Alternative Layering Techniques

Last week on FashionBeans we brought you a comprehensive guide to winter layering. This showed you how to effortlessly deal with whatever Mother Nature throws at you over the coming months by combining multiple pieces and textures to create looks that are full of depth and character.

But let’s be honest, once you’ve mastered the basics, layering can get a little repetitive. If you’re feeling lazy it can be as simple as donning some jeans and an Oxford shirt, then adding a big heavy duty coat over the top. If you’re slightly more advanced it may even involve slipping some form of knitwear in-between these layers, along with the incorporation of seasonally-appropriate fabrics like tweed, corduroy or lambswool.

Yet no matter what, the same rule is always applied and followed religiously: layer from thin to thick. In other words, the thinner the layer, the closer to your body it should be. This way you don’t restrict your movement and it allows you to regulate body temperature by removing or adding a single piece.

So what happens when you do get bored of following this rule day in, day out until May rolls back around? Well, why not take the lead from our female counterparts and start to experiment with alternative ways of layering?

Obviously the rule of thin to thick should still be loosely followed so that you remain comfortable and can function efficiently during the day, but why not incorporate pieces that you wouldn’t usually think to use or play around with fabrics and proportions? Things don’t always have to be so black and white when it comes to menswear these days, so we’re here to give you a few ideas of what you can do in the grey area of alternative layering…

Some Clothes Are Bigger Than Others

Within a casual setting, changing the proportions of your layering can add an individual touch to your outfit. A popular technique amongst streetwear designers and celebrities such as Kanye West and Tyler the Creator, it is extremely simple to do.

Just think along the same lines as thin to thick, but this time make sure that the layers closer to your body are longer in size that the ones outside. For example, you could layer an oversized tee under a bomber jacket/sweatshirt, with a thin neutral coloured mac over the top. Your layers move from long to short to long again, creating a dramatic contrast that helps to define and separate each piece.

The same can be done with longline shirts under crew neck jumpers or denim jackets. Experiment at home or in the dressing room of your favourite store and find out what works for your personal style – then wear it with rock solid confidence and don’t second-guess yourself.

For more ideas on how to nail the aesthetic, read our guide to this season’s big anti-fit trend.

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Gilets, The Best A Man Can Get

Every man and his dog seems to own a gilet these days. They’re worn over everything from rugby tops to suit jackets and are available at every price point, from high street to high fashion.

But why not mix things up a bit and start utilising them as a middle layer? This works especially well when wearing a suit: make sure the gilet is thin enough to slide underneath your jacket and it will add a nice point of different to your look for the morning commute.

They also work extremely well beneath traditional winter outerwear – think overcoats, parkas, pea coats and duffles – especially in bold or contrasting colours. Why not try an on-trend orange version underneath a tailored grey/navy overcoat to add a shot of life to your cold-weather looks?

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Shirts On Shirts On Shirts

Personally, I’m a huge fan of layering shirts over each other during the colder months.

The trick here is to remember that each shirt comes in its own weight and fabric and they need to be layered accordingly. One of my go-to looks is a chambray dress shirt and grey wool tie combination worn beneath a thicker, buffalo plaid overshirt in flannel.

Finished with some dark wash denim and heavy duty boots this is the type of look that can take you from brunch with your lady friend to the bar with your boys in the evening.

Other great top shirts include heavyweight denim versions and cord designs in black and navy.

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Knits On Knits On Knits

Knitwear also looks great when layered over the top of each other.

A merino wool v-neck jumper under a thick shawl neck cardigan? Sure, go for it. A cashmere roll neck under a knitted blazer? Works every time.

Just remember to keep the thinner layer under the thicker one and you won’t go wrong.

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Italian And British, Together At Last

This is a technique that has been around for ages but is only just starting to be used regularly by men: take luxurious Italian knits and combine them with traditional British tailoring.

An example? Try a merino wool roll neck with a tweed blazer. Or a buttery soft cashmere jumper with a well-cut Glen plaid waistcoat.

It’s all about juxtaposing the chic and sophisticated nature of Italian clothing with the structure and tradition of British pieces, such as three-pieces suits and hunting jackets.

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Create A Contrast

Another great layering technique, try creating a contrast by juxtaposing formal and casual pieces together in a single outfit.

For example, a pretty standard look for me sees a chunky shawl neck cardigan layered over a shirt and waistcoat. But you could also try mixing suit trousers with t-shirts and leather bombers; layering your denim jacket under a tailored overcoat; or slipping a thin gauge shawl neck cardigan/jumper under your blazer.

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Final Word

Once you’ve mastered the layering basics, try experimenting with your standard combinations to produce original looks that ooze flair and creativity. Whether you combine two of your favourite shirts together or use your gilet as a middle layer, there are so many ways you can make your outfit unique to you this season.

But now we want to hear what you have to say – how do you like to add a twist to your layered outfits? What are your favourite layering pieces you own? Have we missed out a really great combination?

Let us know in the comments section…