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Layers – the new looks this fall season

Valerie McPhail  

(11/2017) Never have I been one to set rules of fashion, or behave as the recipient who abidingly follows those set by the glossies, for that matter. Rather, in recent observations I have sensed a tension in the air, where the New York fashion scene struggles to offer the American market their practical needs. The industry buzzes around fresh faces and scandalized designs that reward artistic perspective and serve to entertain. This becomes a questionable concern, when after the rowdy week, fashionistas and market consumers are left to shop exhausted trends and overpriced denim for fall. This disconnect invades the city in conversations on the streets of Midtown Manhattan all the way into neighborhoods such as artist communities in Brooklyn to downtown Soho. It influences how we dress for work and for Thursday night happy hour, alike. In this confusing fashion climate, the weather too has created stress on the way people dress, constantly changing in fluctuating temperatures in the midst of the wavering perspectives on trends and styles the returning question "how am I supposed to dress," remains.

When it comes to style, the seasons have little influence over my habits. I am the one who dresses with discipline– once September 1st approaches; I pull out my sweaters and jeans in uniform. Despite that in the event we face an Indian summer I am forced without any other option but to accept the overwhelming heat as I wear an oversized wooly turtleneck sweater in the mid day blazing sunshine. I then face a rude awakening, like a splash of cold water to the face, bringing me to an uncomfortable reality.

The season’s leading question transpires in everyday life — in daily commutes, and honest conversations with friends — as she sheds the layer of her forest green military rain jacket, and comments on a question so familiar the sound rings in my ear. The difference between us is that she is bold enough to speak out about fashion, and I believe, in my adamant stylistic decisions, that I am making a sacrifice in the name of style. I’m starting to believe my stubborn nature, my perspective is the greater of two evils and I too consider how I can consider layering as a solution to ease a discomfort overcome by the season’s change.

Its first symptom is a faint feeling after the train doors close and the underground tunnels provoke a heat wave in the car and my commute becomes a dizzy. Once I exit, I feel precipitation gather upon my upper lip after bearing the morning’s breeze in a walk that seeks shelter at my destination. In this season, my outfit functions as armor, a set of clothing protecting me from the anticipated colder weather. As I put on this armor, my work commute has become a testimony to a journey leading in a lesson of layering. This has become a pattern in my life: when anytime before nine in the morning nothing deems more appropriate than a long sleeve dress, with tights that keep legs covered. But as the sun gloriously rises in an instant, no longer is there a need for the extra fabric that once was a necessity earlier that same morning.

This is why we need layers. Layering, a technique I return to not necessarily for the physical comfort, but more or less consistentcy for travel reasons: pack light, and comfortable. And I have found it forces me to have a good thought and consideration for the clothes in my closet, their function and how I am using them, and respecting their function. The more I understand my relationship to clothes, consider the reason for why I wear the clothes in my closet in the manner in which I wear them, I reminisce the seasons in which my reliance on layering was a benefit to how I relied on the clothes in my closet.

Layering was a response to the relationship among the different items of fashion. My answer to the concern is simple, how to dress in an erratic climate is to fashion summer and winter pieces together when creating an outfit. Mix and matching: pairing a skirt with a sweater and boots, layering a short sleeve underneath a full-length dress are fashionable ways to approach layering. New York City brand Mansur Gavriel succeeds the approach to layering with designs colored in calm baby blue and pink, a pea coat blankets a slip dress in one look and a fuzzy turtleneck sweater for Fall 2017. The tones were impactful in conjunction to the practical approach to styling high fashion presentations of clothing.

Los Angeles brand The GREAT is another example of practical approaches to layering. Designers Emily Current and Meritt Elliott – the duo behind Current Elliot Denim purposes "to create best friends for your clothes." A début in 2015, The GREAT celebrates a recent victory in their 2017 Fall Collection that too launched their capscle boot collection titled Boxcar Boot. For this season the GREAT fashioned a true fall look by the means of back to school style. Cozy sweaters paired with mix-matched printed skirt, and a casual striped cardigan with boyfriend fit jeans.

Truest to the statement, accessories and jackets, blazers and overcoats are pieces that add onto one’s outfit in equivalence to layering. Aside from the silk twill, cashmere and infinity scarves, there are items of clothing that can make layering an intentional piece to an outfit. These pieces are open knit sweater, oversized jumper, also referred to as pullovers and cardigans. They are all conventional designs that support layering.

To address the point quite frankly, I am a big fan of the cardigan. Although, I hardly feel it is a piece appropriate for my own wardrobe, I appreciate its look, and purpose as a layering piece. Dressy forms of the cardigan would bring out a preppy style – Comme de garçon and APC are brands that are naturally slim fitting creating a clean, sleek and proper look. Stylistically the look evokes librarian uniform, and Europe brands carry a preppier look radiating Europe’s cosmopolitan culture. It is a smart way to start to consider layering in fall.

For a more bohemian style, an oversized knitted is a more relaxed fit, knitted materials and baggier sizes warms the spirit, and feels almost like you’re wearing a blanket. Such was the piece I would cozy to literature class in college. Fashion labels such as Isabel Marant and Stella McCartney offer this chunky cardigan style in a matured relaxed look, viable to the cardigan.

There are other ways to approach fall layering without shopping a whole new wardrobe, such alternative ways than such offer a creative outlet. This perspective requires attention to the items hanging in your current closet, and allowing their function to expand beyond the season. In personal experience, I will layer baggy vintage graphic tee shirts over slim fitting long sleeved shirts. In a similar light, I have seen friends layer oversized tees over hooded sweatshirts; these are the most casual appearances of layering.

When the fall season starts to present itself among this Indian Summer, dressing for the time in between can be most uncomfortable – frigid mornings progress into sunny afternoons – making it difficult to dress for the day. As the fashion culture becomes progressively difficult to shop, finding purpose and greater function within the clothes stored in one’s dresser drawers and hanging in the closet have gained further value as they resource as pieces that layer. This too makes the conversation about fashion even more exciting!

Read other articles by Valerie McPhail