Layering, like most innate talents, is something that you were either born intuitively knowing how to do, or...you weren't. (Guilty.)
Luckily for the layering-challenged, Arthur & Daughters' Private Label collection of perfect pinnafores and fierce frocks effortlessly lend themselves to both novices and master laterers alike, proving that there's not a single outfit in existence that a sweet neoprene number or a felted wool apron dress can't make even chicer.
The label's designer, Hilary Arthur, creates her small but mighty collection of handmade wrap dresses, skirts and tunics from her store and studio in York, PA, where shoppers can peruse the entire Private Label range, work with Arthur to customize a piece, or snag something from other Made in the USA lines like Lobo Mau. (A curation of consignment goods from top houses like Chanel, Carolina Herrera, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton, to name a few, are also on hand.)
I caught up with Arthur at the new Maark Concept store in Philadelphia last month, where she styled me in a few pieces including a fiery red neoprene wrap dress that packed a whole new punch into my admittedly overly abused denim-on-denim uniform, er, outfit, plus a pale, generously-pocketed pink crepe pinnafore that popped right over jeans and a white silk tank straight from the shelves at Maark Concept.
But - back to layering as an artform: It's most commonly used functionally, that is to say as an actual survival mechanism (at least here on the East Coast) for added warmth, but it also works wonders for texture and dynamism, plus it provides an added chance to boost a color palette. (That cheery red frock completely took my outfit from normcore to street style star.) Simply put, layering just makes an everyday look a lot more interesting.
What has always been my kryptonite, at least when it comes to layers, is the sensation of being constrained within my clothes; I like to wear my clothes, I definitely don't like to feel like my clothes are wearing me. Here's where the genius of Arthur's handiwork comes in: The ultralight and airy fabrics she chooses, the customizable silhouettes courtesy of the signature wrap closure she incorporates into most pieces, and the fact that many are either sleeveless or feature big, roomy sleeves makes them feel freeing rather than restrictive.
Plus, layerable pieces like these exponentially increase the surface area - and eliminate any residual snooze-factor - of your existing wardrobe, so if that can't be classified as a wise investment, then I don't know what can.