In last week’s cardigan post we talked about four formulae for adding layers to our look, specifically using light cardigans. Formulae #’s 1-4 were somewhat basic, fairly expected and proven usages of the cardigan as a layering technique (haha, like that technical lingo? Wait till we get to Advanced Cardigan…).
Well, today’s Frilling Formulae are a step up from Basic. A little less-expected. A little more daring. A little more Frilling. And very colorful!
Remember how Formula #1 involved matching the cardigan color to a color in the pattern? Well, as we progress to Intermediate Cardigan, we want to think about harmonizing our colors rather than matching them. First we learn the matching rule, then we learn to break it.
Formula #5: Tone-on-Tone
Also known as Monochromatic. I love this look. It’s a trick I personally pull a lot. I just love piling on layers of the same color. In fact, I think I exercised a fair amount of restraint by not wearing pink shoes and lipstick. That would be overkill, right? Anyway, the point is to layer varying shades of the same color, or varying textures of the same color. Here I have my favorite pink Madewell v-neck tee with a hot pink cardi overtop. The scarf could just have easily been a neutral color, or a necklace, or removed entirely. I kept the bottom neutral with dark skinnies.
Aurelia is mixing lavenders here, with a cute striped short. (Incidentally: Ellie, this is a version of your warm-weather outfit.)
…And she’s doing the same outfit concept here, but with mixed-pinks on top. See? Super useful.
Formula #6: Bright-on-Bright (or Pastel-on-Pastel, or Pastel-on-Bright, or Neon-on-Neon)
Color blocking has been a big trend the past few seasons, and this is a variation on it. Take two strong colors, and put them in the same outfit. Zoey D is always doing this on New Girl. I always love it.
These three examples are all of cardigans and dresses. But a bright top paired with a bright cardigan atop a neutral or printed skirt or pants accomplishes the same thing in terms of this formula.
The Patterned Cardigan
So far we’ve only discussed solid cardigans. Now its time to step it up to patterns! The You Frill Me gals LOVE pattern. You will be amazed at how much use you’ll get out of a couple patterned layers. I only have a few patterned cardis, but I wear the heck out of them. If you’re afraid of pattern, or just unfamiliar, here is the simplest way to wear it
Formula #7: Patterned Cardi + Solid Base Layer
Your base layer – say a cami, blouse, or tee - can be neutral. For sure, the easiest is to throw a pattern on top of a navy, white, or black tee. And that surely works. But we’re talking about playing with lively, bright color here, soooo…. why not pair stripes or animal print with a bright or pastel solid?
Naomi texted me this quick pic she took of a combo she likes to wear, pairing her teal and navy stripe with a bright coral top. I love these colors. She is definitely thinking about color harmony here, but what’s interesting about this striped cardi is that I’m guessing she gets tons of use out of it since the teal and navy can work with a lot of different colors. For instance, a yellow top would be just as cute with it. Or red. Or cobalt (mixing hues). Or pink. You get it.
Alternatively, Naomi could use this same cardi and follow the reverse of Formula #1, and wear a coordinating (matchy-matching) base layer. But it wouldn’t be as playful, would it?
And here is one of my own favorite printed cardigans. This sucker gets tons of use. We think stripes and animal print are two of the easiest patterns to wear and remix. In fact, I mostly consider the animal print to be neutral, and tend to use this particular cardigan just like I use a neutral one, and mix it with lots of different prints and colors. I just threw it on with a v-neck tee and a cobalt cami (I like a camisole to keep my tummy covered while nursing) for a regular weekday. But it dresses up easily too.
This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of pattern. Oh yes my Frills, there will be more. Advanced Cardigans is aaaaaall about pattern. And other fun things.
So what do you think? Opine in the comments!
We’ve been talking about the “Rule of Three” - the idea of layering pieces to create a more cohesive, sophisticated look - over here on the blog lately. There’s been lots of discussion happening on facebook about it, and apparently it has struck a chord of inspiration with some of our favorite readers. Fabulous. Frilling!
My darling friend Ali gave herself a challenge to help her step up her game a bit in the style department. She decided that for 3 days she’d follow the Rule of Three. I asked her about her experience and here’s what she said:
I’m fashionally challenged. So after Fran explained the “three layer rule,” we made it homework: three days of three layers in one week. To start, I went thrifting and found a few new pieces that I could easily layer with items I already own:
Day One: I picked the sky-blue cardigan, layering it over an favorite T and adding the new necklace. I wasn’t convinced it was a great outfit, but I knew I’d made a start. I took my photo–but I wasn’t happy about it.
Day Two: I picked the teal cardigan, which I had fallen in love with. I poked around on the LOFT website, looking for how their models wore their cardigans. I noticed most of the “loud” cardigans were paired with neutral tops, so I imitated that. A beaded necklace functioned as my third layer. I felt confident in my choices and let my husband snap a cute pic for me.
Day Three: I faced a two-outfit day. For work, I picked the black-and-white striped tee. Fran had challenged me to use a scarf as my third layer rather than a necklace, so I added a black cardigan and a hot pink scarf. I paired the top with a flirty skirt instead of my uniform pants–and I felt like a movie star.
For after-work, I knew I’d be attending a formal awards banquet. I chose a print top with a cami and a complementary necklace, paired with a white skirt and metallic wedges.
How does it feel, now that it’s done? As someone who usually finds shopping and dressing to be painfully difficult, the three-layer challenge was liberating. My confidence grew exponentially. And, as I stood in my closet the night before the final challenge day, putting together my outfits was actually fun. Frillingly so.
There are so many things I love about this. One is that Ali was about to make the Rule work for her in her daily life fairly easily. Two is that she went shopping with a purpose, looking for specific pieces to work with and Frill up her existing wardrobe. Three, that Ali embraced some bright, fun colors. And four, that she said her outfit made her feel like a movie star. And that, folks, is where it’s at.
