No matter how much you love summer — and the warm weather, relaxing vacations, and refreshing cocktails that go with it — many of the sartorially inclined welcome fall with open arms. Instead of worrying about which basics will keep you the coolest or how to wear jeans without overheating, fall suddenly affords you the option to think about new silhouettes, return to warmer fabrics, and even think about layering.
Regardless of what climate you live in, or where you find yourself traveling, layering is one of the most useful strategies to look chic and stay comfortable. That’s especially true in a season that tends to bring unpredictable weather patterns and frequently changing temperatures. Layering enables you to wear your favorite pieces from summer past the time when you can wear them on their own, and it also makes it possible to ease into wearing the fall and winter pieces that you’ve had stashed away since spring.
Even if everything from last year’s fall wardrobe is still intact and in good shape, it can take some time to get back into the swing of things. Layering is an art that’s easy to temporarily forget thanks to a long summer of trying to wear as little as possible. So, if you want some inspiration, or need some help refreshing your wardrobe, we’ve collected a few of our favorite pieces that are perfect for layering. Read on for our checklist of fall must-haves, along with some easy ideas for styling these staples.
1. A blazer
Almost everybody can find a blazer they love. Whether it’s a tweedy schoolboy blazer or a sleek black jacket, a bright ponte blazer or a camel wool style, there’s a blazer that fits every wardrobe. Blazers are great to wear on top of an oxford shirt or a tee, but they don’t always have to be the top layer (especially if fall brings some particularly cold days your way). They can easily be layered under a light jacket or coat for some extra warmth, and are often a great way to add some color and texture to a fall ensemble.
2. A light turtleneck
Turtlenecks are going to be everywhere this fall, and for good reason. They’re warm and comfortable, particularly if you choose one in a luxe and lightweight fabric, and they’re versatile layering pieces. You can wear one by itself with a pair of skinny jeans or cropped trousers, or opt to add a scarf or a jacket. In solids, stripes, or other classic patterns, a turtleneck is a surprisingly versatile top to add to your wardrobe.
3. A marinière
The marinière, or classic striped Breton shirt, is a staple that’s quite useful in the fall. If you opt for a lightweight cotton shirt, you can wear it as you would any other tee: layered with a blazer or a cardigan or worn under a trench coat or wool coat. If you opt for a heavier, wool marinière, you can wear it almost as you would a sweater. In either case, it’s an easy way to channel some classic French style, which is easy to integrate into many different kinds of ensembles.
4. A cashmere sweater
There’s a reason why a cashmere sweater appears year after year on lists of pieces that are worth the splurge: Good-quality cashmere is comfortable, lightweight, and can last you years if you take care of it properly. The silhouettes of cashmere sweaters vary as widely as the colors, but you can’t beat a basic crewneck or a classically-proportioned V-neck when it comes to layering potential. Both look great with preppy basics like oxford shirts, but you can also wear a tee or tank underneath for a more streamlined look. You can also opt for an oversized cut for a modern style.
5. A wool cardigan
Another material to pay attention to if you need some warm layering pieces for fall is merino wool. It’s lightweight and sturdy, and is the perfect choice for a cardigan you can layer over all of your favorite tops and dresses. A slim crewneck cardigan looks great with a tee or a sheath dress, while a longer V-neck one works well with a button-front shirt. An oversized cardigan is easy to pair with a shift dress or even with a drapey tee. Whether your style is preppy or minimal, edgy or feminine, there’s a great cardigan for you.
6. A white button-front shirt
Not everybody likes the look of a white button-front shirt. But for those who do, this is one versatile layering piece. A white oxford is the perfect counterpoint to a blazer or a trench coat, while a white silk shirt layers well with oversized cardigans and modern outerwear with more sculptural silhouettes. Similarly, a white chambray shirt looks great paired with a field jacket or a shirt jacket.
7. A leather jacket
A leather jacket is another style that isn’t for everybody, but has something to offer for a wider range of people than you might imagine. There’s the classic motorcycle jacket — which you can find in black, brown, or navy, and wear with everything from band tees to French striped tees — or a variety of other styles. A band-collar leather jacket works well with a minimal wardrobe, and one in a weather cognac leather can add some edge to even the preppiest of wardrobes. Or, for those who love color, a leather jacket in an unexpected shade can be the perfect way to wear the style.
8. A light wool coat or jacket
Whether it’s a camel topcoat or a navy peacoat, a fall-friendly wool coat is always a great layering piece to have in your wardrobe. Black, gray, navy, and tan are all popular choices when it comes to colors, and silhouettes cover the spectrum. You’ll know you’ve found the right coat when you can imagine yourself wearing it with just about all of your fall favorites. Since a good coat can be an investment, it’s always a great idea to do your research to figure out how the style will fit into your existing wardrobe.