Lesson in Layering: Hot, er, Cold Damn

Staying cool is chiefly about actively electing not to freeze


A lesson in preparation for when winter *actually* hits. For lessons in finding an outfit that goes from work to holiday party, click here.

And we’re back.

After a grueling, near Arctic week-and-end and the subsequent, seedless, unwarranted assurance from the dream shatterers that are weather forecasters that this cold front is setting up steady shop, it is time to suggest — nay demand — that you forfeit your sweatpants, boots and your multiple, fecklessly 5-syllabled ‘But It’s Coo-oooll-dddd’ attitude to show the atmospheric conditions what you’re really made of: a selection of theatrical layers.

I’ll help get you started — one does not expect a hibernating automobile to operate on demand — with a Lesson in Layering that will build itself by breaking down the sheets of cloth ye shall use to cloak your glacial limbs.

You’ll start with a thin turtleneck — ribbing optional — that will allow for multiple over-layers. Because I’ve been on a neckerchief kick, this is an especially timely layer as it will create the illusion-plus-body that I am in fact still working to become Katharine Hepburn. Which I am. Add a pair of leather or not (synthethic fiber, shmynthetic shmiber) pants that will forbid your legs from catching wind (get it?) of the true clime but that will also make half-tucking easy (drop crotch: 1, Fupa: 2).

Foundation blocks on, the building starts.

Add a plaid shirt. It can be flannel if you’d like but mine is cotton. I’d suggest a white base because you don’t know this yet but you’re about to cloak said flannel with a solid grey sweater. Not before adding a pair of ankle socks, though. So, add a black pair of ankle socks. (We’re now at Step 4.)

While you may have believed the socks to be a sensible layer, they are actually that which will help your starkest white (or brightest! Favorite? Whatever!) pumps create an ocularly blaring contrast. And isn’t it great that the slightest sliver of your leg still shows?

Once you’ve done that, you can start playing the festoon game. In lieu of a neck scarf, I suggest a choker to wear over the turtleneck portion of your outfit and because you are not a gladiator but really want to be one, you should think about wearing gold cuffs (TomTom, Alexis Bittar) on both yours wrists.

Tell people that Russell Crowe is your dad.

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to add a coat because even though I don’t like pouring superfluous dressing over my salad, much worse than an accidental cruciferous vegetable-flavored soup is the hypothetical sequence where I get sick and can’t breathe and sleeping becomes a chore, etc, etc. (That was a metaphor, text me if you’re confused.)

I like to think we are a camp of good compromisers, though, so only button that top button of your coat, pop your collar like you’re a kid from Maine who just moved to the Big Apple and let humanity marvel in the demiurgic masterstroke that is your guise.

Turtleneck by Vanessa Bruno, pants by Helmut Lang, plaid shirt by Club Monaco, sweater by Uniqlo, socks by Falke, pumps by Manolo Blahnik, choker by Monica Sordo, coat by Acne.

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  • Christina Storm

    Love this! Thanks for the tips!

    The Style Storm
    <3, Christina

  • Dressing in Labels

    Thanks, this is such a great article! I always have a hard time with outfits which are multi layered. I really love the jewelry!

    x Karen

  • G

    Love love love the lessons in layering posts:)


    Totally love this and totally missed this !!!;)


  • Chloe

    I do so love you. All my favourite articles of clothing as one.

  • Viktoria Tzvetanova

    What a nice and easy way to layered. The pumps are really unusual choice for this cold weather but with that coat and everything under it, they’re justified. Love it.

  • Kristine

    More of this please, Love it!

  • Oliver Lips

    Layering like a Pro!

  • CDJ

    i think being on day 3 of a 101º temperature may cause me to purchase all of those coats.

    also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4lNcFiIEwU

  • Dressing for these New England climes and not looking ridiculous is a true task indeed. But let’s be honest Leeandra, you aren’t going anywhere (that requires more than walking a few feet or two) in those pumps. You need some lug soled high heel hiking boots.


  • This is much appreciated, especially for a novice in winter wear like me, having been living in a tropical country my whole life. Thank you!


    • ANDREA

      Don’t even try to go out in the snow with those shoes Lydia.

  • Layering can be so creative. Love your addition of jewelry on top of aaaalll that! In Greece we say you are dressed like an onion. A pretty onion I may add!




  • Natali

    Perfectly layered outfit! You always inspire me!


  • Bella

    Killed it once again. Perfect tips for a Canadian girl like myself.


  • Malo

    Hi, many Greetings from Munich in Germany! To read you site makes me happy! Thanks 🙂

  • reversecommuter

    Leather pants = happiness in the arctic blast but those cuffs are bananas good!
    HNY! xo reversecommuter

  • mageeski

    Adore this! Emily | PENNY RUGBURN

  • runway2street

    If I had to pick a favorite of your posts …it has to be these layering ones! Perfect.

  • B.

    “Though I don’t like pouring superfluous dressing over my salad” Leandra, you brilliant mind you. I’ve missed the lessons in layering this was everything I needed and more this glorious(ly miserable) Monday morning.


