Reverse Layering: The Fun Way to Wear Old Pieces

everse layering man repeller style

One of my favorite things to do toward the end of a season—both out of necessity and for my own amusement—is to daydream about new ways to wear the clothes in my closet that are starting to feel old. I observe zero limits when it comes to the kinds of styling experiments this can entail, and to be honest, sometimes the results are surprising even to me.

The way I’ve been playing around with my clothes lately could be described as “reverse layering.” I might put a bra over a button-down or layer a bathing suit top over something I once wore as a plus-one to somebody’s wedding. Even when a combo doesn’t exactly work, it helps me see what’s in my closet differently—and that might lead to a completely new idea. You see where I’m going.

If you’re feeling that same “I can’t believe I’m saying this but I kind of wish it was fall already so I can wear literally anything else” feeling—I present five reverse layering ideas that just might inspire you to embrace bad summer before it’s too late.

Idea No. 1: Lace Bra Over a Men’s Shirt

This Lonely bra is actually what made me want to do this story, because it’s gorgeous and I was looking for a way to show it off to the masses. By layering it over a men’s button down, I’m simply combining feminine lingerie and masculine shirting, which makes the look fun and interesting to me. Whatever you elect to add on in the way of bottoms and footwear is just gravy.

2. Swim Bandeau Over a Dress

Lykke Wullf dress, Jo de Mer swim bandeau -- another here, Miista sandals, Tuleste necklaceLykke Wullf dress, Jo de Mer swim bandeau -- another here, Miista sandals, Tuleste necklace

I came to this styling trick because my dress was a bit big in the chest and I kept showing more than I intended. So, I wrapped a swim bandeau (this one has a tie in the back) to secure the bodice a bit better. In the event that the chest area of your dress needs no securing at all thankyouverymuch, might I recommend sliding the bandeau to your waist and wearing it as a sash belt?

3. Tank Over a Sheer Shirt

I love this organza shirt from KkCo so much, but I keep finding myself wearing it with a simple tank underneath. So, I thought: why not layer the undershirt over the shirt and create a new silhouette? The shirt now billows under the hem of this plain tank, making a bit of a peplum. I paired the shirt/tank combo with pajama shorts and simple flats. If you don’t have an organza shirt like this one, try any sheer button down—it will have a similar effect.

4. Skirt Over a Dress

You may remember this golden slip from the slip dress story Crystal and I styled, but you also may not because—worn with this midi skirt over as a strapless dress—I’ve totally transformed the damn thing. I love that the hems of both garments fishtail out, but you could do this with a slip skirt and slip dress and the look would be very cool too. I recommend choosing a skirt with an elastic waistband (which this one did not have) because it’s more giving as you slide it up to your armpits.

5. Denim Shorts Over Swim Trunks

This is a look I’ve been singing to Harling about for months. If you layer swim trunks and athletic shorts—which are being worn a ton this summer—under your favorite pair of denim shorts, you have a new set of bottoms. Try folding the waistband of the under-layer over the shorts too. I didn’t think of that until right now.

So, there you have it! Five ideas for wearing garments you already have in ways you may not have ever dreamed of wearing them. What other combos would you try? Drop ’em in the comments below, because you know I’m down to give them a shot.


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