Layering Ideas For Transitional Weather

After I published my post on wearing tights with open-toed shoes, Ingrid emailed me again and said:

"Thank you for taking the time and effort in responding to my question. Do you think you can do more postings on layering in the future? I'm lost at times in knowing what to layer in this kind of 10 degree weather. Thank you once again!"

Ingrid, I'm with you on this one. In-between weather always confounds me. It's not quite spring but it's mild outside; it's not quite winter but the temperature can turn chilly on a dime. It can go from sunny to drizzling to downright freezing in a single day.

To deal with this transitional weather, my most recent layered looks rely heavily on:

  • Lightweight wool jackets and coats
  • Arm warmers and fingerless gloves
  • Jeans
  • Cardigans and lightweight pullover sweaters
  • 3/4 sleeve tops
When combined, these items give you tons of body temperature adjustment options. You can wear everything when it's cold outside, take off the arm warmers when you're indoors, or remove the cardigan if you find yourself overheating.

With the magic of Polyvore, I whipped up a few outfits (very) loosely based on my own wardrobe to illustrate how versatile these items can be when worn together.

10 degree weather layering look 2

Look #1 features a 3/4 sleeve tee, a sleeveless cardigan, and hot pink arm warmers. (I don't have hot pink arm warmers...yet.) Although this outfit mostly uses neutrals, I think the pops of pink and green, combined with the beige, white, and gray, keep things on the light side. Toasty yet spring-like.

10 degree weather layering look 4

Look #2 comes pretty close to what I have on as I'm writing this post, except that I don't own any Hello Kitty earrings and I added those just for fun. I love layering white tees under an embellished tank top. If you remove the cardigan and go around in short sleeves, you never feel quite as chilly as you would if you were wearing just a tee or tank, and it looks so much more interesting. You can button the cardigan up or wear it unbuttoned if you need something to keep your arms from getting cold. Top it off with a belted trench or a lightweight wool coat.

10 degree weather layering look 1

Look #3 is perfect for looking pulled-together when you're running errands or off to meet a girlfriend for an afternoon matinee. (Confession: It's a bit of a go-to look for me when I'm in a hurry.) Wear the jacket fully buttoned and the fingerless gloves if the weather suddenly turns cold outside. The cotton striped sweater is long-sleeved and lightweight, meaning that it'll keep you just warm enough. Like Look #1, this outfit relies on pattern (stripes, the patterned flats) and a pop of colour (tomato red) to lighten up the neutrals.

10 degree layering look 3

So far I've featured looks that revolve around jeans, but what do you do when you want to don a dress or skirt? Look #4 shows how it can be done. A knee-length coat in a lightweight wool fabrication, leggings, and tall leather boots keep legs warm if it starts to get windy. A red sweater dress with short sleeves is tolerable if it's warm; if it's cold, add a scarf and some fingerless gloves (or black arm warmers) to take the chill off. The statement necklace adds a bit of visual interest if you decide to forego the scarf.

Ingrid, I hope you found this post helpful! To my lovely readers, do you have any favourite layering strategies or items you swear by for transitional winter-to-spring weather?

Update: At the time I finished this post and published it, it was snowing. What gives, Mother Nature?!


  1. I seriously needed this, Lisa. I am just about out of layering ideas and desperate for warmth. Thanks for a dose of inspiration!

  2. Nice post! I really want to get myself some arm warmers and fingerless gloves! Yours are really nice! I don't think I'd take them off indoors but wrap myself in the coziness all day.

  3. Totally agree! Fabulous collages . . . my fave parts are the fingerless gloves; perfect transitional pieces!


  4. Argh I have to get me some arm warmers! They look so cute, along with the fingerless gloves in these outfits. I especially love outfit #2 and 3.

  5. I love your post. Nice ideas. I will definitely look thwm up when I am dressing up next time. Thanks, Lisa.

  6. I am really really REALLY bad at layering, and generally just give up between seasons. So this is super-helpful! :)

  7. Wow! A girl I know has the exact same jacket (the red double breasted one)! First time I've ever seen it anywhere except on her.

    Very helpful post.

  8. Rosie, I don't have that exact jacket, but I do have one that's tomato red with black buttons. I wear it quite often. :)

  9. cute outfits! great post lisa :)

  10. Great polys, love the hints of red and pink. :-)

  11. i like all the looks you put together specially with the added punch of color in every set.

  12. with all this crazy warm then cold weather...the layering is KEY! thanks for all the great ideas :)

  13. love look #3 - great work! :)

  14. love the pops of bright pink in the first two. Must track down that nailpolish!!

  15. Amazing post! I am always layering as well, since NYC weather is nutts and most of the time is cold, but hey Spring is almost here :)

  16. Great article! I live in layers all year long here in San Francisco. It can get really warm and then super chilly so quickly and depending on where I am in the area. I love Look #1 and that adorable sweater ("sweater vest" sounds super dorky so I'll just call it a sweater). A friend of mine wears a down vest nearly all the time. It keeps her really warm but not overly so. I think I'm gonna have to track down one for myself. :)

  17. I'll take it all - especially the hot pink arm warmers and Hello Kitty earrings.

  18. This is such a great post! =) It really shows the importance of a great coat. Somehow you could be wearing something really simple inside but with a well cut and sleek coat thrown on with a scarf and beret, the outfit can totally work. I wish I were staying in someplace cold! >< I'd totally apply all your gems of advice.

    Heh I like how you added those little interesting things into your polyvore sets like the hot pink arm warmers and hello kitty earrings. That's what's so great about your style! You totally personalize it.

    Thanks so much for sending the package! =) Will let my aunt and uncle know about it. Really looking forward to receiving it eventually haha.

  19. Btw thanks for your advice about google analytics ;p just installed it so i shall see if it works haha. anything thing to distract me from work!

  20. great post! i love how you mix things up!

  21. I love all these looks, Lisa! We tend to layer a lot like this in Atlanta (because the weather never gets bitterly cold). I love all your tutorial posts- they are brilliant and much appreciated ;)

  22. Cute layering ideas. You an Ingrid are gonna be best buds soon.
    P.S. About the ancients not seeing blue--most scientists think they saw it, but didn't value the color. It is a hard pigment to produce and they used the same words for red and blue--so when they described the sky and water it would appear they were referring to red items...


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