It all started with a few models walking the runway at Marni and other couture lines wearing clothes that (gasp!) were not skintight nor bondage dress-like. Instead, the style was layered and even slightly boxy.

Fashion being fashion (as in the “powers that be” love to confound us), the layered look was utterly sophisticated and totally confusing. I mean, how does the average woman interpret this style without looking like the Michelin tire man? Layers look lovely when you are a willowy,, thin model, but can translate as tragic on the other 99 percent of the population.

This season is all about layers. Understanding how to wear them is key.

Layers work on models, but what about the rest of us? Image credit: InStyle

Your first instinct when wearing the layered look is to grab a crisp white blouse and wear it under your favorite cashmere sweater. While your instincts are spot on (blouse plus sweater equals layers), you may end up looking like a parochial schoolgirl.

Layering no-no

A blouse and sweater can turn “schoolgirl” on a dime. Image credit: Pinterest

RULE #1: Stay untucked!

Keep your layered look modern by letting your blouse remain untucked. This works great in theory, but you can’t untuck with any old sweater. A sweater with a ribbed waist will create a weird, poofy shirttail. To pull off this nonchalant elegance, you need a sweater that is either cropped or slightly oversized at the waist, so that the blouse is never tight against the body.

Great looking sweater and blouse combo.

A sweater-with-blouse combo that floats away from the waist? Perfect! Image credit: Pinterest Daily News Fashion

Did you hear me use the word “cropped” as a fashion option for those older than 25? The layered look was created so that everyone can embrace the proportion play of a cropped sweater.

Great layered look!

A cropped sweater becomes an option for every age when you layer. Image credit: Pinterest HotPatterns

RULE #2: Strike a balance.

Wearing a blouse untucked means the bottom half of your look should be slim. No floaty skirts or wide-legged trousers. Instead, wear a slim pant or pencil skirt so that you don’t look overwhelmed by layers and fabric. Skinny jeans or a to-the-ankle trouser balance the layered look you sport on top.

Great examples of striking a balance with layers.

Skinny on the bottom balances layers on the top. Image credit: Pinterest, Damsel in Dior

RULE #3: Tame the tugging.

If you hate the thought of wearing two shirts at once (the tugging, the bulk, the horror!), don’t fret! We have options. Invest in a tunic-style blouse that gives you several extra inches to spare. This one, from Ann Taylor, is perfect for antituggers.

A tunic blouse is a layering staple.

A longer, tunic-style blouse makes layering easy. Image credit: Ann Taylor

RULE #4: Embrace the all-in-one.

And the ultimate cheat sheet for the layered look? The sweater-and-blouse combo that we are seeing all over. Retailers are offering options that look layered, but have the ease of one piece.

All-in-ones make layering a cinch!

This appears to be a layered look, but it is an all-in-one piece that makes layering easy-peasy. At Ann Taylor, $89

Like cake, Farrah Fawcett hair and now fashion, layers are the ultimate in sweet, sassy and on-trend style. Follow a few tips and be a part of the layered love.

Examples of How to Shop the look:

Cashmere poncho, $165; white blouse, $76, at The French Shoppe.

Cashmere poncho, $165; white blouse, $76, at The French Shoppe.

Love this cropped sweater at Philanthropy

A cropped sweater that floats away from the waist works for layering. This piece has an open back; try layering with a long tee for interest. Cropped sweater, $78, at Philanthropy.


Love this plaid top and sweater from Blush

Who says the shirt has to be white? Add a fun, plaid shirt to your layering mix. Plaid top, $41.99, and sweater, $ 71.99, at Blush Boutique

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