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Style Hack: Layering A Shirt Under A Dress

layering a turtleneck under a dress

Photos by Red Lemon Art & Photography.


Layering tees and long sleeves under dresses isn't anything new, but the combination seems to have come back in full force this year as soon as everything 90s started popping up again. I've always loved the look when done right, and have always rocked it when my wardrobe aligns.

I didn't always have the right pieces to mix, but I'm happy to report that's no longer a problem! You can see a past version of this layering trick here, as well as in some upcoming posts. In my experience, there are a few simple guidelines to follow when layering a shirt under a dress:

  1. Keep it Tight: The shirt under your outer layer should always fit tighter. A ribbed texture is a great way to achieve this while also adding some interest to your look, but anything tight enough will do. You want to be comfortable, and look seamless.

  2. Watch the Neckline: I've seen ladies pull on a crew neck or blouse, throw their dress overtop, not rearrange anything, and call the look a fail. But luckily I'm there to help! With a few adjustments, like making sure the seams of the shirt match up with your shoulders and elbows and the collar is aligned with the dress, we have a completely different look that works. Keep in mind that the shirt you pick will define the overall style of your look, so play around with your basic crew necks and long sleeve blouses to see what you like best.

  3. Get Neutral, Matchy, or Creative: When I was styling this dress for the fall lookbook, I knew I couldn't throw on a matchy white turtleneck and achieve any sort of fall vibe. Cream would have worked well, but not as much with these shoes and belt; so I got creative. I tried on all my neutral turtlenecks until this one stuck. You can go neutral and layer black or white under almost anything, get matchy and pick a top that's the same colour as a pattern in your dress, or get creative and pair a striped long-sleeve with a polka-dot dress in similar tones.

Whatever way you decide to do it, have fun styling! I'm always here for questions.

layering a turtleneck under a dress
layering a turtleneck under a dress

$10 (sale) H&M Turtleneck (Similar) | $100 Verde Alternatives Dress (in store!) | $20 YGK Studios Belt (Similar) | $60 (sale) Jeffrey Campbell Shoes

layering a turtleneck under a dress

You know when you see something and you just need to have it?! Well, such was the case with this dress from Verde Alternatives. I was in their store about a month ago (for the first time) to pull items for a shopping client I was meeting later that week. My client has a love for natural fabrics and it became clear that when I wandered in, I had hit the fabric jackpot (if you live in Kingston and haven't been... you HAVE to go.. like yesterday).

As I wandered past their natural cleaners and bamboo toothbrushes, THERE IT WAS, begging me to try it on. When walked out of the change room, I felt like I was wearing the dress I'd been missing my whole life. The fabric, the cut, THE COLOUR, the stripes, the lapels, the silhouette, the buttons... ugh, it's just so divine.

I can wear it open as a vest, half open as a top, or fully buttoned as a dress. For the Fall Lookbook I decided to layer it as a dress with a turtleneck, chunky vintage brown belt I snagged from Ygk Studios, and my darling Jeffrey Campbell shoes.

Honestly, I haven't felt more at ease in my style than when wearing this dress, especially with the belt. This look is SO me, on any given day, even if some people might think it's a little over the top. The takeaway here is - if YOU like it, YOU decide to wear it (or in my case, buy it).


P.s. the lovely ladies who work at Verde were happy to explain that my dress was made by an African woman who was paired a fair wage to make this dress, in an air conditioned factory. Now THAT is the kind of story I would like all of my pieces to one day have.

Here's a second look from the 2017 Fall Lookbook, showcasing a layered black turtleneck under a beautiful purple dress.

layering a turtleneck under a dress

Thanks for reading!

xo Jesse

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