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“Mix it up; don’t worry about different shades clashing,” says Vera Wang.
“Mix it up; don’t worry about different shades clashing,” says Vera Wang. / Kohl's

The strongest trend for 2012 is layering separates for a look that’s both unique and chic. But there’s a fine line between looking trendy and looking overdone. Vera Wang explains the secret to knowing when you’ve got it covered.

What’s the best way to layer?

“Mix it up; don’t worry about different shades clashing. Layering lends a certain nonchalance. Each element looks better, richer and more interesting when it’s put with something else, so clothes don’t look so serious.”

What are key layering pieces for the season?

“A leather jacket — the cropped motorcycle style is edgier than a blazer and makes a bold statement; long wrap cardigans — the fitted shape defines the body while the deep V front and cropped length show under layers; leggings, which work best when paired with long layers on top; and layered necklaces — vary the styles, materials and lengths to get lots of sparkle and texture.”

If you’re not used to layering, what’s an easy way to experiment with the trend?

“Anchor your look with something very traditional, like a blazer or pleated trousers. Get it right by mixing textures and proportions. Make things interesting by adding unexpected details and accessories that lend a touch of edginess, like a metallic bag.”

How do you make it look fun and feminine?

“Pair dressy pieces with sportier ones (like a shimmery skirt with a long-sleeved tee or a printed dress with leggings) for a sophisticated contradiction.”

How do you know when you’re done?

“Avoid the ‘too’s.’ If it’s too big, too short or too much (for example, too many necklaces), it won’t look polished. Tone it down.”

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