Layering In The Summer Season

We all know how unpredictable the British summertime can be, which is why it’s always good to have a back-up plan when it comes to our wardrobes.

Whether it’s a waterproof jacket to shield off sudden showers, or a collection of comfy knits for those evenings when the temperature drops, the only way to cope with the uncertainty of our (supposedly) warmer months is by mastering the art of layering.

The Layering Effect

Sometimes summer layering can be as easy as wearing a vest or extra wardrobe basics under your shirt and blazer on a cool July day. Yet we’ve all stepped out of the house wrapped up in layers when the weather’s taken an unexpected turn, and suddenly we’re sweltering.

This is why the key to layering at this time of year is opting for pieces you can easily throw on and take off, depending on which turn our notoriously changeable weather is taking. It’s about setting an outfit foundation that you can gradually build on as the day gets later and the temperatures get cooler.

So, what are the pieces every man needs in his capsule collection? And what are some go-to combinations that you can introduce into your style repertoire?

Key Piece: The Summer Blazer

Soft tailoring is essential for the warmer months, especially when you want to look put together in the office or for an important event.

Dressing for summer is all about keeping it simple and comfortable, so opt for a lightweight blazer in a slightly more relaxed fit than you would traditionally choose in autumn/winter. This will promote air circulation, which aids the removal of both moisture (read: sweat) and heat.

Your jacket needs to be lightweight enough to layer over a shirt or tee on cooler days without feeling oppressively hot, so cotton- and linen-blends, seersucker and tropical wools are fabrics you should be prioritising due to their breathable open weaves and ability to help regulate body temperature.

Lighter hues are much more appropriate for the summer months than darker colours as they reflect light (rather than absorbing it), keeping you cool. A jacket in a shade of white, cream or beige is not only on trend for SS14, but also a timeless and extremely versatile piece that you will continue to get good use out of for many years to come. Alternative colours to consider include lighter shades of grey, blue and brown.

Finally, look for unstructured and unlined (or partially-lined) styles – they feature minimal padding and will allow you to receive the full benefit of your summer fabric choice.

Men's Lightweight and Summer-Appropriate Blazers - Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

he by mango summer 2014he by mango spring 2013gant ss14massimo dutti may 2014ovadia & sons ss13jaeger ss13reiss 2014reiss ss14he by mango ss14next ss14gap ss12massimo dutti april 2014
Current Styles
  • Topman Dark Blue Cotton BlazerTopman Dark Blue Cotton Blazer
  • Asos Slim Fit Blazer In LinenAsos Slim Fit Blazer In Linen
  • Reiss Miami B Patterned Two Button Blazer StoneReiss Miami B Patterned Two Button Blazer Stone
  • Uniqlo Men Dry Light Weight JacketUniqlo Men Dry Light Weight Jacket
  • He By Mango Linen Cotton-blend Suit BlazerHe By Mango Linen Cotton-blend Suit Blazer
  • He By Mango Houndstooth Suit BlazerHe By Mango Houndstooth Suit Blazer
  • Asos Slim Fit Blazer In CottonAsos Slim Fit Blazer In Cotton
  • He By Mango Herringbone Linen BlazerHe By Mango Herringbone Linen Blazer
  • Raleigh Denim Slim-fit Unstructured Linen And Cotton-blend BlazerRaleigh Denim Slim-fit Unstructured Linen And Cotton-blend Blazer
Summer Knitwear

Breathable, open weave knits are crucial when it comes to layering up in a refined way.

Thin cotton v-neck sweaters in navy or grey never fail to look sharp when pulled over a crisp white linen or poplin shirt – a go-to combination for the office on chilly summer days. Pair with a slim-cut suit, seasonal tie and leather Derbies during the working week, switching for rolled-up chinos and slip-on suede loafers for smart-casual occasions.

A lightweight cardigan is another must-own, whether done up or left unbuttoned. It makes sense to have a handful of sweaters and cardigans that you can rely on, ranging from thin to chunky, which will take you from summer right through to autumn.

