Introduction

In part 1 of this series of articles, we covered the simple techniques that can be used to layer your clothes properly and what fabrics are considered to be spring/summer or autumn/winter appropriate. But let’s be honest, that’s the easy part out of the way. Simple tricks are simple to master after all. This time we’re going to move onto a skill that will up your layering game to a whole new level.

That skill is mixing textures. This is something that is often attempted but, without the right sort of consideration, can turn a look into a disaster. This is a shame because, with a few simple guidelines, it can really give your outfit that sartorial ‘cherry on top’.

So where do you begin? With all these textures going around, how on earth are you supposed to pull them all together? Well, as always, bear in mind the layering rule of ‘thick to thin’ and then try out these simple techniques:

1. Monochromes

The easiest way to mix textures is to keep them all within the same neutral tone. Shades of grey, blue and black are simple, chic and classic in appearance and, due to their muted tone, pull together different textures effortlessly.

Multiple tones of blue is probably my favourite, because every guy looks great in blue and there are more options available at every price point to pull this off. However, grey on grey on grey has been a popular trend this spring/summer so that’s not to say it shouldn’t be tried.

As for black, mixing textures is the best (and some might say only) way to pull this off successfully within one look. For example, some raw black jeans will look perfect alongside a black brushed cotton dress shirt and silk knitted tie, with the different textures enabling each piece to stand out individually against the other. So why not channel your inner Johnny Cash and try it out?

Example Looks:

  • Allsaints Scythe ShirtAllsaints Scythe Shirt
  • Topman Blue Herringbone Heritage BlazerTopman Blue Herringbone Heritage Blazer
  • Reiss Mississippi Clean Raw Denim IndigoReiss Mississippi Clean Raw Denim Indigo
  • Browns Marled Cotton ShirtBrowns Marled Cotton Shirt
  • 5th & Main Black Slim Jeans5th & Main Black Slim Jeans
  • Reiss Cutler Knitted Silk Tie BlackReiss Cutler Knitted Silk Tie Black
  • American Apparel Fine Jersey Short Sleeve V-neckAmerican Apparel Fine Jersey Short Sleeve V-neck
  • Paul Smith Collection Donegal Flecked Jacket 133910Paul Smith Collection Donegal Flecked Jacket 133910
  • Allsaints Bronson Skinny Runner JeansAllsaints Bronson Skinny Runner Jeans
2. Keep It In The Family

A step on from monochromes, start using different tones from within the same family. Just as shades of blue worked, so will colours from the red, green or brown family. For an easy guide on how to pick colours from the same family, refer yourself to the colour wheel that can be found in my introductory guide to colour.

However, if this seems like a bit too much of a leap for you then why not just mix the monochromes instead? Grey, navy and black all look great together, so utilise these simple foundation colours to mix your different textures.

Example Looks:

  • Fred Perry Chambray ShirtFred Perry Chambray Shirt
  • Topman Camel Cotton Heritage BlazerTopman Camel Cotton Heritage Blazer
  • Gucci Flecked Classic Trousers 127634Gucci Flecked Classic Trousers 127634
  • Asos Polo Neck JumperAsos Polo Neck Jumper
  • Topman Berry Donkey Heritage BlazerTopman Berry Donkey Heritage Blazer
  • Paul Smith – Jeans 080k-312 Slant Damson TrousersPaul Smith - Jeans 080k-312 Slant Damson Trousers
  • Reiss Decon Long Sleeve Satin Stripe Shirt GreenReiss Decon Long Sleeve Satin Stripe Shirt Green
  • Luxury Harris Tweed Pure Wool Herringbone Woven JacketLuxury Harris Tweed Pure Wool Herringbone Woven Jacket
  • Balenciaga Stonewashed Corduroy And Denim Trousers 132124Balenciaga Stonewashed Corduroy And Denim Trousers 132124
3. Break it up! Break it up!

Another key technique is to break up textures with a simple solid item.

For example, we all know that denim and tweed are a match made in heaven. As soon as Autumn kicks off, you can’t move for guys in dark indigo jeans and grey tweed blazers! But the key to mixing these two textures is to put something solid and minimalistic between them – like a white v-neck tee or a light blue oxford cloth shirt.

By doing this, the focus isn’t entirely on the textures but the look as a whole – which, after all, is the art of mixing fabrics anyway. So why not reach for your trusty grey crew neck t-shirt the next time you’re trying to pair those brown tweed trousers with your denim jacket?

Example Looks:

  • Nudie Jeans Mens V-neck T-shirtNudie Jeans Mens V-neck T-shirt
  • Reiss Clinton Lightweight Patch Pkt Blazer DeerReiss Clinton Lightweight Patch Pkt Blazer Deer
  • Acne Navy Max New Raw Slim JeansAcne Navy Max New Raw Slim Jeans
  • American Apparel Tri-blend Pocket Short Sleeve T-shirtAmerican Apparel Tri-blend Pocket Short Sleeve T-shirt
  • Jean Shop Washed Selvedge Denim JacketJean Shop Washed Selvedge Denim Jacket
  • Asos Slim Fit Tweed Suit TrousersAsos Slim Fit Tweed Suit Trousers
  • Farah Vintage Sky Blue Hudson ShirtFarah Vintage Sky Blue Hudson Shirt
  • Gucci Palma Cashmere Jacket 127987Gucci Palma Cashmere Jacket 127987
  • Farhi By Nicole Farhi Navy Cord Straight JeansFarhi By Nicole Farhi Navy Cord Straight Jeans
General Guidelines

However, when deploying any of the above techniques to level up your layering game, it’s good to bear in mind a couple of universal laws as well. Firstly, when going for the ‘same family’ or ‘monochromatic’ looks, make sure you vary the texture each time you add a piece. Unless they come as a whole, such as suit jacket and trousers, you never want to keep adding the same textured material to a look. The denim tuxedo is the greatest of all these sins.

Secondly, if you want to wear the same sort of material multiple times it is OK to do so. A vast majority of American urban style is built around cotton but the key is to vary the texture of the fabric each time. For example, brushed cotton looks fine alongside waxed cotton and oxford cloth cotton. Brushed cotton five times, does not.

Lastly, try to pick pieces that will not compete with each other too much. Cords and denim are great and were made for each other; they are both durable, heavyweight and worker wear based pieces. However, either of those materials with an overly fashion forward leather jacket (asymmetrical, wrinkled with huge arse aviator lapels, for example) is just too much.

Final Word

So there we have it guys, three fool proof methods of layering and mixing textures together. As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, and tell the community the principles you like to stick to.

In the final part of this series, we will focus on specific looks you can put together, utilising fabrics that compliment each other, and what to do during those awkward transitional months.

Matt Allinson