layering, a ModCloth challenge

ModCloth invited some bloggers to talk about fall/winter layering, prompting us to choose three items (tops, from them) and explain the selection. I like this kind of style challenge, where some aspect or another is limited, controlled. The challenge for me was that so many of their tops are prints of some kind and working with multiple prints can be difficult. They are thin on basics, too, as it’s not what they do (they do cute, often retro-inspired statement pieces). So!

idea 1: sandwiched plaid

I like to keep things clean, usually, meaning solid, meaning no prints, but now and then I’ll go for one. An easy way to deal with a print, even a dramatic one, is to break it up, sandwich it between two solids. Ideally, for me, between muted and harmonious solids.

Something like this basic plaid buttoned shirt


between this sweetheart mock turtleneck sleeveless number (I like a button down with a turtleneck, and this one, sort of sheer/formal, would be appealingly strange, unexpected next to informal plaid), the color pulled from a minor note of the plaid pattern,


and this slouchy grey (read: neutral) cardigan, with really any kind of belt thrown over the whole affair, and none of the buttons done up on the shirt. A lot of colors could work here, and they have tons of sweaters.


OK, so this is a tame approach (or some might say chic! Some might say sophisticated!), but pretty foolproof. There is also

idea 2: inverse pattern juxtaposition

By which I mean some simple camisole base like this


layered with a (more or less) two tone pattern with one color dominant, like this geometric cardigan,

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layered with another two tone pattern, this one with the color that is non-dominant in the other pattern now dominant, like this other geometric cardigan (not ideal b/c white vs cream, but you see what I mean, and I often like white and cream together anyway).


If you live somewhere sufficiently cold, you know two cardigans are not unheard of. Maybe no belt on this one. Or maybe a really pale tan leather braided belt.

Just a solid color in the middle would be good there, too. Like this.


Layering gets easier and easier with experimentation as you discover what you like and begin to establish strategies to achieve it. Often your wardrobe works for you as you are often drawn to the same colors (not hard to find harmonious combinations) and, even if you prefer patterns, often prefer the same kinds of patterns. Then, too, it’s good to be open to unexpected combinations.

Imagine three layers, all plaids with some common stripe…I would like to see that. Or imagine three very different patterns, all with the same dominant color. Or three identical patterns in three different colors. Or two, with a solid between them, or three beautifully complementary solids…

This is to say nothing of accessories.

images via

rosy lips


I was pawing through the lip balms recently and realized that the rose-heavy pattern I noticed previously is going strong, and expanding. This is what my patterns of interest and preference are like, they tend to run long and deep, playing out over months or years. I don’t mind repetition, either. I still haven’t gotten sick of this Fitz and the Tantrums track.

I use and enjoy all of these, special mentions to Smith’s Minted Rose, Dior Crème de Rose, and By Terry Baume de Rose.  These last two are the most expensive but also the most emollient. Right now my favorites are the Dior and the Smith’s Minted Rose and I switch up depending on if I want a cream vs an ointment texture. The By Terry is really nice but it’s a little too dear for me given that I like so many less expensive alternatives. That said…I kind of want to try one of the tinted versions of this Baume de Rose formula, the Nutri-Coleur line.

Also pictured:

Korres Wild Rose lip butter — beautiful deep red tinted balm, love this color

Smith’s Rosebud Salve — cult classic, the smell of this is attached to so many phases of my life that it triggers a complex nostalgia, in a good way

Jurlique Rose Love Balm — firm, wax-based, very nice light rose scent, not too glossy so it gives a very natural look to the lips

Vaseline rosy lips — sweet candied rose smell to this, but I like it, as I like plain Vaseline now and then. They totally get me with those teeny tubs. Gah! So cute.

organic Rose Petal Balm — this one is from a friend of the family in Maine but a number of etsy sellers (and indie beauty chemists all over) make essential oil infused balms like this, and I wouldn’t hesitate to try anything with this beeswax/jojoba/shea or cocoa butter base (though I know that my skin doesn’t have issues with any of the popular essential oils). Hard to go wrong.