Lookbook Inspiration: Smart Summer Knitwear Layering

How To Layer In Summer - Men's Knitwear - Smart/Formal Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

suitsupply ss14suitsupply ss14suitsupply ss14he by mango spring 2013perry ellis ss14he by mango summer 2014bally ss15CERRUTI 1881 ss13ovadia & sons ss13massimo dutti may 2014ted baker ss13ted baker ss14
Lookbook Inspiration: Casual Summer Knitwear Layering

How To Layer In Summer - Men's Knitwear - Casual Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

allsaints ss13el burgues ss13ovadia & sons ss13pepe jeans ss14scotch & soda ss14selected ss14m&s ss14tommy hilfiger summer 2014reiss ss13massimo dutti may 2013massimo dutti march 2014
Key Pieces
  • Paul Smith Jeans Jumper In Crew NeckPaul Smith Jeans Jumper In Crew Neck
  • Allsaints Fellan CardiganAllsaints Fellan Cardigan
  • He By Mango Textures Cotton SweaterHe By Mango Textures Cotton Sweater
  • Asos Cardigan In CottonAsos Cardigan In Cotton
  • He By Mango Silk Cotton-blend Premium CardiganHe By Mango Silk Cotton-blend Premium Cardigan
  • Reiss Jude V-neck Cotton Jumper French BlueReiss Jude V-neck Cotton Jumper French Blue
  • Reiss Elm Lightweight Crew Neck Jumper RoseReiss Elm Lightweight Crew Neck Jumper Rose
  • Incotex Knitted Cotton And Linen-blend SweaterIncotex Knitted Cotton And Linen-blend Sweater
  • John Smedley Brock V-neck Sea Island Cotton SweaterJohn Smedley Brock V-neck Sea Island Cotton Sweater
  • Reiss Birch Piped Lightweight Cardigan Airforce BlueReiss Birch Piped Lightweight Cardigan Airforce Blue
  • Beams Plus Knitted-linen CardiganBeams Plus Knitted-linen Cardigan
  • Topman Navy And White Mix Yarn CardiganTopman Navy And White Mix Yarn Cardigan
Shirt Layering

If you want to take a more casual approach, one simple and easy combination to pull off is a shirt over a cotton tee or racer back vest.

Neutral linen, traditional chambray or cotton check shirts make perfect top layers, and can be left fully open for an effortlessly cool look. For the more fashion forward, why not try doing up one or two of your top buttons and leaving the bottom half of your shirt open?

Alternatively, kill two birds with one stone and opt for an over-shirt that works as a shirt or makeshift jacket. Designed to be slightly thicker than your average shirt, they’re perfect for festivals, BBQs and other summer events that require you to be outside well into the evening.

Men's Summer Shirt Layering - Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

massimo dutti june 2013sarar ss14asos ss14pepe jeans ss14minimum summer 2013allsaints ss13selected ss13dunhill ss15dunhill ss15farah ss14Scotch & Soda Amsterdams Blauw ss14asos ss14

But this is not to say you should completely write off actual outerwear during the summer months…

Summer Outerwear

Outerwear is one of the most important aspects of your wardrobe when it comes to layering, and it’s worth investing in a quality warm-weather jacket that is both lightweight enough to wear when the sun is shining, yet offers some protection against the evening chill or sudden showers.

Keep it clean and contemporary and opt for cotton-blend, nylon or linen construction – leave heavy fabrics like wool, leather, suede and raw denim for autumn/winter.

A classic waist-length, zip-up bomber or varsity jacket is a modern year-round essential, whether it’s used as your top layer during the summer months or worn underneath a thick overcoat in winter. Key styles we are seeing this year include cotton-twill blends and waxed canvas/linen, the latter of which are water resistant yet still light and breathable. Perfect.

Alternatively, an unlined, hooded waterproof coat can look practical and stylish, so long as you keep colour and detailing in mind. A bold coloured version teamed with chinos in another vibrant shade will see you nail the current colour-blocking trend with ease and confidence, while you remain warm and dry.

Another great thing about this type of jacket is that they are often easy to fold up and throw in your bag, making them a practical choice for summer festivals and much more convenient than lugging an umbrella around with you on a day-to-day basis.

