friend will probably tell you to chill out and you have to face the hard fact that AA or NA (or layerers anonymous!??) does not exist for fashionistas.

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