What to Wear Over a Dress for Any Occasion

Thursday, April 20, 2023
What to Wear Over a Dress for Any Occasion

If your calendar is filling up with activities, events, parties, and other excursions, you may be thinking about what you can wear to stay stylish and comfortable for any of these occasions. To keep things simple, you can never go wrong with a dress.

But if you’re looking to elevate your look for the day, layering one of your stylish dresses is one of the easiest ways to add more style to your outfit.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options to choose from. From jackets to shawls, we’re here to guide you on what to wear over a dress so you can look and feel your most beautiful self on any occasion.

Types of Clothes to Wear Over a Dress

Whether you’re grabbing a quick coffee with a friend or planning for a Friday night out, we’re here to help you turn heads and make a statement by styling the dress of your choice with different types of layers.

For a more tailored style, you might opt for a jacket, a regular or oversized sweater, or a cardigan. But if you lean more toward feminine dresses and are looking to add more texture to your look, a scarf can be the perfect add-on. Just remember that this is your time to play dress-up––so don’t be afraid to mix and match these pieces until you land on that ooh la la look in the mirror.

Check out the different options for what to wear over a dress and how to style them:


Layering any type of jacket over your dress can easily make you look more put together while leveling up your style. From denim to corduroy, there are plenty of options you can choose from to fit any occasion. Here are a few ideas.

  • Denim: If you’re going for a smart-casual look, slip on a denim jacket over any dress. From floral prints to other colorful patterns, a denim jacket will add a chic yet relaxed  look to your outfit.
  • Leather: For a fun night out with your friends, whether at a casual dinner or at the new speakeasy in town, a leather jacket or a dark blazer is sure to add a fun, edgy touch to any look. 
  • Ruched Sleeve: Looking for a simple, day-to-day style? Whether you’re going to the office or at a casual happy hour, you can elevate your look with ‘elevated’ or ruched sleeve jackets for the perfect combination between chic and comfortable.

When it comes to picking a jacket for layering over your dress, don’t be afraid to experiment with a variety of styles, whether it’s matching a cropped leather jacket and bright-colored maxi dress or creating a sleek silhouette with an open-front jacket over a sleeveless dress. Discover our stylish jacket selection to find a piece that you can pair with any of your dresses.

Shawls & Scarfs

If you live in a climate where it’s warm during the day, but cool at night, adding a stylish shawl or scarf over your dress may just be the perfect solution to keep you warm and comfortable. From light, airy options to pieces that offer extra warmth for a night out, we have top tips for you.

Sweater shawls: For a chic look to complement your dress, loop a soft and cozy sweater shawl around your shoulders, providing you with the warmth and style your outfit deserves. Discover other ways for how to wear a shawl.

Fringe Scarves: If you’re a fan of tassels, you can’t go wrong with adding a little bit of flare to your dress with a fringe-lined scarf, especially if you’re looking for that extra wow factor to level up your dress.

Ponchos: While not technically considered to be a scarf, a poncho is another type of wrap-around item you can layer over your dress for a more laid-back look.

As you pick and choose different layers from your wardrobe, you can always rely on a stylish scarf or shawl to match your look. From cashmere wraps and shawls to an array of patterns and spring colors, there are endless ways to dress up your dress with a scarf.

Sweaters & Cardigans

When looking for something to wear over your dress for casual or formal attire, you can’t go wrong with a soft oversized sweater or chic cardigan.

Better yet, sweaters come in various styles and silhouettes. From cropped to long, thin to thick, lightweight to cozy and heavy sweaters, you have the freedom to mix and match different styles, prints, and colors to create a more unique and stylish look. Depending on the occasion and style you’re going for, there are plenty of different ways to style a sweater over your dress.

Now that you know what types of clothes you can wear over a dress, let’s break it down into  specific types of dresses.

What to Wear Over a Cocktail Dress

When it comes to dressing up for a cocktail party, you want to look chic and stylish as you mingle. But what can you wear over your dress to make it stand out amongst the cocktails and hors d'oeuvres? We’ve got some tricks up our sleeve for you to try.

Consider adding a blazer or structured jacket in a bold color to your cocktail ensemble to provide your look with an extra edge. And if you know your cocktail party will be outdoors, you can always opt for a stylish scarf or shawl that’ll be sure to sway the eyes of the crowd.

Dressing for summer? Consider a sheer and lightweight layer like an open-front jacket to add a natural, flowy look to your style as those hot summer nights approach. Whatever you choose to wear for your cocktail event, there are plenty of ways you can add elements of your personality.

What to Wear Over a Formal Dress

Whether you’re attending a wedding, a special gala, or a black-tie event, your formal dress is sure to turn heads. And if you’re looking to level up, you can’t go wrong with a sleek blazer or a cozy cardigan as an added layer to wow the people around you.

If you do opt for a blazer or jacket, keep colors and patterns in mind. For example, a neutral color like beige or black can pair nicely with a navy or trendy black dress. On the other hand, a white blazer can contrast nicely with a colorful or patterned dress.

Whenever you’re getting ready for your event, experiment with different layers to style your formal dress. From cozy shawls to sequin cardigans, there are endless ways to express a pop of your personality.

What to Wear Over a Dress for Any Occasion

What to Wear Over a Sleeveless Dress

With all the different dress options out there, a sleeveless dress is always a safe and stylish choice. Even better, sleeveless dresses are easy to style with layers like jackets and sweaters––without the bulk.

When you’re deciding what to wear over a sleeveless dress, it’s important to keep the temperature and weather in mind to make sure your look isn’t compromised by a gust of cold wind. To keep warm, cozy turtleneck sweaters or flattering cardigans are the perfect go-to’s for when those summer nights pick up a cool breeze.

In another scenario, if the air conditioner is blasting at your office, having a chic and sleek blazer or jacket on hand is never a bad idea for layering your sleeveless dress. And as you style your sleeveless dress, don’t hesitate to add different textures and layers, like a patterned scarf or shawl to give your look a little more oomph.

Fall in Love With Layers at Karen Kane

From casual to formal events, you’re sure to find your style with our collection at Karen Kane. We offer a variety of stylish layering pieces that will surely keep you looking chic and polished on any and all occasions.

Check out our Spring Collection or browse our wide selection of fun and trendy clothes and trendy plus size dresses if you need a place to start as you decide on what to wear over your dress. At the end of the day, finding the pieces that bring out the true you is what matters most. And we’re here to help.

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