Extreme Layering 101: This Winter, Wear Everything All at the Same Time

In many parts of the country, layering is more practical than aesthetic. This winter, however, runways were totally aligned with that abominable snowman look you sometimes sport mid-January. A chic abominable snowman, that is.

Chanel, for one, was even more layered than usual. The idea of a three-piece suit for women was reinvented (right) to include jacket (often in a chunky knit, over another chunky knit), skirt and pants. On the runway, the pants accompanying these looks weren't as skinny as you might expect — Chanel's were more stovepipe. You may have also seen Emma Watson sport pants under a skirt in Dior Haute Couture at the premiere for The Perks of Being a Wallflower (below), and those pants weren't exactly skin-tight either.

To take this look from the runway and red carpet to the street, I think you're going to want to streamline the silhouette of the pants you might choose. Super-skinny pants, dare I say jeggings, are probably the way to go. The skirt should be a bit more voluminous, you don't want to wear this look with a pencil skirt or anything form-fitting. Tulip skirts like Watson's work well. And these pants showed off ladylike shoes, they weren't tucked in to boots as has become the winter uniform of women everywhere. Something like the J Brand Katherine Tux Pant, $242, or Old Navy's Rockstar Super Skinny Jeans, $34.50 would work well.

If that seems a bit too complicated or easy to get wrong, just stick with leggings and tights. Fleece tights can be a real life saver when you can't bear the thought of going out in a skirt. Legacy Legwear Fleece Tights, $23.17 for two pair, aren't bulky and look just like regular opaque tights.

Marc Jacobs had, by far, the most dramatic over-layered look (above). Scarves and wool capes over wool coats over dresses over pants with Mad Hatter-type toppers finishing it all off. The biggest real world takeaway from this runway was a way to fashionable layer heavy nubby knits over other heavy nubby knits. Instead of keeping it monochromatic to play down how many layers you're wearing, make each layer a different color and don't be afraid of a print. Chunky dresses had 3-D and metallic embellishments peeking out from under thick wool coats in teal, purple, or their own bold brocades and prints. There were also a lot of wide, chunky knit scarves worn like wraps on top of a regular scarf worn at the neck. Basically it was about layering your outerwear. They key to keeping it fashionable is to choose wools and cashmeres, no performance fabrics or anything that could be termed athletic. Keep your skiwear on the slopes.

Try a coat with more volume than you may be used to, with more room for layers underneath, like this See by Chloe Wool-Blend Coat, $750 or Chalayan Wool-Blend Coat, $2,465. Something more colorful, this Burberry Brit Wool-Blend Coat, $995 or Calvin Klein Two Tone Asymmetrical Walking Coat, $210, makes a bolder fashion statement and allows for easier-to-put-together neutral layering underneath.

Images via IMAXtree, Getty