  • Zoe

    ah I feel so liberated, snow day at my school today, but this post has encouraged me to head out and enjoy the weather in style! live long, onion on… (former post? might have mentioned onions and layers? I don’t know) x thecasualfreestyle.blogspot.com

  • Brie

    lesson in layering is in my top three favorite things about your blog. your layering genius can’t be tamed. did miley see what i did there?

  • Love this outfit, Leandra! So much respect for those who can endure the cold in a pump. I’m, then, learning from the best. You woke up flawless, L. Medine.

  • Hilarious! Love this, thanks for the layering step-by-step! 😉

  • Quinn Halman

    Like everything else about this outfit, the pump/sock combo is great, but what happens if I want to go outside?

    • Leandra Medine

      I think traditionally what you would do is turn the nob on a door that separates the inside from the public domain and then lift your legs slightly and repeatedly until they’re out of the inside

      • Quinn Halman

        TO CLARIFY: I meant what shoes would you wear

  • Ah this post is amazing!!! Gotta go play with layering like right now. 🙂

  • Mrs Trendy

    I love layering close when it’s cold outside, and that’s a great way to do it ! Perfect colours combo, grey burgundy white ant that touch of gold to enlighten it all… Perfect!


  • rachel

    These layering posts have always been my favorite! http://WWW.SADIERAEANDCO.COM

  • isaobeso

    I missed this layering editions!! it’s great that you have them back.

    visit me at http://www.peoplewearfashion.com

  • Yarra Magazine

    Loved this post! I heart layering. http://www.yarramag.com

  • Sylvie

    If it’s that cold, how can you stand the bare skin between the bottom of the pants and the socks. I always wonder about that?

  • Absolutely love your layering! It’s perfect for the cold (and gee, do you look scary in that last picture! -_- )

    Mafalda ❤

  • Alexandra

    Literally no one layers like Leandra.( Also, just finished your book… you have made me feel better about several different things in my life) Thank you!!


  • I just did a post on plaid and checkered pieces. The great thing about them is they can be super casual but also layered in a super preppy way.


  • Casey


  • This might work in the -20’s we’ve been having today. I’m not sold on the shoes (I’ve been rocking a pretty hefty pair of olive green rain boots lately), but the rest sounds pretty damn cozy right now!

  • Estela Ujka

    I do admire your way of expressing your self and i respect your art but sometimes i have this feeling your outfits are more oriented to be provocative than to feel hotter .I intend of your match of white heels with black socks.

  • Kiri Yanchenko

    Great post! I am totally coming back to this when I need it in our winter. I love your step by step photos and I must admit I came here because I loved your photo with the gold accessories! Love the cuffs and choker!

  • Expert layering. Definitely going to have to do the turtleneck, button-up, sweater combo tomorrow. It’s freakishly cold up here in Manitoba.


  • Tiffany Elam

    OMG, I love this post! I always feel so constricted in layers, but these light ones are great!

  • Johanne Desir

    Your layering lessons are why I initially began to follow your blog like a year ago and also your pure witty personality, you layer like no other, great post!
    – thepopularsociety.com

  • Mallory

    Always love the onion lessons 🙂


  • the coattail effect

    that smile will surely keep the cold at bay 🙂

    • zoe_whip

      And the men away! LMFAO

  • pauline

    So chic yet warm… but with the rolled up sleeves, you wrists would be exposed to the cold 😀

  • monkeyshines

    absolutely brilliant!


  • Alison

    Ruddy love it! Pity it’s a million degrees in Australia and I can’t try this out for another 6 months 🙁


  • Ruta

    Brilliant!!!!! I love the jewelry, I never know how to put on jewelry with my layers… I wanted to ask you something as a fashion blogger, sometimes I feel like I am the only one who seems to care about it, does it ever matter to you whether your clothes are made out of natural materials?

  • Monica Garcia

    you f*cking did it !

  • Kay & Way

    I always find layering pretty hard to pull off. I get hot walking about, so I have to take a layer off. 10 mins later I need the layer back on! Your tips sound good. Will try them out!

  • Love a classic turtleneck… So chic! http://www.lezu.com

  • A. Metz

    Love. Made me laugh. xo

  • Veronica Bonilla

    Love this, thanks for the idea. You’re the best



  • The idea is really wonderful. These light layers will keep
    the warmth. And not like heavy coats you need to keep carrying on.

  • sarah

    i’ll tell them Russell is my brother….he’s really not old enough to be my dad, in fact he may be younger than me…yes Leandra, older ladies read your blog too!! i love this lesson, it’s warm here right now ( i come from Russell’s old neighbourhood too coincidentally), and i’m really looking forward to loading up this look 😉

  • ymy

    The most brilliant layerist to have walked the earth, BUT this is not going to keep you warm in sub-zero icy-slick weather!!!

  • London Lady

    Leandra, love your blog, your style, your humour. I’ve been dreaming about a choker I saw you in: an open choker of small gold, baubles that kind of wrapped around your neck. I can’t seem to find which post it was in. Any ideas where I could get something similar? Much appreciated!

    • Leandra Medine

      Hey! That choker is by a New York based designer called Paula Mendoza

  • Sarah


  • deb

    Love this article and the outfit. Thanks.