Fashion: Advice on luxe-looking layers

As thoughts finally turn to dressing up properly for the season, Stephanie Smith has advice on luxe-looking layers.

Jersey jumpsuit, £27; cardigan from, selection, at Phase Eight.
Jersey jumpsuit, £27; cardigan from, selection, at Phase Eight.

Luxury doesn’t come for free, but it needn’t cost the earth either.

One of the most gratifying autumn/winter catwalk trends for luxe lovers has been the emergence of knitwear as an trend in itself, a sophisticated theme to pursue for its own sake, not just as a necessary accompaniment to go with other fashion staples and separates.

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Head-to-toe dressing in knitwear has therefore become “a thing”, although perhaps not one that we have had much opportunity to investigate so far this year, the climate having been unusually temperate for a British autumn. But, we’ll be there soon, and when we are plunged into deepest winter, we’ll all be grateful that fashion has, for once, come to the rescue with a trend that actually works on a practical, as well as an aesthetic, level.

Cream jacket, £69; jumper, £99; skirt, £28. All M&S Collection.

Layering, as ever, is key. By the way, this isn’t just about the knits, far from it, because jersey, modal, flannel and brushed cotton all play important layering roles, alongside the woollens and cashmeres.

Wool coats are a good starting point, especially if you feel the need to splash out on an investment. The best in terms of all-round practicality for the season are lightweight, tailored and minimalist, especially in a pale blue, a dove grey or a winter white. Quite simply, you can’t go wrong. Collars are big news for this autumn, especially opulent same colour (as coat) faux fur ones, but you can easily add your own if you buy a faux fur collar to match, and then you’ve got a coat that works for far more of the year. Wrap styles, unfinished hems and woollen felted looks all get the luxe treatment for this season and offer the benefits of cosiness with a cooler edge.

Back to layering (which is key). Tonal layering is what it’s all about for this year so pick a shade (grey, white/cream, caramel and taupe) and play about with it, teaming, say, a dove grey knitted skirt with mid grey knitted tunic top, or jumper, or jersey cowl-neck long-sleeve top, then add longline jersey or knitted cardigan in another shade of grey. You’re looking to achieve a multi-tonal, multi-textured, head-to-toe outfit in rich but gentle shades of grey. The softer and more luxurious the fabric, the better the effect.

Grey, in particular, works well with a touch of sparkle, so look out for pieces with sequins, gemstones and shine sewn in, about the neck or towards the bottom of the sleeves, for a subtle, wintery glisten as we move towards the festive season.

T Luxury wrap coat, £350, at Jigsaw.

For inspiration on white and cream tonal luxe layering for this season, take a look at what Victoria Beckham has served up for this season, teaming creamy-white, tailored wool, below-the-knee skirts, fitted at the hip but with movement from the thigh, teamed with sumptuous roll-neck creamy-white sweaters, finished off with caramel leather calf-high heeled boots.

Look out for fine-knit leggings and joggers in cashmere and stretch jersey, to layer with same or similar colour and fabric tunic tops and finish with a light but luxurious parka-style cardigan (see Pure Collection for its luxe cashmere parka, part of its lovely cashmere loungewear range).

A word on behalf of the jumpsuit too. Invest in a well-made jersey one in a rich neutral, and you will find yourself with a fabulous variety of outfits, all using the same garment as foundation, simply by layering over and under. It’s a Tardis piece, with so much more to it than you realise.