This outfit formula is inspired by our mild Autumn weather. Layering a knit shell top over a shirt or blouse provides just enough warmth on a crisp Fall day. Adding a topper in the cooler morning and evening works well too. I’ve kept the colours here fairly neutral, but feel free to choose any colour palette. 

Allow your creative juices to flow with this ensemble because knit shell tops come in many, many silhouettes. Find any style of sleeveless knit pullover and layer it over a shirt or blouse. Shop your closet for the combination and see what you can come up with. Create casual and dressier versions of the combination. 

Here are the components:

Shirt or Blouse: The best thing about this outfit formula is that the button-down shirt does not need to have a tailored fit. In fact, it’s better when it’s fluid or oversized for added comfort and a more current vibe. This should solve most stiff button-down shirt fit challenges, like gaping at the bust or flapping around at the torso. 

Wear a soft blouse if stiff and crisp shirts are not your thing. Feel free to wear a collarless blouse. The formula works equally well with patterns and solids. Pattern mixing the shirt/blouse and shell top is another option. 

Shell Top: Shell tops come in a variety of silhouettes, like funnel necks, scoop necks, V-necks and boat necks, so take your pick. Knits are more comfortable, but sleeveless leather peplums work well too. Make sure that the shell tops are roomier than tailored for a more comfortable combination. 

I’ve chosen three different styles of shell top: a boyish classic in a pattern, a boxy cropped style with a grown-on sleeve, and an asymmetrical draped style with diagonal sleeves. Layer them over an untucked shirt or blouse. 

Bottoms: Choose a pair of bottoms that works with the top layers. Jeans, trousers and pencil skirts are easy pairings. Culottes, shorts, flared skirts, skinnies and flares are other options. 

Topper: I found that a moto jacket or trench coat works well with this combination. Peacoats, cocoon coats or man coats are great too. 

Footwear: Booties and pumps are a slam dunk. Loafers and oxfords are another option. Tall boots work well with the skirt or worn over skinnies. 

Accessories: Finish off the look with a bag, jewellery, watch and eyewear as desired. A mini crossbody bag is a fun idea, especially in a pattern. 

This formula works well with an untucked shirt. The tails can peek out from under the shell top for a more deliberate layered effect. I wore this combination recently with both pants and jeans. For a little variation today, I’m wearing the same white shirt and grey knit shell top, but I tucked the shirt into white boyfriend jeans. I added my cognac studded belt and booties, and topped it off with a citron trench coat. It’s a versatile outfit formula with many possibilities.

Ensemble: Shirt, Shell Top & Bottoms