Playing with My Clothes: Winter Layering.

Oh my dear friends…. I have been longing sooo much this week to go somewhere to wear my good clothes. Even as I type this my toes are curling, and I want to run outside in my slippers in the snow and yell a bit. So to keep myself sane, and save my slippers from ruination, I have been playing with my clothes. Watching some vloggers, in particular Allison Bornstein, play with their clothes, and finding inspiration to do some winter layering.

A trend that I’ve noticed on Instagram and on YouTube for the past while is the sweater worn as a scarf, outside a blazer or even a coat. So yesterday, taking my cue from Allison’s video, I started with my closet “regulars” and played with ways to change up how I might wear them by throwing on a sweater as a scarf.

The basic building blocks for a winter layering outfit. Uniqlo cashmere sweater, Holt Renfrew leather pants and Stuart Weitzman boots.
Basic building blocks.

I started with my faux-leather pants which have been a regular in my closet since 2014 and my Stuart Weitzman ankle boots (similar.) I added my purple cashmere crew-neck sweater from Uniqlo, and some silver jewellry. This is how I might have added my purple hand-knit sweater in the past. I like this look. It’s… okay. If a bit been-there-done-that.

Uniqlo cashmere sweater, Holt Renfrew leather pants, home knit sweater, and Stuart Weitzman boots.
I like this okay.

So instead, I pulled on my old Max Mara black blazer, and put the sweater over it. Now, I love, love this. I love the two purples together. They are very different in texture and weight. I love the black wool blazer over the faux-leather pants. And I love the purples and the blacks together. The bit of sheen from the pants, and the small glints of silver keep the whole look from being too, too dark. The heavy sweater looks great, to me, over the light wool jacket. And keeps the outfit from looking too serious.

The trouble with wearing a sweater on top of a coat or blazer is that it can look a bit silly, I think, and too contrived. It’s a matter of finding the right mix of jacket and sweater. I would wear this outfit, below, and not feel contrived at all. With the jacket buttoned up, the sweater wrapped around my neck, and leather gloves, I’d be warm enough, even this time of year, walking from the house to the car, and from the car to a pub.

My first winter layering outfit. Max Mara jacket, Uniqlo cashmere sweater, Holt Renfrew leather pants, home knit sweater, and Stuart Weitzman boots.
But I love this.

And if the pub is too cold, I can put the heavy sweater on over my cashmere one and still look good. And much more comfortable than wearing the jacket inside. In fact, I love this combination. I don’t know why I haven’t thought of it before.

Uniqlo cashmere sweater, Holt Renfrew leather pants, home knit sweater, and Stuart Weitzman boots.
And this. I’m ready for the pub.

Here’s a close-up of the two purples together.

See how similar the colours are?

Emboldened by my success with the purple and black, I tried a different look. I’ve worn this green Prada sweater under my green Max Mara tweed blazer before. But it’s a look that can be too dark for me now, unless I wear a white shirt or a bright turtleneck under the sweater. Or… I could try the sweater as scarf technique. So I put on my white Vince crew-neck tee shirt with the Max Mara blazer, and tossed the Prada sweater on over the jacket. Ooooh. I love this too. I added white and gold hoops to carry the white up next to my face. Nothing like matching your earrings to your hair. Plus adding one other white piece makes the white tee look less random. Makes the outfit look more finished.

Second winter layering outfit. Vince tee, Max Mara tweed blazer, Prada sweater, Holt Renfrew faux-leather pants, Stuart Weitzman boots.
I love, love this look.

This is how the outfit looks with the jacket buttoned and the sweater tied. I would totally wear this to the pub. Like the other outfit, if I wanted to take the jacket off, I’d pull the sweater on over the tee shirt.

Vince tee, Max Mara tweed blazer, Prada sweater, Holt Renfrew faux-leather pants, Stuart Weitzman boots.
All tied and buttoned up and ready for the pub.

But with the light tee shirt, and not a cashmere sweater as in the first look, I’d need another layer before venturing outside in February. My long green coat should fill the bill. Except the sweater worn on top of the coat looks like one layer too many to me.

Vince tee, Max Mara tweed blazer, Prada sweater, Holt Renfrew faux-leather pants, Stuart Weitzman boots. Holt Renfrew winter coat.
Too much of a good thing.

This is better. I could wear my new cream and grey scarf with this, if I wanted. But do I want? I haven’t worn a blazer under a coat since I retired. Mostly because I wear blazers as outerwear now. And coats as a feature of my outfit, instead of something that I will take off immediately when I arrive at my destination. Like at work.

