Best Sweaters for Layering

Autumn’s arrival brings glorious colors as the leaves change and apples ripen on the trees. But the season is also known for its changeable temperatures. A morning can start out cool and warm significantly as the day progresses, only for temperatures to again drop as the sun goes down. Winter, of course, brings even cooler temperatures outside, and if you’re trying to conserve energy, you might keep your thermostat set low. The best way to adapt to the shifts in temperature or to stay warm throughout the cooler days is to layer clothing.

Layering serves a couple of purposes. First, layers help to trap the air heated by your body, thereby helping you to stay warm. Second, layers make it easy to add or remove clothing if you’re feeling too cold or too hot. When it comes to layering, sweaters almost always play a role. However, the tricky part is figuring out which sweater to choose. Read on to discover the best sweaters for layering.

Pullover Sweater

A pullover wool sweater layered over a women’s cotton turtleneck is a classic look for a reason. It’s simple, easy to put together, and looks good paired with everything from chinos and loafers to jeans and riding boots. The turtleneck helps protect your skin from the wool, which, while keeping you warm, can also be scratchy. Choose a print turtleneck with a seasonal design—think leaves, snowflakes, or pine trees, for example—and wear it under a crewneck or V-neck sweater that picks up a color from the underlayer. Or, go the reverse, and wear a complementary turtleneck under a patterned sweater. Choose a cheery stripe to brighten up a gloomy day or an intricate Fair Isle design for interest.

Some people find that a turtleneck is too constricting. If that’s the case, switch it out for a mock turtleneck, which is usually looser around the neck and does not sit as high up on it. Either way, you’ll be cozy and warm. If you get too warm, just peel off your sweater and tie it around your waist or throw it over the back of a chair until you need it again.

In addition to layering something under a pullover, you can also layer something over the sweater. A pullover is your go-to sweater for wearing under a vest, which gives you extra warmth when you need it without the weight of a jacket. If you are heading outdoors and the temperatures are cool, stuff a pair of gloves into the vest pockets just in case.

Turtleneck Sweater

If you want extra warmth without having to add additional layers, swap out your cotton turtleneck for a cashmere turtleneck sweater. Cashmere is super-soft wool that is comfortable enough to wear directly against your skin. If you’d rather show off your cashmere instead of hiding it under a pullover, layer your turtleneck under a blazer; throw on a pencil skirt or dress pants and some heels, and you’re ready to go from the office to dinner at an upscale restaurant. Or, for a more casual look, change out the blazer and bottoms for a leather or denim jacket and a pair of wide-leg jeans.

Fleece Sweater

Having a lazy day and hanging around the house while doing as little as possible? You’ll want to dress for the occasion. While this may mean loungewear for most people, if you’re one of those rare folks who’d find sweats uncomfortable, have no fear. Try switching out your sweatshirt for a women’s fleece jacket or fleece pullover. Layer it over your favorite T-shirt, and you’ll be feeling snug and comfy as you curl up on the couch with a cup of something hot, ready to watch your favorite movie for the umpteenth time.

Cardigan Sweater

No discussion of the best sweaters for layering is complete without mentioning cardigan sweaters. Cardigans come in various styles—with or without buttons, crewneck or shawl collar, and so forth—and lengths, but they are all open in the front. So, if you want to wear your favorite T-shirt on your weekend morning stroll through the farmers market and it’s cool outside, throw a cardigan over your top, and you’re ready to hunt down some locally grown fruits and veggies.

Related to the stand-alone cardigan is the twin set, which consists of a cardigan with a matching sleeveless or short-sleeve knit shell underneath. Usually, cardigan and shell are the same color or pattern, but sometimes one will have the pattern, and the other will be in a coordinating color. Every woman should have at least one twin set in her closet for those days when she just can’t decide what sweater to layer with what top. With a twin set, the decision is already made; all you have to do is throw on a bottom—anything from jeans to dress pants to a skirt—and pick appropriate shoes. Don’t forget the jewelry; it’s the perfect time to dig up that pearl necklace you received for your Sweet 16.

Layering sweaters is not as complicated as it seems. Just choose a sweater and layer it under and/or over it. The result is an instantly coordinated look that will allow you to look your best while adapting to temperature fluctuations, so you’re never too warm or too cool.


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