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.