How to Layer Up a Cocktail Dress For Winter Nights

Posted on In Evening Dresses No Comments

It’s been a cold, wet winter this year – and the less than desirable weather shows no sign of abating. If Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction is right, we’ve got six more weeks of this patience-testing season. Six more weeks. That’s a lot of girls’ night outs, evening events, and dinner parties. Cue: Major style dilemma. How are you supposed to keep your ensemble cute but your general personage warm? We’ve assembled a few pointers and suggestions, using some of our most popular cocktail dress styles as a base. Cozy up to the fireplace with hot cocoa in your hand and slippers on your feet and read on!

How to Layer Up a Cocktail Dress


Capes are no longer just for Disney princesses or Victorian-era debutantes. The sleeveless outer-garment has reentered the fashion consciousness in a major way, parading down the runways of Derek Lam, Alexander McQueen, Erdem, Mulberry, and more. Long, short, midi-length; wool, satin, organza; embroidered, fur-lined, piped – there’s something out there for everyone and every dress. The dress we’re focusing on for this style challenge is our Black Crystal Beaded Short Dress. This stunning sleeveless silhouette feature sheer paneling and crystal beaded embellishments that create a sunburst-like pattern on both the front and back of the design. The curved shape of a cape will accent this pattern, adding even more dramatic flair. Plus, as you swoosh it behind you, onlookers will catch a peekaboo glimpse of this style’s open back. You can add to the effect with geometric jewelry and textured hair.

Bonus: If you don’t have time to find your own cape, we’ve got you covered. (Quite literally.) We’ve gone ahead and done the layering for you with this soft jersey silhouette. The eye-catching cape detail hits just above the ankle, creating a tiered hemline and enviable movement. 

How to Layer Up a Cocktail Dress


Sharp Tuxedo Jacket 

The tuxedo jacket is indubitably one of our favorite borrowed-from-the-boys pieces. The seemingly androgynous shape looks severely femme with a bit of crisp tailoring. Look for satin lapels to elevate the look. If your man doesn’t mind acting as your accessory for the evening, have him don one as well – just be sure to warn him that you’re likely to steal the style spotlight. Another benefit of this particular layering piece is its versatility. It works with any length and almost every dress shape.

The one we’ve selected for pairing is our Black and Gold Sleeveless Fit and Flare Dress. This twirl-ready silhouette features a deep-V neckline with sheer paneling and a contrast waistline that draws the eye inward, creating a slimming effect. We are especially drawn to its regal floral pattern, embellished with shimmering sequins. These will play nicely against those satin lapels we mentioned earlier. Continue the sheen with glossy locks and an oversized cocktail ring or two.  



How to Layer Up a Cocktail Dress


Leather jacket

The leather jacket might just be our most-used top layer. It’s also a favorite amongst the fashion set for its versatility – whether you’re donning jeans and a tee or a ballgown, the LJ is a welcome addition to the look. Inextricably linked to its rebellious history, it has an unmatchable ability to toughen up a look. That’s why we love it so much with our Black Lace Bodice Two-Piece.

Sexy with an edge, this dress combo features intricate lace embroidery, crystal embellishment, and plenty of tulle for a fun finish. We recommend continuing the theme with lace fingerless gloves (We’re pretty sure Madonna would approve.)

You can also slip on a pair of lace socks before your patent pumps for an extra touch of warmth and more than a few style points. Don’t be afraid to bring in a little color when considering your jewelry options. We’d love to see it with fiery red oversized crystal studs.



How to Layer Up a Cocktail Dress


Trench coat 

Maybe we’ve read a few too many romance novels, but to us, there’s something inherently sexy about a classic trench. Effortlessly chic and infinitely versatile, it’s something every fashion girl worth her sartorial salt should have in her closet. Besides that whole, I-wonder-what-she’s-wearing-underneath thing it has going on, it also brings a chic, unstudied vibe to everything from denim to cocktail dresses. Which is where this sultry number comes in. Our red halter cutout jersey dress is a red hot choice for a night on the town.

Cut in a sophisticated knee-length sheath silhouette, this style turns heads with strategically placed cutouts at the waistline. A nude pump will make you seem extra leggy – and, conveniently, will work well with a traditional khaki-colored trench coat. We would not be opposed to a cat-eye liner for a meow-worthy finish.




How to Layer Up a Cocktail Dress


Loose fit blazer (play into the 90’s trend) 

The loose fit blazer calls to mind those romantic nights when a chivalrous date has wrapped your shivering shoulders in his broad-shouldered jacket. The best thing about getting your own? Everyone gets to stay warm. Also, you can select one with a slightly more flattering fit. The right one should make you feel enveloped, not overtaken. This silhouette was top of the list for 90’s club kids, which may be why we keep wearing ours with this crystal-embellished statement dress.

The bodycon silhouette creates an alluring profile with a deep V-neckline and sheer paneling. Match the glitz with shoulder-grazing drop earrings and encrusted bangles. Dark eye makeup with slightly smudged liner will give it just a dab of on-trend grunge appeal.

How to Layer Up a Cocktail Dress







Every once in a while, Mother Nature will ease up for a February night and give us a temp on the mild side. For when there’s just a nip of a chill, pun intended, a light sleeveless layer like the vest comes in handy. Long or short, leather or cotton, they’re an easy go-to – and even easier to stash in a tote, should you so desire, when you get to the venue.

For our Navy Plunging Neckline Dress, we see a slightly oversized vest silhouette that hits mid-thigh. A crisp white hue would add a certain nautical chic element to the ensemble. (Can you say yacht party?) If you do decide to shimmy out of your top layer midway through the night, you’ll be able to show off this plunge necked design’s bead lace applique details. A strappy stiletto in nude or metallic will give the outfit a polished lift.