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How to Layer On a Little Style Even in Summer

June 27, 2022

Happy Monday! Yes, it’s hot outside here, too. But I still think there are times we want to layer on a little style…even in the summer. Whether you’re out in the chilly night air, stepping into an air conditioned restaurant or working in a cool work environment, you might want to add an extra layer for warmth. And then again, there are times you don’t really want to add much heat, but you do want to add a little sizzle to your outfit. Let’s talk about the “how.”

how to Layer on a Little Style even in the Summer

I love layering on the style in the fall and spring. Those are perfect seasons for wearing an exposed top under a casually worn jacket or cardigan. In the winter we definitely layer on the warmth, but often all those layers don’t necessarily show. And in the summer? Well we’re just trying to stay cool! So how can you keep your outfits interesting, but also cool?

The Completer Pieces of Summer

I’ll be sharing more tips for looking classy and chic in the humidity and heat in next week’s video (July 6, 2022). There are plenty of ways to add interest and that special something to your look without layers. But today let’s talk about a few layers you can add without getting all hot and bothered.

Linen Shirts

One of my favorite summer completer pieces is the linen button up shirt. My favorite white linen button up shirt from J.Jill is sold out in the white, but I like this 3/4 sleeve button up linen shirt at Chico’s, too. And here’s a nice linen shirt fully stocked, including petite and women’s sizes, in white at Coldwater Creek. (Did you know they were still around? Ha! I didn’t. But Coldwater Creek has some beautiful things!) I find that I wear my white linen shirt more than the others I have.

Linen Button Up Shirt
linen button up shirt from J.Jill (runs large; size down) // button up linen shirt // linen pull-on shorts (TTS) // white linen shell // Tory Burch Miller Cloud Sandals in Spark Gold/Natural (gifted) // bag no longer available (option and more economical option) // boho cuff bracelet // watch (use code KAYHRMS for 15% off your purchase) // earrings // necklace no longer available (option)

But I do indeed wear my other linen button up shirts, too. I wear them with shorts, jeans, white jeans, colored jeans, and even dresses.

What I Wore Thursday
linen tank not available (this or this would work) // linen shirt (similar) // straight leg crop jeans (also in other colors) // raffia sandals // watch (use code KAYHRMS for 15% // cuff bracelet // earrings (similar) // necklace no longer available

In fact, I rarely wear my linen button up shirts by themselves. I almost always wear them open over a tank or short sleeved top. I prefer tanks because they don’t bunch up at the arm pits or show through the sleeves of the shirt.

Linen Pants and Linen Top
See the original post for details. Chambray linen shirt available only in Petites and Tall sizes now.

I frequently wear a linen shirt over a tank even when it’s quite hot and humid outside. Linen is so breathable and cool to the touch; it actually keeps me cooler. And of course, your linen shirt doesn’t have to be long sleeved or even 3/4 sleeved to wear it over a tank or tee. You could wear a short sleeve linen shirt like this linen camp shirt over another top, too. So cool and fresh looking!

5 Ways to Wear Natural Colored Jeans
See the original post for styling details. // light blue summer sweater // sandals // plaid tote // necklace // earrings // bracelet // watch (use code KAYHRMS for 15% off) // linen shirt

I actually wore the outfit above just this past week when I went to get my hair cut. So yes, even in the heat and humidity a linen shirt is a great option for layering on the style in the summer.

Denim Shorts with a Linen Shirt & Tank
See the original post for details // my denim shorts // button up linen shirt (wearing a small) // linen tank no longer available // Born sandals (and here) // similar Boho Cuffs // necklace // earrings // straw bag (more economical option)

I’ve gathered up a number of great linen shirts in the shopping widget below. The links in the widget as well as in the text of this post are affiliate links. That means if you shop through them I potentially earn a commission, but at no cost to you. Thank you for shopping my links and supporting the work I do here.

Linen Jackets

Since we’re talking linen, let’s go ahead a check out some other options in this fabric. You know I love a linen blazer (and I do indeed wear them even in the hot, humid summer).

5 Ways to Wear Natural Colored Jeans
See the original post for details // blazer (restocked in blue!) // tee in retro blue // plaid tote // necklace // earrings // bracelet // espadrilles (more economical) // watch (use code KAYHRMS for 15% off)

But this year we’re seeing lots of other great linen jacket options, too.

Summer Sandal Trend
See the original post for details // Keri raffia sandals // demi boot linen pants // linen slub tank from closet (similar) // linen jacket // Kate Spade woven satchel // drop earrings // layered necklace (similar option) // Nordgreen watch (use code KAYHRMS for 15% off) // gold bangle

Bomber style jackets have made a come back this year, so I think the linen jacket from Talbots above is a really smart option. It comes in other colors and a full range of sizes.

