Don’t Like Your Clothes? Revitalize Them! (Part 4)

This is the fourth post in a series about how to tackle your wardrobe if you’re unhappy with your clothes – or just feel like you have nothing to wear.

In Part 1, we talked about giving yourself permission to cull your wardrobe, keep only the clothes you love, and identify a neutral skirt or pants that fit, flatter, complement your personality and suit your lifestyle.

In Part 2, we covered coordinating tops to wear with neutral skirts and pants.

In Part 3, we shared Commandress’ secret weapon: the dress!

In Part 4, we talked about

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Today’s post talks about how to add interest to your outfits (either a dress or a top paired with a skirt or pants) by layering with a sweater, jacket, blazer or similar covering.

The post includes examples of an everyday or casual layer, a layer to wear to work, and a layer that adds to your dressed up style.

What is the point of layering?

Practically speaking, layering helps keep you warm. More importantly for our sartorial quest to revitalize your wardrobe, layering adds a new and different dimension to an outfit. 

For example, you have grey pants and white top that look very flattering together when you try them on, but the outfit comprised of just those two pieces bores you. Add a coordinating cardigan sweater, jacket or blazer, and you have just enlivened your outfit!

“Wearing another layer – such as a cardigan sweater, blazer or jacket – makes an outfit look more polished and complete.”

 How to Add Layers to Your Everyday Style

As society has become increasingly casual in the past several decades, there is more reason for most of us to call casual style our everyday style. (Your life may be so casual that your primary style is your workout style – which Commandress will address in future posts.)

In a broad generalization, casual layers are going to be less structured than work layers. Certain fabrics, such as denim and knits, lend themselves to being more casual than other fabrics.

Anthropologie’s Banded Confetti Cardigan Sweater ($98) is a wonderful example of an everyday layer. It is beautiful, reviewers rave about its comfort, and it would add vitality to an outfit. This cardigan sweater would coordinate with a plethora of neutrals and colors so odds are it should coordinate well with many tops, bottoms and even dresses in your wardrobe.

Womens Colorful Cardigan Sweater from Anthropologie“By adding a layer you may change the original purpose of the layer or the look of the outfit.”

For example, wearing a structured jacket appropriate for work with jeans makes for a cute, everyday outfit. Alternatively, a seemingly casual jacket can become work appropriate as well.

Another example of an everyday layer is a trendy denim jacket!

How to Add Layers to Your Work Style

Jackets, blazers and sweaters suitable for work are usually more structured, and therefore, more fitted. Certain prints, such as houndstooth, and certain fabrics, such as tweed, will be more suitable for work than others. For examples of refined sweaters with work style, click here and here.

Tahari Arthur S. Levine’s Houndstooth Blazer in Black and White ($149 from Lord & Taylor, also available in Petite) is a great example of a layer with smart work style. The silhouette is fitted. For a work-appropriate jacket, this one has some flair with its notched collar and cuffs which adds a dash of panache. Compare it to Armani’s Geometric Woven Cardigan.

Womens Work Blazer Womans Jacket for Work

When layering, work style does not need to be devoid of color. In most offices, bold jackets would be entirely appropriate. Commandress has profiled many a bold hued jacket, blazer and sweater appropriate for work including this one, this one, and this one.

How to Add Layers to Your Dressed Up Style

Layering for special events is so much fun! With a special bolero, shrug, wrap or cape you will feel glamorous and your entrance will be eye-turning.

I love Alex Evenings’ Hanky Bolero ($48 from Nordstrom, click here for the Plus Size style)   It would look spectacular over the T. Tahari Valencia Fit & Flare Dress profiled in Part 3 of the series.

Hanky Bolero Special Event Jacket

Yes, when getting dressed up, layers become even more superfluous, but add to the festiveness of an outfit.

In the event you cannot visualize what a shrug looks like, click here to see a versatile one.

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In closing, your assignment is to try on each of your outfits with your jackets, cardigan sweaters, and blazers. Some tops/bottoms or dresses may not coordinate with every layer. Plan to only wear the layered ensembles that look great. The whole ensemble should work together as well as fit and flatter.

How many new ensembles can you create? Do you have the right number of ensembles for your everyday, work and dressed up styles? Are there any outfits you would like to augment with a layer? If so, either wear them or take them with you as you go shopping or have them by your side as you shop online.


Disclosure – this post contains affiliate links.

