By now we’ve all begun reaching into the depths of our wardrobes, hunting for knitwear, coats and accessories that were packed away for the summer. While accustomed to this cyclical seasonal habit, many still fail to recognise that the cold weather brings with it an opportunity to exercise the ‘art’ of layering.

Conquering this technique, like most things, takes practise, knowledge and should reflect what you’re actually trying to accomplish. There are rules and guidelines to be considered while, at the same time, you have to be able to know when it’s acceptable to throw the rulebook out the window and consider the guidelines in a looser manner.

Creative Layering

Before we begin throwing ideas and outfit inspiration out there, it’s a matter of learning and perfecting the basics – which this collection of prior FashionBeans reading will do exceptionally well:

Creative Layering Lookbook

Today we will be focusing on creative ways of layering outfits; utilising pieces in a slightly unconventional way. The lookbook below should help get creative juices flowing and show how basic wardrobe staples can be given new life through the development of your layering technique:

Men's Creative Layering Lookbook

Example 1: The Denim Jacket

Make use of a denim jacket as a key layering tool this season. Worn between your under layers and outerwear, the jacket provides much needed texture to any ensemble and is versatile enough to work with nearly everything in your existing wardrobe.

A trench coat over the top is lightweight enough to avoid overheating but will also keep the chill out. As an investment, they are equally perfect, especially as the rain becomes a more prevalent daily occurrence. Button the denim jacket a little and either belt the trench at the back or leave it unbelted and open to show off your layers underneath.

Simple navy chinos, brown leather work boots and corresponding gloves finish off this everyday, easy to wear look. You could also individualise the outfit by working in some coloured trousers instead of subdued navy chinos. Burgundy would be a great choice, as the hue would complement all elements of the look and is right on trend at the moment.

  • Topman White Dot Print Long-sleeve ShirtTopman White Dot Print Long-sleeve Shirt
  • Allsaints Bloomsbury Denim JacketAllsaints Bloomsbury Denim Jacket
  • Burberry London Cotton-gabardine Trench CoatBurberry London Cotton-gabardine Trench Coat
  • Reiss Wickham Pressed Chinos NavyReiss Wickham Pressed Chinos Navy
  • Reiss Tumble Textured Leather Gloves ChocolateReiss Tumble Textured Leather Gloves Chocolate
  • Common Projects Mens Work BootCommon Projects Mens Work Boot
Example 2: Roll Neck & Shirt

This second look is one that was particularly prevalent on the autumn/winter runway shows this year. Prada especially used the pairing as a dominant feature in their collection – a roll neck worn under a shirt.

Whether you’ve buttoned up the collar and added a tie or left the top button undone, the roll neck edging above the neckline adds a sophisticated touch to an everyday staple. It’s also a subtle way of working a trending piece of knitwear into your daily outfits without appearing too one-dimensional.

  • Yves Saint Laurent Lightweight Merino Wool Rollneck SweaterYves Saint Laurent Lightweight Merino Wool Rollneck Sweater
  • Asos Smart ShirtAsos Smart Shirt
  • Reiss Picton Checked Suit GreyReiss Picton Checked Suit Grey
  • Topman Premium Burgundy Art Deco Design Silk Pocket SquareTopman Premium Burgundy Art Deco Design Silk Pocket Square
  • Mulberry Elkington Satchel 145110Mulberry Elkington Satchel 145110
  • Grenson Ellery Brown Monk BroguesGrenson Ellery Brown Monk Brogues
Example 3: The Belted Cardigan

Belted cardigans have slipped, almost undetected, into the menswear game this season. Featuring on the runway at both Dolce & Gabbana and Michael Bastian, this standout piece is a great addition to any contemporary wardrobe.

Where a conscious effort to layer it is concerned, it works best beneath an on trend parka or other suitably heavy-duty coat. Alternatively, it can work as the top layer, tied loosely over a suit, other knitwear or even just with a t-shirt/shirt for when milder days make an appearance.

For this look we’ve erred away from the blazer to push our waistcoat to the forefront of formality. It’s evident that, despite being worn under the loosely belted cardigan, the reserved, office-ready ethos remains. A knitted tie works well with the cardigan and brings another texture to the look.

  • Reiss Buster Long Sleeve Plain Shirt With Gold Pin WhiteReiss Buster Long Sleeve Plain Shirt With Gold Pin White
  • Asos Waistcoat In GreyAsos Waistcoat In Grey
  • Topman Red Long Pattern CardiganTopman Red Long Pattern Cardigan
  • Asos Slim Fit Suit Trousers In GreyAsos Slim Fit Suit Trousers In Grey
  • Drakes Reversible Knitted Wool TieDrakes Reversible Knitted Wool Tie
  • Paul Smith Shoes Chocolate Leather Toe Cap Earl ShoesPaul Smith Shoes Chocolate Leather Toe Cap Earl Shoes
Example 4: The Gilet

Our final look focuses on the gilet, something that has enjoyed a meteoric rise as a menswear staple over past seasons. The sleeveless and often lightweight construction of this piece makes it ideal for layering, allowing you to get rather creative without bulking up your outfit.

The gilet can easily be worn under or over (in the case of lightweight styles) a blazer to add the extra insulation needed to keep away the winter chill. Versatility is key in a man’s minimal wardrobe; a gilet also pairs well with knitwear, whether it’s a crew, V or roll neck.

A knitted blazer is a great autumn/winter alternative to your standard jacket and leans more to the casual side of the spectrum. Layer an unbuttoned gilet over the top of the correctly fastened blazer and pair with a t-shirt, jeans and boots combination for a great smart-casual look. Ensure your outfit is seasonally appropriate with the correct accessories or even a jumper and shirt underneath rather than a t-shirt.

  • Allsaints Saints Long Sleeved HenleyAllsaints Saints Long Sleeved Henley
  • Hartford Knitted Wool BlazerHartford Knitted Wool Blazer
  • Selected GiletSelected Gilet
  • Levis Raw Selvedge 511 Slim JeansLevis Raw Selvedge 511 Slim Jeans
  • Topman Black Touchscreen GlovesTopman Black Touchscreen Gloves
  • Grenson Declan Brown Chelsea BootsGrenson Declan Brown Chelsea Boots
Final Word

Layering can, surprisingly, be quite a complex skill to master. It’s important to appreciate that it’s not necessarily as simple as throwing a jumper in between your shirt and coat; although that is the basic principle involved.

This season, why not get creative with your layering and try to think of new and unique ways you can utilise the existing pieces of your wardrobe. It can be as simple as mixing two pieces together that you may never have considered before, or switching around the order of your layers and experimenting to find your signature look.

But now we want to hear what you think:

  • What are you favourite layering items?
  • What are your go to layering combinations?
  • Is your wardrobe comprehensive enough to implement our advice?
  • Have you got any of your own layering tips?

Let us know in the comment section…