I'm a Modest Dresser—Here's How I Master the Tricky Art of Layering

This obviously isn’t news to anyone, but layering is key when it comes to cold weather. It’ll keep you comfortable on the days where the weather just can’t seem to stay consistent, and if you prefer to dress modestly like me, it’ll help you adapt to current trends without stepping out of your comfort zone. As someone who layers year-round (yes, even in the summer!) I’d say you can basically consider me a professional at this point. But unlike how easy street-style stars and the outfits in your Instagram saved folder can make it seem, putting together a perfectly layered outfit can be a bit of a lengthy process. If you’re wondering how to make that process easier, then you’ve come to the right place. 

From implementing different styling tricks into my routine to trying on a variety of outfit formulas, it’s taken me a lot of research and a few fashion mishaps along the way to finally figure out the tricky art of layering. Below, I'll be sharing the seven tips I follow to master an outfit that caters to the balance of fashion and functionality. You’re welcome.

1. Invest in a collection of innerwear


(Image credit: @thatgirlyusra)

The best thing I ever did was start a collection of good quality undershirts, whether it be ribbed tops, turtlenecks, or solid colored long-sleeve tees. I love pairing them under a button-up or a dress to add another element to a once basic outfit. 

2. Embrace the tuck


(Image credit: @thatgirlyusra)

Whenever a layered outfit looks off, the first thing I try is tucking in my top and 99% of the time it makes the look so much more put-together. So much so that it’s almost unbearable for me to leave something untucked now.

3. Make your pieces work double-duty


(Image credit: @thatgirlyusra)

Try not to view your sweater as just a sweater, or your scarf as just a scarf. No, I’m not being fake-deep—I truly think a fashion item can be what you make of it. Throw your sweater over your shoulders as an accessory that you can layer on if you get cold later on, or tie a scarf and turn it into a wrap top to wear over a ribbed top. The possibilities are endless. 

4. Don't look at items from a seasonal point of view


(Image credit: @thatgirlyusra)

I used to store my clothing items by season, but I was quick to realize that I was unconsciously letting a whole wardrobe of pieces go to waste. That dress that you obsessively wore all summer? Throw a jacket or a vest over it to bring it into the colder months. 

5. Mixing textures add dimensions to a layered look


(Image credit: @thatgirlyusra)

Don’t be afraid to mix up the fabrics of your pieces. Whether it’s pairing leather with knitwear or a furry coat, it makes your layered outfit so much more interesting. 

6. Don't be afraid of the unexpected


(Image credit: @thatgirlyusra)

When people say rules are meant to be broken, I believe they’re talking about fashion rules. Wear jeans under a dress, a sweater under a strapless party dress… Thinking outside of the box has led me to some of my best outfits. 

7. Pay attention to the lengths of each item


(Image credit: @thatgirlyusra)

Not to say you can’t wear pieces of similar lengths, but it just makes it easier when you mix up highs and lows when it comes to each individual layer. This may seem like fashion basics, but it’s a tip that I swear by when I need an easy outfit in the morning. A cropped jacket looks so good paired with a loose silhouette, and the same goes with a longer coat and a top with a shorter hem. 

Associate Fashion Editor
Yusra Siddiqui is an editor who resides in New Jersey but bounces between the suburbs and NYC. (She's a Jersey girl at heart.) After interning at Who What Wear in 2019, she found her way to the team after graduating from LIM College in 2022 with a fashion media degree. She's also spent time writing and working for publications such as Fashionista, Coveteur, and Nylon, but she always knew that Who What Wear was where she was meant to be. When she's on the job, she's perusing runway shows, analyzing the latest thing fellow Gen Zers are up to on the internet, and sharing what she can about the modest-fashion market. You can also catch her dabbling in entertainment, talking about the costume choices of the latest Netflix series or diving deeper into how the plotline affects the viewers in a myriad of ways. Lastly, she likes to create content for Who What Wear's TikTok. Her personal time is spent doing similar but also different things—deep diving into almost every new TV show (Bridgerton, Gilmore Girls, and Stranger Things are favorites), planning her next local getaway (whenever that may be), and reading the latest Emily Henry or Sally Rooney novel in one sitting.