Thinking Outside The Box

When winter comes, the name of the game is layering. And it really is an either love it or hate it sort of thing for most people. Some feel too restricted and confined wearing so many layers and would much rather stick to one ‘big arse’ coat. Others relish the idea of being able to add new dimensions to their look with the possibility of adding or removing layers as the weather changes throughout the day. I guess it just comes down to whether you’re a summer or a winter person.

We’ve been through the basics of layering already: make sure to layer thin to thick and be aware of the textures and fabrics that you’re incorporating.

The real trick, as with most things in this menswear game, is how to put a twist on it. How can you layer your clothing in a unique, interesting but still stylish way? Let’s face it, there are only so many times you can do the whole shirt-jumper-jacket look, right? The good news is that now you understand the rules, you can go about breaking them. Or bending them slightly. It depends on how hardcore you really are.

With no more sartorial piffle on my part, here are a few ideas to help you start thinking outside of that pesky layering box.

Experimenting With Layering
The Denim Jacket

Everyone’s favourite spring/summer jacket can also be utilised during the colder months.

Just make sure that when you purchase this little beauty it fits you like a glove – and bear in mind that denim wears in the more you use it.

Having it fit you this way means the jacket should easily fit underneath a coat or even a suit jacket, giving you an extra layer of protection from the elements and a nice contrast of texture within your outfit.

Experimenting With Layering - The Denim Jacket

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  • Allsaints Keswick Denim JacketAllsaints Keswick Denim Jacket
  • Cheap Monday Tobias Denim JacketCheap Monday Tobias Denim Jacket
  • River Island Denim JacketRiver Island Denim Jacket
  • Topman Oversized Denim Western JacketTopman Oversized Denim Western Jacket
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  • Jean.machine J.m-4 Slim-fit Overdyed-denim JacketJean.machine J.m-4 Slim-fit Overdyed-denim Jacket
  • Religion Black Denim JacketReligion Black Denim Jacket
  • J.crew Washed-denim JacketJ.crew Washed-denim Jacket
I Be Shawl-in’ Part 1

I’m not going to lie, shawl neck cardigans are a big favourite of mine when it comes to layering in the winter. It doesn’t matter if they’re huge chunky cable knits or a fine gauge number; they always end up making an appearance.

My go-to for a couple of seasons now has been to pair it with tailored pieces in rugged fabrics like tweed and corduroy. For example, try a pair of brown corduroy trousers with an indigo chambray dress shirt under a grey tweed waistcoat. If you are heading out into the elements, throw over a navy shawl cardigan made from hefty wool to give your look that extra rugged, masculine edge.

Experimenting With Layering - The Shawl Neck Cardigan

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  • Shore Leave Grey Flecked Shawl CardiganShore Leave Grey Flecked Shawl Cardigan
  • Uniqlo Men Shawl Collar CardiganUniqlo Men Shawl Collar Cardigan
  • Apc Chale A Cotes Blanc Casse CardiganApc Chale A Cotes Blanc Casse Cardigan
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  • Superdry Shawl Quilted CardiganSuperdry Shawl Quilted Cardigan
  • Dunhill Ribbed Shawl-collar Wool CardiganDunhill Ribbed Shawl-collar Wool Cardigan
  • Esprit CardiganEsprit Cardigan
  • Asos Cable CardiganAsos Cable Cardigan
  • Textured Shawl CardiganTextured Shawl Cardigan
  • Ps By Paul Smith Textured-knit Cotton CardiganPs By Paul Smith Textured-knit Cotton Cardigan
  • Ted Baker Brurinz – Shawl Neck CardiganTed Baker Brurinz - Shawl Neck Cardigan
  • Ted Baker Bosport – Tweed Front CardiganTed Baker Bosport - Tweed Front Cardigan
I Be Shawl-in’ Part 2

But that’s not all a shawl neck cardigan is good for. A finer gauge version made from a more luxurious material, perhaps with a pattern, can be layered underneath as well.

You can use it in the same way you would the denim jacket – but I prefer to layer them under a suit jacket or blazer with a shirt and tie. Not only do they provide insulation, you can also flip the collar and have it act as a makeshift scarf.

If you’re heading out in the evening, just lose the jacket for a perfect smart-casual look.

Gilet, The Other Way

We’ve all seen people using a gilet as an outer layer when they’re out and about. Even Bruno Cucinelli enjoys layering them over a suit. But why not mix it up and layer it under your suit? It will add a nice point of difference to your everyday work look and keep you warm when making the commute.

Obviously, take it off when you get indoors – that would just be weird.

Experimenting With Layering - The Gilet

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  • Samsoe Samsoe Quilted GiletSamsoe Samsoe Quilted Gilet
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  • Barbour Bosun Quilt Gilet BlackBarbour Bosun Quilt Gilet Black
  • Penfield Clermont Shawl Collar GiletPenfield Clermont Shawl Collar Gilet
  • Penfield Outback Insulated GiletPenfield Outback Insulated Gilet
  • Easy Padded GiletEasy Padded Gilet
  • Polo Ralph Lauren J6967 Aviator Epsom VestPolo Ralph Lauren J6967 Aviator Epsom Vest
  • Dunhill Reversible Padded Wool GiletDunhill Reversible Padded Wool Gilet
Knits On Knits On Knits

And occasionally on shirts. Basically, what I mean by this is, use your knitwear more than once fools!

It comes in all shapes and sizes after all. A thin roll neck under a cardigan? Check. A fine v-neck jumper under a flannel plaid shirt? Check. Or why not swap the cardigan and the shirt around? I’ve seen plenty of people rocking their roll necks under beefier shirts made out of flannel or corduroy this season and it looks pretty sophisticated.

Remember, think outside the box and find out what works for you.

Experimenting With Layering - Knitwear & Shirts

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Final Word

So there you have it, a few examples of how to go about layering your looks differently this season. Obviously, these looks lend themselves to mild/medium cold days. If it is cold as sin outside, then by all means do break out the ‘huge arse’ parka and walk around in the snow, Michelin Man style.

As always, I want to hear what you guys are thinking, so make sure to leave your tasty mind treats in the oven that is the comments section below.

Matt Allinson