Ali, You FRILL us!
PS: Ali, your next challenge is to remix those cardigans into other outfits.
PPS: Stay tuned for the next installment of our cardigan series, hopefully later this week!
So, ya’ll know Aurelia and I are always talking about cardigans, right? I even published a post entitled “Cardigans 101,” where I talked about the Frilling Four: four cardigans I recommend to start your cardi collection. See, what we’re really talking about is layers, ’cause cardigans make great layering pieces.
We think layering is an easy way to make your outfits look put-together, grown up, and interesting. Layers take a little more thought than just throwing on a top and bottom and running out the door, but not that much more once you get the hang of it. The best advice I’ve found is the “Rule of Three.” Shana has a great post on it if you’re unfamiliar. (This post is helpful too.) The gist is, aim for three pieces on top. For warm weather these may be a tank + a light cardi + a statement necklace. Or a tee + blazer + scarf. Or in cooler weather a cami + long sleeve button-up + fuzzy sweater. You get the idea. Three is the magic number.
A YouFrillMe reader friend sent me this message: “Fran, I am now the proud owner of several mostly-solid-colored cardigans. But I have no idea what to put underneath them! Would love some help…”
Ok friend, here goes. The rules are…(drum roll)…there are NO RULES. But, lest I seem unhelpful, here are a few examples — “formulae” if you will — to get you started on your happy layering journey.
Formula #1: Patterned Blouse + Coordinating Solid Cardigan
This is the simplest, most no-brainer way to combine layers. Think 60′s housewife. Here Aurelia does the formula in a more modern way, but its the same principle your granny has been wearing in her twinsets for years. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s classic and a little bit preppy, and it works.
I’m doing the same formula here: I simply chose a color from my the pattern in my dress and added that color cardigan. Easy peasy. Not unexpected, but cute. My seafoam statement necklace satisfies the Rule of Three.
Formula #2: Mixing Neutrals
Here I’m following the Rule of Three with a tank, a light cardi, and a statement necklace (this chunky seafoam necklace has been keeping me good company this spring – I’ve been throwing it on with everything). With the exception of the necklace, everything is neutral in color: a navy tank, wheat-colored cardi, and light gray shorts. Neutrals like this are like the O-negative blood of your wardrobe – the universal donors that can go anywhere. I love mixing neutrals, but I try to not let it get too boring by adding cool accessories like the necklace and these hand-me-down blue Naot wedges (soooo comfy!).
Formula #3: Neutral Top + Bright (or Pastel) Cardigan
Here my friend Ali is demonstrating her layering skills with a neutral blouse plus a bright cardigan. With a neutral (white, cream, beige, gray, navy, black, chambray) blouse and bottom, she can choose any color cardigan she wants. This turquoise is springy and enlivening, and she’s following the Rule of Three by adding a cute beaded necklace. The lace on the white blouse adds textural interest also. Doesn’t she look pretty?
Aurelia is following this same formula below (from this post, if you’ve been following her series on how to wear chambray), and also following the Rule of Three, with her chambray + coral cardigan + statement necklace:
Formula #4: Bright Top + Neutral Cardigan
This is Formula #3 in reverse. Beth, a master hand at neutrals, is wearing a solid pastel shirt-dress with a neutral cardigan. Her cardi is extra frilling because it’s subtly striped and menswear-inspired. The Frills are in the details, folks.
And remember Naomi did this too, with her cobalt top and beige cardi paired with a bold pattern on bottom.
More ideas for how to wear your layers to come, so stay tuned for Intermediate and Advanced… but meanwhile, how do you do it? And, if you’re in need of more cardigan inspiration, check out Shana’s How We Wear it series.
Whew! 37 weeks tomorrow! Come on baby!
Frilling fashion is no easy task these days. Mostly I want to wear yoga pants. But I resist the urge unless I’m planning on staying home all day (or actually going to yoga). This is an outfit I put together last week, which Aurelia insisted we should photograph. The most frilling part is that none of the pieces are actually maternity; they’re just regular pieces that happen to work despite the fact that I am huge.
(Blue dress: from a boutique in Ruston, LA I can’t remember the name of/ tube top: same boutique / cardigan: Zara, last year / flats: Born)
Recently my friend Katie and I were having a discussion about cardigans. She was telling me that she has no cardigans, and I was telling her that I was horrified and mystified as to how one can get dressed without them. Because in my opinion, cardigans are wardrobe workhorses: the ultimate layering piece. Well, Katie, I give you the Best Cardigan Ever. MVP of cardigans, this is it. The long, neutral-colored, light-weight one that goes with everything, and in cooler months gets worn at least twice a week. This one is from Zara last year; Aurelia first had it in navy, and I liked it so much I went and got the taupey-gray-brown one.
If, like my friend Katie, you have no cardigans, I recommend starting with the Frilling Four: two long (past butt-crease length) and two short (waist length). I think that three of the four should be versatile, neutral colors, like my taupey-gray or navy blue or black or heather gray or wheat-colored; and one of the waist-length ones should be a bright color that works well with your wardrobe, maybe cobalt, red, or plum. I recommend your Frilling Four be lighter in weight, so you can get more year-round wear with them (in chilly months you can layer them with tees, blouses, and jackets). As your collection grows, you can add more brights as needed. For summer-weight cardigans, Aurelia and I are both huge fans of the Jackie cardigan from JCrew, which we generally pick up at factory outlet sales.
So, what are your thoughts on cardigans? Are you like me and can’t get dressed without them? Do you agree with my Frilling Four starter recommendation? Or do you have another MVP layering piece you rely on?