A Perfect Summer Sweater – Bloomingdale’s Endless Summer Sale

Last month when I was visiting Abigail in Atlanta, we visited Bloomindales and admired Phase Eight – a clothing line new to us. Bloomingdales’ Endless Summer Sale is going on now through Sunday, August 8th, and a Phase Eight sweater I admired is on sale.

Phase Eight’s Sakura Floral Knit Print Sweater has a cherry blossom motif I love. (Sale: $98, Original: $140) Cherry blossoms are so fleeting, why not prolong their beauty with this vibrant cotton sweater?

Womens Top on Sale Summer Sweater Sale Cherry Blossom Sweater

To see all of Phase Eight’s line, click here.

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Bloomingdales has many pieces on sale that would coordinate well with the sweater. It would look great with dark jeans, black pants, or white leggings. I like the idea of wedge sandals in either white or black. Some circle drop earrings would compliment the cherry blossom motif and a crossbody handbag would polish the outfit off perfectly.

Seeing the sweater again made me wonder what other clothing is out there sporting cherry blossoms. For an edgier look, take a look at this awesome cherry blossom embroidered sweatshirt. There is also a charming cherry blossom sheath dress, pretty tee, and lovely earrings and necklace set.

I will be posting collages of the Bloomingdale sale items as well as the cherry blossom finds on Instagram, so be sure you are  following @CommandressBlog and @amy_schwarzenbach.


Disclosure – this post contains affiliate links.

Class It Up – Timeless Investment Pieces by Eileen Fisher

In the Commandress feature Class It Up, contributor Amy (Bergsma) Schwarzenbach shares ideas for taking your wardrobe to the next level.

When it’s time to add easy wear, high-quality, and timeless pieces to your wardrobe, Eileen Fisher should be a contender as your brand of choice. Few designers equal Eileen Fisher’s understated sophistication and ability to flatter the feminine figure.

The icing on the cake is the brand’s pretty palette of colors – some bright, some neutral – from which to choose. Here’s a sample of denim, sea breeze, pale aqua and white.

Eileen Fisher Spring Colors - seaside blues - denim, sea breeze, pale aqua & white #commandress

The fastest and easiest way to freshen up your wardrobe is a new top. This spring, there are a number of Eileen Fisher Tops, Cardigans, and Shells that should appeal to women who eschew fads and love versatility. These tops will take you from the office to a weekend lunch to a neighborhood meeting,

My personal favorite is this Eileen Fisher Organic Linen Drape-Neck Top shown in Dewberry. The detail around the neckline is delicious. The top’s long sleeves will keep you warm, but the fine gauge knit is light enough to remain comfortable as the temperature warms up ($158.00 in multiple colors from Neiman Marcus; also available in petite).

Eileen Fisher Organic Linen Drape-Neck Top in Dewberry - spring wardrobe updates #commandressAnother flattering look is the scoop neck Eileen Fisher Organic Linen Flutter Top shown in Denim and Handloomed Color Fade Scarf shown in Darkest Seabreeze ($218 and $98 from Neiman Marcus; additional colors available).

Eileen Fisher Organic Linen Flutter Top in Denim & Handloomed Color Fade Scarf in Darkest Seabreeze - spring wardrobe updates #commandressLayering a cardigan and shell is an excellent look that goes far. I love the drapey silhouette of the ribbed knit Eileen Fisher Long Angled Linen-Blend Cardigan paired with the Sleeveless Linen-Blend Shell – both shown in Black and Dewberry below ($268 and $158 in multiple colors from Neiman Marcus; also available in plus and petite).

Eileen Fisher Long Angled Linen-Blend Cardigan & Sleeveless Linen-Blend Shell - spring wardrobe updates #commandress


Eileen Fisher Long Angled Linen-Blend Cardigan, Sleeveless Linen-Blend Shell & Karate Cropped Silk Pants - spring wardrobe updates #commandress

Finally, the knit fabric of Eileen Fisher’s 3/4 – Sleeve Organic Linen/Cotton Box Top shown in Gingerpink is just deliciously soft like your favorite pajamas – only better because you can wear it all day long ($158 from Neiman Marcus; additional colors available).

Eileen Fisher’s 3/4 – Sleeve Organic Linen/Cotton Box Top in Gingerpink - spring wardrobe updates #commandress

Disclosure – this post includes affiliate links for Neiman Marcus.