Vince tee, Max Mara tweed blazer, Holt Renfrew faux-leather pants, Stuart Weitzman boots. Holt Renfrew winter coat.
Better…. minus one layer.

Allison sometimes does her winter layering with blazers under her coats, the blazer providing a bit of something extra, a contrasting print, or pop of colour, to be seen because she wears the coat open. But she pairs her coat with a much lighter blazer than mine. My Max Mara tweed blazer is quite heavy. So while I think the green blazer and white tee look marvelous under my green coat, it would be too uncomfortable to wear for very long. Maybe a lighter blazer under this coat is something I’d try.

I’d definitely wear the blazer with the sweater as a scarf, though. And with a white cashmere sweater instead of the tee, the outfit would be warm enough on mild days even now. If I had a white cashmere sweater, I’d be in business. But I don’t. So I’m not. In business, that is.

I needed the pop of white to offset the dark green.

So you see, even with a wardrobe as small as mine, I can still find new and slightly different ways to wear the same old stuff. And it’s that slight difference which can make all the difference in how I feel about my same old stuff. Which I love, of course. But which I could easily grow tired of, very tired. I’m lucky that I can pack away my winter clothes, jackets and coats, and chunky sweaters for a few months each year.

That’s the benefit of living in such a seasonal climate. When I turn my closet and haul out the new season’s clothes, I feel as if I have a whole new wardrobe. Some slow-fashion advocates recommend that you pack away a selection of your clothes for a while even if they are seasonably appropriate. That way you can benefit when you haul them out again, just like us closet-turners.

Next fall, I will feel as if I am being reunited with old friends after a long absence when I turn my closet. And hopefully I’ll be able to wear these old friends. COVID-vaccine willing. Because I sure as heck have NOT worn my favourite winter pieces since way last March. I have to keep trying stuff on for the blog, and swanning around the house, just to assure myself that I can fit into everything.

And you know, now that I’ve started thinking of different ways to play with winter layering, I think I’ll have another go this upcoming week. Maybe some of my other jackets under some of my other coats. Or with cardigans, and down vests, and hoodies. The possibilities are unfurling in my imagination as I write. I feel some heavy swanning coming on, people.

And since I can’t go anywhere to wear my new winter layering outfits, I have a plan. A dream, actually.

This is my dream.

I’ll organize a big party. At a local pub. With all my girlfriends. An old-style English pub where the food is fabulous, and we joke with the bartender, and there’ll be a small live band that plays all the old songs we love. Carole King, and Abba, and The Beatles. I’ll wear my black and purple outfit with my leather pants and my Stuart Weitzman boots. We’ll sit around a huge table and laugh and sing along with the music. When one of us prances up to the bar to order another round, we’ll all admire their outfit. Because it’s been so long since we’ve been dressed up, and out on the town together, we’ll whistle and catcall. As only good friends are allowed to do. “Oooh, look at Erica’s sexy new pants.” “Joanne! Are those another new pair of Fleuvogs? Looking fabulous, my girl.”

And when it’s my turn everyone will yell: “Work those leather pants, Sue.” And I will do a little jig and win a round of applause. And I’ll feel like a million bucks. We all will.

No… make that two million bucks.

So have a look in your closet, my friends. See if you can come up with some winter layering ideas. Then plan your “new” outfit. It should be dressy enough to make you feel good, and casual enough to wear to a pub. Don’t forget that it’s winter in Canada, and the old pub while wonderfully atmospheric will probably be drafty. We promise we’ll make a positive comment on your outfit if you prance up to the bar to buy a round.

Once you have your outfit planned, take a picture of you wearing it, and send it to me. And I’ll do a party post. All about how we wore our winter layers.

P.S. The clothing links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I will earn a commission.

P.P.S. If you haven’t seen it yet you can watch my fall wardrobe edit video here. In this video I review what’s in my closet and drawers for fall, draw some conclusions about what I am wearing and what I need to wear more, and set a couple of goals for myself.

P.P.P.S. Send me your winter layering pictures by next Sunday, February 14. FYI. If your sweetie consents to take your photo, remind them to hold the phone perfectly straight up and down, in portrait mode, with the lens about halfway down your body. If they are taller than you, and hold up the camera up high, angling it down, you will look as if you have teeny tiny feet. Just sayin. 🙂


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37 thoughts on “Playing with My Clothes: Winter Layering.”

  1. The purple looks brilliant with your white hair. I notice the low-lights you put in the front have gone, if I may say your hair looks fabulous like this and don’t think you need it. Sorry, I am a bit white hair obsessed currently, growing mine in 🙂

    1. Thanks, Lise. I still have lowlights on the ends, and I am planning to have them done again, not as many this time. I like them when there are fewer and more on the ends. We’ll see how it goes this time.