Flyaway Linen Jacket // Whispering Winds Linen Jacket // Easy Linen Shirt Jacket

But I’ve also seen linen moto jackets and other styles. Check out this olive green linen blend moto jacket at Chico’s. And the flowy styles above from Coldwater Creek look very cool choices for layering on style in the summer. I’ll have several great options for you in the shopping widget below. Don’t be afraid of linen blends, by the way. Usually the blend of fabrications just helps the fabric be a little less prone to wrinkle. But the higher the content of linen and other natural fibers, the cooler the piece will be.


Truthfully, cardigans are not trending like jackets are this year. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear them. What I am seeing a lot of in cardigans is loose weaves and, you got it, linen.

White Zenergy Crop with Summer Sweater

My cotton and nylon blend summer romance cardigan from Chico’s comes in other colors, too. And this lightweight, open front cardigan really is cool and comfortable, even in the heat and humidity. But I’ve collected other beautiful cardigans below, and I think all of them would work nicely even in the hottest months of summer.

Remember to choose sweaters that work best for your body shape and proportions. A short sweater that ends at your tummy will accentuate your tummy. I think most of us will look best in something that hits below the waistline. And if you are wide in the shoulders you may want to steer clear of dolman or drop sleeves, as they will accentuate your shoulders.

Cotton Button Up Shirts

Let’s circle back around to shirts. Linen isn’t the only fabric of choice when reaching for a button up shirt. In fact, this year cotton gauze fabric is really trending. I’m seeing gauzy shirts EVERYWHERE. And they are generally just as cool and comfy as linen. But you do need to be careful that you choose one with a high percentage of cotton or other natural fibers. And the lighter the better, obviously.

Stovepipe Pants
cropped length chinos // striped v-neck tee // Rails gauze shirt (more economical option) // Naturalizer sandals // earrings // necklace no longer available // watch (use code KAYHRMS for 15% off your purchase)

It’s a little funny to me that the photo above is the only one I can find of me wearing one of my Rails gauze shirts as a topper because I actually wear them frequently. But I think that’s because I mostly wear them in my office. In fact, a simple gauze top like this is a great modern option to keep on your desk chair instead of the less trendy cardigan. The the wrinkles are just built in assets!

But of course you could also opt for a regular cotton button up shirt like the very lightweight, almost sheer striped shirt I’m wearing below. That classic shirt also comes in a cheerful yellow stripe.

What I Wore Monday
reversible tank // striped lightweight shirt // shorts (10.5″ inseam) // Naturalizer slides // necklace // earrings // bracelet (I wear a M/L) // belt // watch (use code KAYHRMS for 15% off)

Again, you do not have to wear a long sleeve button up shirt. A short sleeve button up shirt works really nicely and provides a little more of that cool factor. I’ve gathered some cotton and cotton gauze shirts with all different sleeve lengths in the shopping widget below. Just remember to select one that is roomy enough to wear a top under.


You may be surprised to find sweatshirts in my list of summer completer pieces. The name alone implies it would be hot. Ha! But I actually find it very smart to have a sweatshirt or two in my summer wardrobe for travel, if nothing else. Anyone who lives at a high altitude, alongside water or up north will tell you that cool spells can seemingly come from out of nowhere. And a sweatshirt can be a fun way to complete even a shorts outfit during one of those chilly days or evening.

See the original post for details // similar sweatshirt

And I also like having a sweatshirt handy just to throw over my shoulders. You can leave the sleeves untied hanging in front of you. Or you can loosely tie them across your chest. This is just such a fun summer topper!

What I Wore Thursday
white t-shirt //navy stovepipe pants // similar sweatshirt // similar sneakers (more economical) // earrings // watch set (use code KAYHRMS for 15% off)

And these days I’m seeing lots of summer weight sweatshirts in colors perfect for the season. I’ve collected quite a few in the shopping widget below. Remember, in all of these shopping widgets most of these products come in multiple colors and you’re only seeing one of them. So click through for additional color options.

Kimonos & Ruanas

Perhaps the coolest of all summer completer pieces with which you can layer on style in the summer is the kimono or ruana. Honestly, retailers and brands seem to use these terms, along with duster and topper, quite interchangeably with no rhyme or reason. So just go with the concept and don’t get hung up on the name they choose to use. We’re talking flowy, open front, lightweight wraps or toppers that add color and interest to your summer outfit without adding the heat.

Resort Worthy Travel Capsule
lotus bloom ruana // white UPF cargo crops // linen stretch layering tank // Tory Burch Miller Cloud sandals // earrings // bracelets no longer available (option)

I shared this lovely, lightweight lotus bloom ruana just last week in this post. I love it with all white, and you could duplicate this look with white jeans, too. But I also enjoy wearing it with blue jeans.

Jeans and Ruana

I find ruanas, toppers and kimonos to be extremely versatile. You can wear them with jeans, pants, shorts, dresses, skirts, joggers, you name it.

