Sweater Layering: Four Tips for Foolproof Winter Fashion

You’ve picked out your outfit and you’re 100 percent confident that it looks good. But then you look at the weather outside and realize that a sweater might be a good idea. That’s great, except for one thing—it suddenly throws off your outfit. Use these simple tips for foolproof sweater layering to step up your winter fashion game.

Contrast is almost always better than doubling up on colors.

When you wear a bold color—say, this Block Knit Cardigan in Chili—there’s never any need to turn up the volume. In fact, providing a stark contrast, like with a blue shirt underneath, will actually bring out the color even more, giving it the starring role it deserves.

This isn’t to say that doubling up on colors is always a bad idea. But as you improve your sweater layering confidence, look for easy contrasts and complements: white and blue, blue and red, green and grey.

Use a Cotton Inner Layer as a Rule of Thumb

Enough about colors—what about the fabric itself? You can’t go wrong in using 100 percent cotton shirts. Oxford cloth is made from cotton, so you won’t have any worries there. And with many of our sweaters also made from 100% cotton, like the Pullover Sweater in Bronze Brown, you won’t have a case of mixing and matching your fabrics.

Why cotton? For extra cold environments, a wool outer layer will indeed provide serious and versatile insulation. But if you’re not in a life or death situation in the cold—and we hope you aren’t—cotton will offer more comfort and versatility underneath.

Sweater layering over an oxford cloth button down (OCBD) shirt.

The Oxford Cloth Button Down shirt is a simple cotton dress shirt, usually in a crisp plain white or light blue color. Layering on top of a white OCBD is as foolproof as sweater layering gets. Vintage 1946 offers several Oxford Button Downs in plaid for an extra pop of color.

They pair particularly well with cardigan sweaters, like this Block Knit Cardigan in Blue Graphite. Zip it up about three quarters of the way to show off a little bit of the OCBD underneath and your outfit will be ready to go. Bonus points for wearing a wool scarf as well.

Don’t clash your patterns.

This isn’t to say that you can’t wear two different patterns. You certainly can. But you should be mindful about how these patterns look when you pair them together. A loud plaid shirt as your inner layer will be more distracting than mini plaids and gingham-style shirts, for example.

The safest way to do this is to use your outer layer as a way of “muting” the volume on your inside shirt—such as a plaid button-down. A simple navy pullover will have a calming effect on the daring choice you made underneath, pulling the outfit together.

Use these tips regularly and you’ll find that layering isn’t the challenge you thought it once was. You may even find it fun.

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