  2. Thanks for the invite Sue … I’m looking forward to visiting a Canadian pub and of course, meeting up with everyone again! Desperate for a good chat! 😂
    I really enjoyed this post, so much. I’ve worn a sweater as a scarf over my Uniqlo ( or similar) jacket or a lightweight jacket/mac particularly when travelling.
    As you say, handy to then pop the jumper/sweater on if it’s chilly indoors or under the jacket if it gets colder outside, in the evening.
    I think your green suede jacket will work really well styled this way too … maybe even with your green Vince sweater ?? depending on your other layer.
    I also like a down vest layered under a coat or jacket … then rolled up and popped in a bag if it gets too warm! So easy!
    You’ve inspired me now to look at other options!
    Rosie xx

    1. I like my down vest under a light winter coat as well. I wear my burgundy Uniqlo vest under my Max Mara tweed coat quite a bit. At least I did when I actually went anywhere. 🙂

  3. Thanks for introducing Allison – she’s good . I’ve not thought of doing this . It could get abit annoying if the fabrics were very smooth & things slid around . You need fabrics with some friction . I like the way you analyse why something works . I can know it works but I don’t always know why . So I’m going to have a go & see if I can get a decent photo , with normal sized head & feet 🤞I’ll have to break it to Max gently as I don’t think he’s recovered from our last photo shoot yet .

    1. I have the same problem with photos Wendy.😞 I guess my husband looks at them differently to me, as he always thinks any he takes of me are good. ( I think he says this so he can stop … I often have my eyes shut 😂) He finally bought me a selfie stick ( definitely not used in public!) but I’m not very skilled with it … think big head, tiny feet…
      Rosie xx
      ps it’s been lovely to see pictures of you and put a face to the name.

    2. I like Allison’s videos because she works with a sort of formula which I can apply to my own wardrobe. I don’t like all of her outfits, but then again I don’t need to. You’re right though, the fabric of the coat can make a difference. Lots of people on IG wear the sweater over a trench, but I think I’d be constantly readjusting it on a light slippery coat.

  4. Enjoyed your post. wish I could say the same for our Florida weather,Cold,rainy and damp at the moment Sine I was basically retired from my volunteer job-event planning- and my big adventure is going to the hairdresser or grocery store. I am finding that I don’t need all the dressy clothes and am trying to purge what my husband calls the collection. It is very hard to say goodby to some of them!But perhaps through Good Will, someone may find a good use for them! If I still lived in Germany, I would enjoy your layered look with the coat! So if I invite myself to your dream party,I know I could find something to wear! Best,don’t throw out your back shoveling snow! Stay safe!

    1. I love that your husband calls your clothes “the collection.” I gave away lots of the business wear I knew I’d never wear again when I retired. My young teacher friends were delighted to benefit from this. And it was such fun having them over to my house for a try-on session.

  5. Thanks again for another inspiring post. Those purples look gorgeous with your hair, or I should say you look gorgeous with the purple. I tried a sweater over a sweater, and it bunched at the back of my neck, then when I looked in the mirror at the rear view, quickly took it off. Perhaps it takes practice and various textures and friction to get it right. Your long coat is so beautiful and with your long legs, looks positively elegant. So cold and snowy today I think I will go play in the closet. You may have to shovel off the deck if you want to go out to scream in your slippers.

    1. Thanks, Diane. I think that the relative weight and bulkiness of the jacket and sweater have to work together. It was trial and error for me until I found a couple of ones that worked.

  6. I love these looks! So casual elegant. And the colors are wonderful with your beautiful hair. I’ll see you at the Pub O’ Dream, even if I’m invisible;).

  7. I’m not very “fashionable and have never had much of an interest in it until lately … retired, older, graying … I think wearing a sweater on top of a coat or blazer looks a bit silly and too contrived. Maybe it’s I have a very small wardrobe and can’t find the right mix of jacket and sweater. And the mechanics. I’m trying not to overthink it but, you take off the sweater with the coat. Then maybe you put on the sweater on in the middle of the pub? You take it off to put your coat back on and then put the sweater over it again in the middle of the pub? A lot of fuss. You look so fabulous it’s worth it to me to keep trying.

    1. I think that if I were wearing my heavy jacket or coat, I’d take off both sweater and coat the same as I would a scarf and coat. Then if I’m cool I’d put on the sweater. But I would make sure that the coat fit over the sweater as well as under to avoid too much messing around like you say. I think of the sweater like a scarf with arms. 🙂

  8. Thank you for the style inspiration – and the smiles thinking about being out with girlfriends at a little pub with a band that plays all our favorite songs.

