Not-so-basic ways to wear fall layers

It’s no secret that layers are a great way to add visual interest to any outfit. When summer breezes start to shift to crisp autumn air, layers and fall go hand in hand. Let’s be honest, dressing in fall is FUN. After a summer of shorts and tanks, it can feel really good to snuggle up in a sweater.

Knowing how to layer without looking like a goof can be kind of tricky. You don’t want to look sloppy or overdressed or, worse yet, like you don’t know what the heck you are doing. So, before we dig into go-to pieces for this fall that are perfect for layering, we have a few tips to consider when layering it up:

  • Consider vests or sleeveless shirts to avoid bulking up your arms and allow for movement. No stuffed sausages here!
  • Mix and match crewnecks with V-necks or turtlenecks. It’ll help each layer stand out and again, help provide you some movement.
  • This one might seem like common sense, but wear your largest piece, like a vest or jacket, on top. Again, this helps avoid unnecessary bulk. Also, leaving this top layer open allows for other layers to shine.
  • Pull your hair back. Hair adds bulk and in combination with multiple layers, it usually looks less overwhelming when it’s out of the way. Plus, this allows you to show off your earrings!
  • Experiment! The great thing with layering is the pieces you use are fairly basic on their own, which makes them great candidates for mixing and matching with other pieces. Don’t be afraid to play around and see how many ways you can style one piece.

Long cardigans

Break out the sweaters, sisters, because! Longer cardigans are really the building blocks of fall wardrobes this year. They are so versatile and can work well over nearly any type of base layer: tanks, tees, blouses, button-downs, even dresses. Heck, they can even double as a jacket! Try adding a pendent necklace to play up the length of the cardigan and heeled boots to elongate your legs. To really stretch the wear-ability of your cardigan, look for one in a neutral color, like this black one from Gap.


Flannel is such a versatile layer because it can be used as both a middle or top layer. Try one on, like this piece from J. Crew, with a graphic sweatshirt over the top, letting the flannel peek out a bit underneath. You also can simply layer it over a slouchy tee for a casual weekend vibe. Either way, balance out a heavier top with a more body-hugging bottom.


Yes, this tried and true staple is sticking around for another season. Yes, there are a million and one ways to wear chambray and that’s why it’s a wardrobe essential. To keep it simple, we like a light-colored chambray, like this plus-size one from Talbots, coupled with a pair of dark wash jeans or black skinnies. Cuff the sleeves and throw a vest, jacket or chunky cardigan over the top. Big impact for little effort.


Ponchos are a trendy way to add some warmth but still help you stay stylish and chic. Plus, the perfect poncho will take you right through winter. All ponchos make a big impact when paired with some dark skinnies. What you layer under your poncho will depend on how “busy” or patterned the poncho is. For example, this poncho from Apt. 9 has rather simple color blocking in similar shades. You could wear a striped long-sleeve shirt under it. However, if your poncho has more colors and prints on it, opt for a solid colored top.


Jackets are kind of a no-brainer for fall layering, but we challenge you to think outside your go-to jean jacket or fall parka. Look for something in color, like this faux-suede jacket from Just Fab. It’s a gorgeous evergreen that would look fabulous with black jeans and booties. Layer it over a flannel or floral peplum top.


Besides a jacket, a super easy way to add that last one-two punch to any outfit is to top it off with a vest.

Cargo vests have been trendy for several years running now and with good reason. Pop one on over a dress, tank, long sleeve or even a cable-knit sweater. This one from Buffalo David Bitton is a great, updated take on the trendy khaki green cargo vests that you see everywhere.

Sherpa is B-I-G. The key to this trend is balance. If you find a Sherpa vest, it will add more volume to your outfit on top, so find a pair of skinnies to partner it with and avoid the wider-legged jeans.

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a nonprofit human services organization whose mission is Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, 24 human services programs, unique shopping experiences at its boutiques and Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at It offers four Donation Express sites and 10 convenient donation bins throughout the Fox Cities. Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit


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