The slightest peep of warm sunshine and a tint of green on trees permit us to shed off those heavy layers of wool, silk and cashmere. But in spring 2012, reconsider liberating the idea of ‘layering’ your outfits from its infamous time frame.

As we enter spring / summer 2012, a new silhouette is discovered that permits you to layer clothes during the summer months. We’re seeing lighter fabrics and fresher palettes come around with an obvious touch of summer sensuality.

This rarely timed trend has taken a mainstream route and beckoned the creative energy of several designers, with one harmonious message ringing amongst all – layering this summer is all about how you wear it, not what you wear.

Continue reading after the break to get the essence of this trend and know how to layer for spring 2012. And don’t forget that if you’d like to keep up to date with all of the latest fashion trends and inspiration on how to wear them, to subscribe to’s RSS feed or give us the thumbs up on Facebook.

The reincarnation of layering has never been so quirky until now. It could either be tagged as a stepbrother of the ‘pleats’ trend or be declared as a sparkling new silhouette for the warmer months. These summer layers have introduced new dimensions of the body, ones that have always existed but never put into a theatrical production.

What is summer layering?

The most coherent explanation would be to layer two or more garments in the same outfit, but also ingeniously linking them with other trends for spring 2012. When layering for summer, the key is to drape fabrics on the body whilst leaving scope for an unpresumptuous skin show, as opposed to how layering is done for the winter months where even the ears aren’t spared.

The silhouette is A-lined, vertical and fluid, all owing to the fabric enveloping the body.

Ironical it may be, but this new season’s summer layering is a slyly sexual variety of the sheer trend. It’s not as visibly verbal in terms of hitting the sensual radar, but the sneaky layers let the onlooker amend their imagination to as they please.

Why layer for spring / summer?

Layering has always been associated with winters (aware of the bundled-up feeling?), but layering for spring is an unconventional way of adjusting your garment to your comfort, all depending on how you feel on the day. It coats a thin layer of modesty on some extremely revealing trends and continues to push boundaries of being confident of your best assets.

Be it sexy, sophisticated, lady-like, modern or girlish, this spring trend is an ideal pick for a hot date on a balmy evening. You just can’t go wrong.

A trend so diverse comes with prototypes from the spring 2012 runway shows, all enunciating the various options that accompany layering this summer.

Layering a skirt over sheer

At the risk of overusing the term ‘modest’ when referring to this trend, it does suffice to say that this variety of summer layering is the most sophisticated kind.

Masha Ma’s spring / summer 2012 collection is a reflection of a reserved housewife from the ‘50s who has been teleported to the 21st century. The sheer knee-length petticoat peeps from underneath a draped layer of knife-pleated skirt, maintaining its respectable aesthetic.

Marni meanwhile pitched a similar old-fashioned twist by having a sheer skirt under the chief retro-inspired skirt in their spring 2012 collection.

skirt over sheer layer
Layered sheer skirts at Masha Ma (left) and Marni, S/S ’12

For you to adapt this version in your new wardrobe, ensure that the fabric underneath is either organza or crisp georgette. The inner layer can’t be flimsy and soft, or it wouldn’t give the shape you require to compliment this look. Think of Mad Men when shopping for fabrics for this genre of layering.

Layering a skirt over shorts

Daks’ summer layering has a futuristic and sporty angle, where hot pants are teamed with an A-line cape skirt. This serious front-on leg reveal is another way to experiment with this layered clothing trend. Adjust the sensuality levels with buttons to show more or less of the shorts underneath.

skirt over shorts
Skirts over shorts at Daks S/S ’12

Lyn Devon gave another example of dresses worn over shorts, adjustable to reveal more or less skin. A long skirt with slits up the sides layered over hot pants or a shorter under-skirt has the same effect.

shorts under skirt
Adjustable layers at Lyn Devon S/S ’12

Play with fabrics

Luca Luca’s spring / summer 2012 collection is a great reference point for when you layer with different fabrics. He abandoned the idea of conventional draping and overlaid his breezy chiffon dresses with silky layers and cut-outs.

The best way to go about this is to understand which fabrics flatter your body type and what you’re comfortable in. Remember, this layering is for summer, so don’t overdo with heavy fabrics.

skirt over pants
Skirt over pants at Luca Luca S/S ’12

One-toned colour

The colours of the layers are very important for styling this look. It’s not so much to do with adhering to the summer palette, as it is to let the layered colours compliment each other.

Take the path of minimalism and pick an all-white layered outfit; whether that’s a sheer overlay on a shift dress or a silk chemise under a lacy shirt-dress. It’s sexy, vulnerable and there’s so much to choose from.

Clare Waight Keller’s Chloe woman for this spring is a refined version of her former self; the appliqué and lacy fabric layering in soft hues of cream strangely spark a boyish charm for this array of layering. To mirror this look by Chloe, you’re looking at investing in tuxedo blazers, classic white shirts or shirts with collars in sturdy fabrics.

white summer layers
White summer layers at Chloe, S/S ’12

Elie Saab knows how to drape his woman in a seductive manner, and his spring 2012 collection did full justice to the layered look. Except this time, the layering didn’t reveal another fabric but gave a glimpse of the skin underneath. This is where the ultra seductive and sexualised version of the trend comes in.

What you can take from Saab’s aesthetic for this spring is keeping the palette a neutral shade. If you’re not a fan of white, go for eye-popping colours but layer them sexily. You need heads to turn, despite the inundation of fabric on your body.

summer drape dress
Draping layers of fabric at Elie Saab, S/S ’12

Graphic print

If you’re a McQueen devotee, throw all the rulebooks out the window and treat your body like a canvas. For a graphical and psychedelic pop to your summer wardrobe, you will have to swear by these two Ps – prints and peplums.

Sarah Burton overlapped heavy fabrics around the waist to create a layered peplum (which is going to be huge this season, as well). In other instances, layered lace reveal another intricate layer of immaculate craftsmanship from the house of Mcqueen.

peplum over skirt
Lace under peplum and corset belt at Alexander McQueen, S/S ’12

Even though this type of layering is more theatrical than a realistic option for spring, it’s another example of the vine-like characteristic of the layered trend.

Trend updates

Share some style:

Want to keep up with fashion?

Once a week, we send out an update with the latest fashion trends, styles and collections.
Get yours direct in your inbox and keep ahead of fashion.

Our newsletter is spam free and your email address will never be shared or sold.