Editor Note: Layering is maybe one of the most important skills (yes skills) you can learn if you want to be considered a fashionable male. In my eyes it is the KEY to fashion – once you have layering down then you will continue to produce high quality outfits on a consistent basis. My look books show how to do this with specific items, but Lee has come up with some great basic tips for you all to follow below. It took me a long time to get layering down, but as you experiment you learn what works and what doesn’t – I still learn and try out new things each and every week – with mixed effects I might add! This is the first step of your journey into the fashion elite so I hope you enjoy this article and all get something out of it. Ben
One common trend that hit the catwalk this autumn/winter is layering. It can be seen across many of the designers shows and works well with both casual and formal styles. A big plus with layering around this cold time of the year is that with multiple layers you can still stay warm whilst still showing your personal style and defining a ‘look’. You do not just create your standard outfit and throw on a big winter coat over the top to keep you warm. Layering is a great way to combine your favourite pieces this season yet still wear something that’s comfortable and flexible. It’s also very practical, you can simply add an extra layer in the morning when you are off out to start the day, but just as easy remove a layer or two as the day warms up or you are back indoors.
I have noticed this trend getting more and more popular as we go further into winter and it looks great when executed correctly. However I have seen guys going far too over the top with it and although they might be warm, they don’t look good. So before you start layering up everything in your wardrobe, here are some tips to help you on your way.
- Start with light thinner layers first, it’s straight forward and simple. The closer to your skin, the thinner the material so go for a basic cotton T-shirt, vest or dress shirt. Then layer up with heavier fabrics.
- Whatever layer you decide to go with next just make sure its not too baggy or skin tight. You want to create a thin layer of air between each layer of clothing for insulation. That warm air that’s trapped between each layer will keep you warm and as a general rule, you’ll always be better off wearing three or four thinner layers of clothing rather than one thick one.
- Just because the weathers not at its best and everything looks a bit dull at the moment doesn’t mean your outfit should too. Colours like black, brown, khaki, navy and grey are all standard autumn/winter colours but why not take it up a gear and add a splash of purple, green, red etc to your look. These especially contrast well against the monochrome colours traditionally associated with this time of year to provide an injection of colour and a real focal point to an outfit. Why not try experimenting with patterns and materials to?
- A key tip when layering is remember to define the layer; a layer is essentially an item that can also been worn on its own and still look just as good. This is especially true if you are moving from cold to hot areas frequently. You do not want an amazing outfit that works well together but then when you lose the jacket and knitwear your outfit has no identity.
For example: If you have a thin plain white cotton t-shirt on with a military style cardigan and a great trench coat over the top it would look great altogether and hit that Military trend you are going for. You may even have the military boots on and slim dark jeans to really ram the outfit home. You look and feel amazing because it works. Now if you lost the jacket and knitwear indoors because they have the heating on, you now looked like a guy in plain t-shirt, jeans and boots. The whole identity of your outfit has gone. This would never of happened if you had simply started with a great thin white military style shirt or even a khaki polo shirt (military colours). Each layer should just reinforce the look you are going for.
- Along the same lines, keep different styles separate. As a basic rule, a scruffy old vest or bold graphic t-shirt should not be worn under a dress shirt. They are not congruent, and again if you get down to your under layers due to the environmental conditions you will look like a mish-mash of styles. Believe me when I say that this is not a good thing.
- Although layering can be used for both casual and formal occasions, it probably works best with casual as there are no limits. So bearing that in mind if you do want to experiment with layering in a formal situation it’s best you don’t go over 3 layers. A great shirt, with a blazer and then mac over the top is a standard formal layered outfit that works great.
- One of the first rules when it comes to fashion is, always feel comfortable. Whether its how you physically feel in the clothes or mentally when experimenting and trying something new. So with that in mind, if you cant put your arms down to your side or even scratch the back of your head, then its most likely you’ve got too many layers on and look far from on trend.
- And finally, remember that layering doesn’t always require you to wear a jacket or a coat. You can easily oversize thick shirts, knitwear and the like in order to give off the impression of a jacket. Get creative with it!
Basic Layered Looks
Below are a few looks that we’ve put together to give you some ideas on layering and to get you started. These use a variety of pieces from vests to shirts to gilets (the horror!) and jackets, just to give you an idea of how layers can sit on top of each other.