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I'm a Stylist and Live by This Layering Trick to Stay Cozy All Season

Courtney Busch, Stitch Fix stylist, shares her insight on the "3-layer rule."

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Now that autumn is in full swing, we're once again donning those chunky knits, leather boots, and dark denim that we missed while they were stowed away for the summer months. But even though many of us are excited about brisk breezes, we also recognize that getting dressed in the fall can be tricky. The ever-changing temperatures can go from frigid in the morning to balmy by the afternoon, meaning your oversized sweater that started off cozy can quickly become a burden. According to Stitch Fix stylist Courtney Busch, that's where the "3-layer rule" comes in. Read on to find out how you can stay fashionable and functional all season long.

RELATED: 11 Fall Wardrobe Essentials as You Get Older.

What is the "3-layer rule"?

woman wearing sweater and holding jacket in the wall
nelen / Shutterstock

If you're wondering what the "3-layer rule" is, it's actually as simple as it sounds.

"The 3-layer rule is a simple method Stitch Fix coined that I often use when styling my clients, and it's one that's easy for anyone to replicate," Busch tells Best Life. "As the name suggests, it involves creating an outfit using three distinct layers, each serving a specific purpose to keep you comfortable and stylish."

These layers can be whatever you see fit, but you'll want to ensure they work as one cohesive outfit and on their own. (So, even if you decide to add or subtract pieces as the day goes on, you'll still have a stylish look.)

RELATED: 5 Colors You Should Never Wear Together, Stylists Say.

You can stay comfortable all day, even as the weather gets colder.

woman wearing layers in the fall
Soloviova Liudmyla / Shutterstock

According to Busch, having each of these three layers guarantees that you'll be comfortable, even as temperatures rise and fall during your morning commute, your mid-day walk, and your after-work happy hour.

"We've all experienced chilly mornings, warm afternoons, and cooler evenings during the transition from summer to fall, leaving us feeling either too hot or too cold," Busch says. "The 3-layer rule is a foolproof way to make sure your outfit features components that can be taken on and off throughout the day to account for shifts in weather. It also ensures your look offers the perfect amount of variety and dimension."

Busch says that the 3-layer rule helps keep you "stylish and cozy during the cooler seasons," because it invites you to mix and match different outfit combinations. And it still applies when we move into winter.

"You can easily handle unpredictable weather conditions, from temperature fluctuations to rain or snow, by adding or removing layers as needed," she says. "By mastering this rule, you can navigate fall and winter with confidence and style!"

RELATED: 6 Fall Accessories to Elevate Your Wardrobe as You Get Older.

Take advantage of items already in your closet.

woman picking item out of closet
Goodboy Picture Company / iStock

Another benefit of the 3-layer rule is that following it doesn't require going shopping (unless you want to, of course). As Busch explains, you can create a dynamic look with the clothes you own.

"The best part about this styling technique is that you likely already have all the pieces you need to master the 3-layer rule," she says. "I suggest beginning by assessing the items already in your closet and organizing them into functional layers."

Your base layer should be something light and breathable, Busch shares, recommending "lightweight t-shirts, tanks, thermal tops, or moisture-wicking long underwear that feel comfortable against your skin."

Building from there, your middle layer can be something like a blazer, cardigan, or a flannel in the fall. When winter arrives, your middle layer can be a leather or denim jacket instead, Busch says.

The third and final layer will depend on the season and how much insulation you need.

"For your outer layer, check your closet for pieces such as heavier coats, jackets, vests, or windbreakers that can protect you from brisk air, rain, or snow," she says. "Ensure your outer layer is roomy enough to accommodate the layers beneath without feeling too tight!"

You can invest in new pieces as well.

woman buying new coat
marozzau / Shutterstock

Stitch Fix recommends building an "Intentional Wardrobe," which it describes as a personalized capsule wardrobe comprised of "trend-proof investment pieces." You can then use these reliable pieces you love and feel good in to adhere to the 3-layer rule.

Busch recommends a neutral lightweight t-shirt "you'll want to grab time and time again," and a quality crewneck sweater in your favorite color.

When selecting a sweater, Busch advises getting one "that's not too bulky so you can layer under outerwear or drape over your shoulders if you get too hot."

While you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on every new item, if you're going to shell out for anything, make it your outerwear, per Busch's suggestion.

"Your outer layer is the most important layer to invest in!" she says. "While most clients already own coats and jackets, I think it's important to invest in high-quality and versatile pieces that will stand the test of time."

This fall, Busch suggests splurging on an oversized leather or faux leather jacket. And ahead of winter, you'll certainly want a reliable puffer jacket that will keep you warm and dry.

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Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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