LInen Pants and Espadrilles
lightweight linen pants // washed ribbed v-neck t-shirt // ruana // similar espadrilles and another option // similar necklace // similar bracelet // earrings

Topping an outfit with a ruana can be very slenderizing. I especially enjoy creating a column of color underneath by wearing the same color top and bottom with a contrasting wrap. And you can dress them up or down. I think Chico’s has one of the best selections of ruanas and kimonos. That’s where I got the one below a couple of years ago.

summer ruana

I do enjoy wearing my Johnny Was silk kimono (similar). It was pricey and a splurge, but I think I’ll wear it for years. Plus it’s reversible so I can wear either side open. I’ve included a wide assortment of ruanas and kimonos in the shopping widget below at a full range of prices.

Animal Print

Don’t be afraid of ruanas or kimonos or even dusters if you are petite. I’ve found these great summer toppers in all lengths. I do find that if you’ve never worn one before, it takes a little getting used to seeing yourself in one. But once you wear a topper like this once or twice, you’ll be hooked!

The Essential Base Layer

When it comes to layering on style in the summer, choosing the right topper is just one component of the equation. The other is the essential base layer. You go want to choose something cool and fairly slim fitting to wear under any of the above top layers. With the exception, perhaps, of the sweatshirt, I prefer a tank or sleeveless tee under my summer completer pieces. But if I do wear a t-shirt I want it to be one that fits well under the arms and doesn’t bunch up in the sleeves when topped with another piece.

Sweater and Tank
microfiber tank

That could be a microfiber tank from Chico’s, like the one above. They’re very polished, so they’re great for dressier outfits, too. Or it could be a more casual but equally close fitting reversible tank from J.Jill, like I’m wearing below.

Trailing Hibiscus 7" Perfect Shorts
reversible tank from J.Jill

But my favorite option to wear under summer toppers is a linen tank. I have some I purchased several years ago from Chico’s and they didn’t bring back the same tank this year. But I do have the new white linen stretch layering tank from Chico’s, and it’s a good one. Unfortunately it is sold out in the white. That’s what I’m wearing below.

Jeans and Ruana
linen stretch layering tank

The linen stretch layering tank is definitely a looser fit, and you might could even size down for a closer fit. It comes in a nice variety of colors, as do the other tanks I shared above.

Another nice option is something like I’m wearing below…a more freely flowing tank or sleeveless top.

Denim Shorts with a Linen Shirt & Tank
similar top

That tank is from last year and no longer available, but I picked this one up from the same brand and retailer recently, and it’s a great option. And the linen shell below works nicely, too. It’s also available in several colors here.

white linen shell
linen shell

And I also enjoy wearing this sweater tank underneath my summer toppers. I have both the blue and the rainbow prism, but it also comes in ivory.

5 Ways to Wear Natural Colored Jeans
light blue summer sweater // sandals // plaid tote // necklace // earrings // bracelet // watch (use code KAYHRMS for 15% off) // linen shirt

But I’ve collected a lot of other great options for that essential base layer in the shopping widget below.

Thanks so much for stopping in today. How do you prefer to layer on style during the summer? Let me know in the comments. Have a great day!

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Blessed for My Day

Early yesterday morning I read a devotional about the temptation to compare ourselves to other people. The sad thing about that was that I had already that morning compared bits and pieces of my life to visible segments of the lives of no fewer than four other women. And I’d only been up less than an hour. Ugh! As I walked into my less than immaculate kitchen I thought of one of my friends who keeps a spotless house. Or at least it appears she does. And when I took my coffee into my morning room where I still have a completely empty wall, I thought of another woman whose house is beautifully decorated. You get the picture. And then I sat down, opened my devotional book and read, “The ways you compare yourself to others goes on and on.” Yep!

But as I read the remainder of the devotional I was reminded that I don’t need to compare myself to other people because I am made to be unique. No one else can fulfill my destiny. No one else brings the same thing to the table that I do. No other single person will potentially impact the same set of people that I will have the opportunity to impact. I have a unique purpose; so do you. So today let’s stop comparing ourselves to others. And instead let’s boldly and bravely be the women God created each of us to be, cheering each other on along the way.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” ~ Jeremiah 1:5

xoxo, Kay
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3 thoughts on “How to Layer On a Little Style Even in Summer

  1. I am so fortunate to have just found your blog! I love everything I have seen you wear and it is definitely the way I like to dress. I appreciate your selections, color combos, and creative ideas for putting them all together because they look so awesome. I look forward to more! Thank you!!!!

  2. You’re so right about the comparison game! As I’m aging, I tend to look at younger women and feel so old. Then I remind myself that “yes, I am unique and wonderfully made and loved by God, just as I am” I still have a purpose to use my gifts for the years I have left to share.