Layering Up for Summer: A “Hot” Trend for Street or Stage


Designer Gene Kagan of  Lola & Sophie

Early summer heat wave be damned, the concept of layering is never far from my consciousness. These days I just don’t feel fully dressed unless I’ve got a layer over my tank top, tank dress or t-shirt. The layers I’m referring to don’t really add much in the way of warmth, they are more for style; a cotton jersey vest, mesh tank or lightweight denim shirt will do just fine. On a recent trip to Atlanta (more about that below) I had happened to hang up a chiffon animal print vest/bathing suit coverup next to a long striped maxi tank dress. Noticing that they looked good together tonally (in the same blacks and grays), and as an afterthought since I felt that the tank dress alone was too “beachy” for the brunch I was going to attend, I put them on and headed out.

To my surprise, a total stranger asked me where I purchased my “outfit” assuming that I had bought the two together. I was therefore in my element at a recent breakfast/open house given by designer Gene Kagan of the contemporary sportswear brand Lola & Sophie.  Judging by the offerings on view, lightweight layering will continue to stay strong through Holiday 2015. I had Lola & Sophie–named after Kagan’s two dogs– on my radar for a few years since discovering the brand and purchasing one of their versatile stretchy knit tops. I remember marveling at the excellent price point (many pieces hover under $100 and even the jackets are under $200). At last week’s event, attendees were invited to select any item from either of the new Fall or Holiday collections as a parting gift. Sure beats the usual goodie bag!

To return to the layering aspect, the brand’s casual yet luxurious aesthetic coupled with the sculptural shapes and easy flow of the fabrics make multiple tiers possible without any bulk or excess warmth. With Lola & Sophie tops, it’s really easy to mix and match. Start with an under layer, either a solid or a sophisticated print, such as an asymmetrical hemmed tank in a flowy yet well weighted fabric. Add either a moto style ponte jacket, a distressed satin cardigan, a crepe jersey jacket or a super lightweight jacquard long duster (my personal favorite and the item I selected to have sent to me) and you’ve magically transformed separates into a totally polished yet comfortably chic look. For Holiday there are slightly heavier yet still relaxed fabrications including a toned down sequin top to be worn with jeans and a cabled or tweed-like sweater blazer. Colors include ivory, black, gray, navy, burgundy and taupe. The line includes a few dresses and casual pants which I did not try on but looked great on the model.

If layering is not really your thing, there are still several styles in long sleeve tunic tops with and without button fronts which could be thrown over casual pants or jeans to give an instantly pulled together look. Several tops actually have a built in chiffon layer that make it look like you put extra effort into your ensemble with only one garment. I also love the faux-chinchilla vest and faux chinchilla sweater jacket for looking ahead to that first cooler snap in the weather. “These are clothes to experiment with and make your own” says Kagan. “I designed them to be both comfortable and flattering and to instill a certain sense of empowerment for the woman who wears them.” Kagan has been in business for about four years with this line which can be found locally at Diana & Jeffries, and Ann Crabtree, both on Madison Avenue, Anik on Third Avenue and CPW Boutique on Amsterdam Avenue as well as online at

As for the gauze-like textured duster, of course it looked terrific on the approximately 6 ft. tall model there to display the clothes, but it was still wearable on a person of slightly less stature. When someone remarked that it really worked on just about everyone, Kagan said, “I hope so! We cut a lot of them.” In retail parlance, the commitment has been made so everyone go out and buy a long duster; preferably the Lola & Sophie version!

Stones Concert at Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

Another example of the power of layers was on full display when the Rolling Stones took the stage during their current 15-city Zip Code Tour. I saw them on their fifth stop–Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia 30332–last week and marveled at how, although the core four’s faces are obviously deeply lined, they seem to have more energy than normal folks half their age. Thanks Adam Levine of Maroon 5, but only Jagger actually “moves like Jagger” — one month shy of his 72nd birthday, he doesn’t seem to have missed a note or a step with his “strutting rooster on speed” run of the stage and catwalk.

Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards
in Atlanta (Creative Loafing photo)

I had read an interview with Mick in which he discussed his stage clothing and mentioned that he likes to wear very bright, almost day-glo colors for his stadium tours in order to be more easily seen. He opened the show true to form on that account in a shiny green brocade blazer that would not have been out of place in a Las Vegas lounge lizards’ act. A few songs in and off came the blazer revealing a black sequined satin shirt.Eventually he stripped that off too and was left in a tight see-through purple long sleeved t-shirt which either sprouted a hole under his right arm or the hole just got bigger as he put it through his paces. Even the great Mick Jagger is not immune to the occasional wardrobe malfunction! Jagger also wore a patterned shirt over the black tee which could have been Versace but reminded me of the hideous polyester Huckapoo shirts that were big in the ’70s.

Mick performs Sympathy for the Devil

A few tunes later he appeared in a pewter leather trapunto stitched motorcycle jacket with ’80s shoulders which I loved and again stripped down to a blue satin button down blouse. Under that was another version of the same long sleeved transparent tee shirt; this time in black sans hole. Finally for the encore of “Sympathy For The Devil” Sir Michael Philip aka Mick, appeared in a long, red feathered cape which worked well with the accompanying “flames” on the three-sided Jumbotron. Mind you this was on an 87 degree evening with very little breeze and heavy humidity! Keith Richards or Keef, also donned rainbow brights: teal sneakers, red satin jacket over a purple shirt, black and white striped headband, with a later change to an equally intense green jacket. One reviewer, Melissa Ruggieri of (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) likened his outfit to a “human package of Skittles.” (I think I read that comment about the wardrobe in “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” too). Ronnie Woods was a human chimney, smoking a cigarette hands-free throughout the latter portion of the concert. He wore a purple jacket with a bright yellow tee with a colorful design underneath. Eventually his jacket was removed too. Only Charlie Watts, behind the drum kit, wore a plain vanilla or maybe pale yellow generic tee, perhaps not wishing to be part of the Crayola parade.

As the night wore on… (Bill Dawers photo)

Knowing that Mick’s late girlfriend, the designer and former stylist L’Wren Scott, used to dress the band for their concerts, I found myself wondering what she would make of this somewhat clownish tour attire. Under her tutelage Mick had previously donned a pinstriped jacket and fedora albeit for a more intimate club or even an arena setting, rather than a stadium tour. After all these years, the Stones can obviously do no wrong either musically or sartorially; the crowds will still turn out and make some noise for them as they did some 42,000 strong in Atlanta .It was kind of a magical evening for me and my Atlanta-based daughter as we could see the stadium and hear the opening act music from her new apartment’s terrace getting us really psyched up. We reminisced about the last time we saw the Stones at Giants Stadium on their “Bigger Bang” tour, over a decade ago!

This time we were able to get to the stadium with a mere 15 minute walk thereby avoiding the massive traffic snarl that the ATL is known for; only made worse when an event of this magnitude comes to town. We also loved that the Stones, who select a local college choir at each location, chose my daughter’s recent alma mater Emory University’s choir for backup on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Suffice it to say, I am glad I happened to be down South to witness this since the veteran rock ‘n rollers are not coming any closer than Buffalo when they get up North.

Speaking of sound, I am including a link to a podcast which includes a radio interview of yours truly for Fashion Industry News (F.I.N.) Radio. My thanks to host Jennifer Torress, who had somehow come across the DFR and decided to track me down. As I mention in the interview I have FOSM (Fear of Social Media) and cannot be located through the usual channels of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,or Snapchat thereby making the task more difficult than one would think in today’s zero privacy world. The interview begins at the 7 minutes 40 second mark, in case you want to skip ahead. I can’t say I have the best voice for radio but I enjoyed the opportunity none the less.

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.