  9. Aww the pub! Have you ever been to the one in Ashton? It’s wonderful! I am not on board with the sweater over blazer/coat maybe because I am 5’1” and inclined to have poor posture. I am afraid this look will make me look like Charles Loughton in the Hunchback of Norte Dame…or a troll. No if I need extra warmth I wear a blanket scarf that can double as a shawl or a cashmere wrap that doubles as a scarf. My SIL is obsessed with cashmere ponchos that button up the side so they easily convert from scarf to wrap. She gave me one a couple years ago having taken three to Europe on vacation where they did yeoman duty. She buys them at a boutique in Oakville.
    Love those pants!,

    1. I have been to the Ashton Pub… just last summer in fact. A friend recently moved to Ashton. I think a blanket scarf is a good layering piece as well. I’m not a fan of ponchos for myself, but I’ve seen Linda Wright on Instagram wear her cashmere ponchos and twist them into a scarf so easily.

  10. I really enjoyed her video and how creative! I think you’re on to something and I like it. Plus, I’d love to hire her!!!
    Pub night…I would to loved to attend. Another get together would be awesome.

  11. Can hardly wait to join you at the pub! Winter layering is definitely a necessity here on the prairie right now. It was -38ºC when we got up this morning and it’s supposed to stay beastly cold for several more days. 🙁

  12. Quick ps. I finally got to watch the Allison Bernstein video. Thanks so much for the link, Sue. I feel you’ve mentioned her before but I haven’t followed up. She’s excellent… such an easy manner and so relatable. Although much younger than me and more glamorous, her suggestions are very wearable by any age, I think. Some really great ideas! I’ll definitely watch more of her videos … “off down the rabbit hole” 😂Thanks again xx

  13. I love the purple on you, Sue. I have a new love relationship with anything purple, lavender etc. I think it is really flattering with our white hair!

  14. Well as we are, again, having quite cold temperatures in the north of France (well low temperatures for us that is, of course) layering is a must! And when I was younger with true cold winters, we children all had layers on.
    But I have always done layers, it’s just well obvious for us.
    For example a merino wool turtleneck jumper under a v neck cashmere jumper (yes I am a cold one) with a tee shirt under the merino wool jumper.
    I also very often wear a jacket under my coats, even if I am not working: I like the way it looks, it brings more heat and I have a large collection of jackets and blazers, for all seasons.
    I also sometimes wear a light down jacket, a “regular” jacket AND a coat. Granted, all my coats do allow some room to get something under, but I think that’s common.
    Wear a jumper as a scarf, well yes, why not. But I have so many scarves that don’t do it often. But you’re right thought as this adds something new to an outfit.
    Here many people still use public transportations (that is out of pandemic times of course!!) so we use to walk to and fro: this means that ones need some layers to get out. Of course, there are also plenty of people using their cars.
    I don’t drive, so I enjoy my layers, my jumpers, my jackets, my coats! This is especially useful with sleeveless dresses under which a turtleneck is welcome (polo neck i think?).
    I like very much the outfit with the long coat which looks very good on you but I agree, a jumper as a scarf with it looks a bit .. weird?
    I will try to take a picture of one of my outfits with layers, afraid I have only me to rely to take photo. Let’s see what I can manage to do (tip: nothing good I’m afraid!!).

  15. Lots of good ideas here. I watched Allison’s video and then jumped over to see Linda Wright’s cashmere shop. My husband and I are actually going on an outing next week, an overnight stay in Santa Barbara with visits to wineries. We go during the week when there is hardly anyone there. The wineries are very good about sanitizing, masking and social distancing. The weather will be 66 degrees in the daytime so a cardigan or light jacket and scarves should do the trick. We’ll have received our second Covid vaccine by then. I am excited about packing for our little trip. You look wonderful in the purple sweaters. I find that if I wear too much white near my face I looked washed out with my silver hair. I need some contrast or color to set it off. When I was brunette white looked great. I just have to rework some combinations.

  16. Loved everything about this.Do you have any other utube vloggers you suggest to help with wardrobe ideas?

    1. I like Emma Hill a lot. And Canadian slow-fashion devotee Alyssa Beltempo. And some of the younger ones like Lydia Tomlinson are good for inspiration. Some of the ladies who read my blog like Audrey Coyne. She has great style, and seems like a lovely person, but to be perfectly honest, I find her voice annoying and can’t listen to her for long. That sounds terrible, I know. 🙂

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