Men's Lightweight Summer Outerwear Layering Lookbook

massimo dutti june 2014Nordstrom 2014austin reed x nick hart ss14suitsupply ss14el burgues ss13burton ss14Enharmonic TAVERN ss14scotch & soda ss14bally ss15reiss ss13allsaints ss14zara play 2014
Key Styles
  • Gant Rugger Bomber Jacket In LinenGant Rugger Bomber Jacket In Linen
  • He By Mango Reversible Bomber JacketHe By Mango Reversible Bomber Jacket
  • Asos Belted MacAsos Belted Mac
  • Folk Lightweight Cotton-blend RaincoatFolk Lightweight Cotton-blend Raincoat
  • Reiss Ricco Modern Harrington Jacket CreamReiss Ricco Modern Harrington Jacket Cream
  • He By Mango Waterproof Cotton-blend Trench CoatHe By Mango Waterproof Cotton-blend Trench Coat
  • Richard James Linen And Cotton-blend Bomber JacketRichard James Linen And Cotton-blend Bomber Jacket
  • Suitsupply Wax Linen Havana BomberHAVANA BOMBER JACKET
  • Hentsch Man Cotton-twill Bomber JacketHentsch Man Cotton-twill Bomber Jacket
Creative Layering

Although jackets, knits and shirts are what immediately come to mind when layering, it’s important not to forget your legwear – particularly the balance between your top and bottom half.

This summer, why not try juxtaposing aesthetics by wearing a chunky knit over a shirt and teaming with lightweight shorts? It might seem like a strange concept at first, but the results can lead to you coming across as confident and stylish while maintaining a comfortable body temperature. Win win.

In the same way, try combining an on trend long length jacket with shorts to create a bold and striking contrast:

Juxtaposing Top and Bottom Half Aesthetics - Men's Summer Layering Lookbook

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Finishing Touches

Accessories are important to keep in mind when it comes to finishing off your look this season. A summer scarf is a handy piece to reach for on those brisker days, either worn alone above your t-shirt or underneath a lightweight jacket.

Again, consider fabric here – we’re obviously not talking about a woollen scarf. Think silk, linen or cotton for your stylish yet practical accessory:

  • Reiss Weber Striped Lightweight Scarf GreenReiss Weber Striped Lightweight Scarf Green
  • Reiss Bell Check Linen Scarf BlueReiss Bell Check Linen Scarf Blue
  • He By Mango Printed Lightweight ScarfHe By Mango Printed Lightweight Scarf
  • Loro Piana Striped Cashmere And Silk-blend ScarfLoro Piana Striped Cashmere And Silk-blend Scarf
  • Ted Baker Dotme Dot Pattern ScarfTed Baker Dotme Dot Pattern Scarf
  • He By Mango Check Cotton ScarfHe By Mango Check Cotton Scarf

Socks are also worth bearing in mind throughout the summer months, as they can bring both warmth and subtle style to your ensemble.

Most men choose to go sockless with their shorts, chinos and trousers these days, but don’t underestimate the power of a stylish sock. Many come in bright colours and on trend patterns that will help inject life and personality into any look:

  • Pantherella Ribbed Sea Island Cotton-blend SocksPantherella Ribbed Sea Island Cotton-blend Socks
  • Uniqlo Men Colour Socks CUniqlo Men Colour Socks C
  • Falke Cool 24/7 Cotton-blend SocksFalke Cool 24/7 Cotton-blend Socks
  • Pringle 3 Pack Invisible SocksPringle 3 Pack Invisible Socks
  • Topman Grey Textured Invisible SocksTopman Grey Textured Invisible Socks
  • Falke Step Invisible Cotton-blend SocksFalke Step Invisible Cotton-blend Socks
Final Word

When it comes down to it, summer layering doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. Keep colour and fabric in the forefront of your mind, ensuring whatever pieces you choose are as breathable as possible. Besides, here’s hoping we’ll need to layer as little as possible this summer so we can work on our much-needed tans.

So, what are your favourite pieces to layer up in on chillier summer days and nights? And what go-to combinations do you reach for during the warm-weather months?

Let us know in the comments section below…