5 Creative Layering Ideas for Summer Dresses

5 Creative Layering Ideas for Summer Dresses

Wear your cute summer dresses all year with these 5 creative layering ideas that are budget friendly & work for chilly days or warm winters!

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Despite its popularity this time of year, layering can be a tricky business.

Every year when new trends and styles come through, I’m always asking myself how can I make my current wardrobe go farther?

Since most of us don’t have endless budgets, we can all get excited about clothing items that expand our outfit options. And with some creative layering ideas, you can find yourself reworking different items in interesting and charming ways. Likewise, creating fun und unexpected combinations with the clothes already in your closet is the secret to feeling stylish and confident throughout the year.

Let’s Get Layering

Taking advantage of items that layer well will give you more options for not only wearing your summer dresses, but other items in your wardrobe as well. Of course, being mindful of how one item can play multiple roles in your closet over the year is one of the best ways to create a wardrobe that can be worked around to always feel new and fresh.


  1. Cropped Sweaters
  2. Tights
  3. Oversized Jackets and Coats
  4. Long Sleeve Fitted Tops and Turtlenecks
  5. Sheer Tops

Creatively layering with cold weather basics in your wardrobe can easily make your summer dresses wearable all year long.

Having fun with layering in the colder months allows your summer styles to have a new life, even when the temperatures drop. These ideas can also serve as a go-to for the transitional seasons so that you have plenty of options as the weather heats back up (or cools down). 

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Creative Layering Ideas for Summer Dresses

Sometimes, one of the most challenging aspects of getting dressed is making sure you’re being mindful of the weather. As spring approaches, many of us will find ourselves struggling with leaning into summer styles while the weather can still be temperamental. Thankfully, there are several wardrobe basics that make this process a whole lot easier, and below I’ve listed my main go-tos.


They work because: they hit at the small of your waist (typically) so they are kind to most proportions. 

Cropped sweaters have been all over 2020 and are still popular through 2021. They also feel like a fun response to the chunky/oversized sweaters that have taken up closet space in previous years. 

Instead of packing away your summer dresses, try layering cropped sweaters over them for an added bit of warmth. Start with sweaters in neutral colors like white, beige, black, and gray that will complement most other colors well. You can even add a wide belt with the sweater to cinch the waist even more.

Cropped Wrap Sweater

Thick Cropped Sweater

Cropped Cardigan


They work because: tights keep your legs warm while also allowing you to wear a dress, making your outfit feel cold weather appropriate.

Tights are a pretty obvious choice, but they are still worth noting. You can opt for tights in fun patterns and colors that will work well with your wardrobe. In addition, you can even find fleece-lined leggings and other options at varying degrees of warmth and thickness. Investing in a selection of tights that work well with the items currently in your wardrobe will certainly expand the wear options of summer dresses and skirts you already own.

Opaque Tights

Patterned Fishnet

Fleece Lined


They work because: An oversized jacket with a cute summer dress is an unexpected pairing that makes the outfit a little more interesting. 

Whether your love puffer styles, or sherpa-lined denim, an oversized jacket with a summer dress is an unexpected pairing that shows your style while also being mindful of warmth. For that reason, playing around with two opposing fits will help you create fun combinations that will turn heads and keep you feeling cute.

Shacket (Shirt Jacket)

Oversized Denim Jacket

Asymmetrical Puffer


They work because: Tight-fitting turtlenecks and long sleeve tops are a limitless wardrobe basic for the colder months and are ideal specifically for layering with warmer weather pieces. 

This look works especially well with warmer fall and winter nights that don’t necessarily require a coat but still need some coverage. There is an emphasis on a tighter fit, so these pieces won’t overwhelm your frame or add bulk.

In this case, a fitted mockneck is one of my favorite pieces to style and you can see how I layered it 3 different ways in this Instagram Reel.

A cropped fitted turtleneck or mockneck is the cold weather wardrobe staple that you didn’t know you needed. It pairs so well with different outfits you’ll be surprised at how many new and fun combinations you can make with your existing wardrobe. This is a creative layering idea that has given me so many options over the past year!

Cropped Fitted Turtleneck

Turtleneck Bodysuit

Flirty Mockneck Sweater


They work because: you still get the look of layering without too much added warmth, and you’re able to show a little skin.

While sheer tops aren’t ideal for holding in warmth, they make a summer dress feel more appropriate. This is the perfect choice if you’re going for a cold weather look but the temperatures don’t call for heavy layers. These tops are great for a subtle nod to fall and winter even if you live in a warmer area. See how I styled my favorite sheer sweatshirt for Maui here and here.

Long Sleeve Sheer Top

Long Sleeve Sheer Mockneck with Lettuce Hem

Sheer Puff Sleeve Bodysuit

Sweater: Topshop (similar) | Dress: Forever 21 (similar) | Chain Necklace: Target | Pearl Necklace: Urban Outfitters | Earrings: Urban Outfitters | Bag: Gucci (similar, similar) | Sneakers: Reebok | Socks: similar


  1. Cropped Sweaters
  2. Tights
  3. Oversized Jackets and Coats
  4. Long Sleeve Fitted Tops and Turtlenecks
  5. Sheer Tops

In short, the secret to good style is clever layering and pairing that suit your proportions and personal aesthetic. Give yourself the freedom to embrace these creative layering ideas to pair new and unexpected items for a look and feel that’s entirely your own. Not only will you have more options in your closet, but you might just be surprised at what you find!

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