The Art Of Winter Layering

Time To Layer Up

There’s no denying it, temperatures are definitely beginning to drop now. After a fairly mild autumn, it’s easy to forget how bitter a cold snap can be here in the UK, which is why we highly recommend mastering the art of winter layering before the frost really sets in. Layering is a styling technique many of us actually look forward to once the last autumn leaves have fallen because it can be as stylish as it is practical. This is, of course, providing it’s done right. Here’s how to combat the cold with panache this season…

On The Runway

As you would likely imagine, layering was a prominent theme across all AW14 collections, coming in many different forms. Here in London, E. Tautz opted for contrasting cropped jackets underneath tailored patterned overcoats, while vivid red duffle coats were worn over thick orange roll necks at Topman Design for a colour-blocked approach.

Quirky anti-trend brand YMC followed suit, combining chunky jumpers and oversized scarves with a variety of cable knits and denim jackets in its striking winter collection.

Elsewhere, Paul Smith sent a mishmash of dark and moody prints down the runway in Paris for an eclectically layered look; Ami, Tom Ford, Balenciaga, Ports 1961 and Trussardi took a sleek, tonal, monochrome approach to their layered ensembles; while the likes of Victor & Rolf, Michael Bastian and Tod’s layered cropped pieces together, crafting ensembles that would be ideal for the transition into winter:

Men's Layered Looks On The AW14 Runways

ami Viktor & Rolf Tom Ford Balenciaga E. Tautz Michael Bastian paul smith Ports 1961 tods Topman Design ymc Trussardi
Winter Layering Basics

When it comes to mastering the art of winter layering, it’s important you get the basics down before getting too creative.

For beginners, there is one simple rule that you should try to follow at all times: thin to thick. What this means is that when you’re putting together a look, the pieces that you layer together should get thicker and more heavyweight as you progress outwards.

This technique ensures that the most lightweight, breathable garments are closest to your skin, and the more durable, heavyweight pieces are protecting you from the elements – allowing you to remove or add layers easily, controlling your body temperature in the process.

More specific guidelines to bear in mind include:

  • Make sure you vary the texture and fabric each time you add a piece to your outfit. Unless they come as a whole, such as suit jacket and trousers, you never want to keep adding the same material to a look. Remember, the denim tuxedo is the greatest of all style sins.
  • Following on from the point above, if you want to wear the same type of material multiple times, you can – as long as you bear in mind texture. For example, cotton is one of the most commonly used fabrics within menswear, so limiting yourself to just one piece per look is not entirely practical. However, what you don’t want to do is combine brushed cotton together four times. Instead, try mixing brushed, waxed and thicker Oxford cloth cottons to provide natural definition.
  • Try to pick pieces that complement each other. For example, corduroy and denim work well together due to their outdoors/worker wear heritage and rugged, durable nature.
  • Your look should still work each time you add or remove an item. No matter what outfit you create, there will undoubtedly come a time when it becomes too warm for all of your layers, and if you haven’t considered how your ensemble breaks down and the pieces work independently, it can spoil your entire aesthetic. You don’t want to be the guy who is too afraid to take off his jumper in an overheated office just because his t-shirt doesn’t work with his tailored trousers.
  • Layering will dramatically affect your overall silhouette. Wearing multiple pieces of varying material and cut has the potential to completely alter some of your existing go-to outfits, sometimes ruining them completely. Think about how three to four upper layers can begin to look extremely top heavy when combined with skinny/slim legwear. Always consider the contrast between your top and bottom half.
  • Layering provides you with the perfect way to introduce colour or print to your looks. For the less confident, confining these hues/patterns to your under layers will help negate their impact due to the top layers only exposing part of the garment.
Lookbook Inspiration: Three Pieces

Below you will find some go-to combinations that utilise three key cold-weather staples. Shirts under knits under blazers, tees under sweaters under bomber jackets – the options are endless and only limited by your own imagination:

Men's Winter Layering Outfit Inspiration - Utilising Three Pieces

j crew october 2014 h&m aw14 he by mango winter 2014 massimo dutti aw13 club monaco aw14 house of fraser aw14 he by mango winter 2014 new look aw13 river island holloway road aw13 digel aw14 massimo dutti november 2014 barneys aw12 emidio tucci aw14 forever21 aw14 reiss aw13
Lookbook Inspiration: Four Or More Pieces

Now we progress onto slightly more heavily layered looks. Four pieces can often look extremely bulky and top heavy, unless you carefully balance your choice of textures and stick to slim cuts.

Below you will find a variety of looks that utilise four items effectively:

Men's Winter Layering Outfit Inspiration - Utilising Four Pieces

j crew aw13 j lindeberg aw12 brunello cucinelli aw14 simons aw14 boomerang aw132 he by mango winter 2014 m&s aw13 digel aw14 hugo boss aw14 house of fraser howick aw14 m&s aw14 brunello cucinelli aw13
How To Wear: Outfit Examples

When it comes to creating your own outfits, why not try the slightly less popular knitwear over knitwear approach by layering a chunky ribbed cardigan in bottle green over a white tee and thin gauge grey roll neck?

Finish with slim-fit black jeans, hi-tops and your choice of winter outerwear for a stylish look made up of colours, textures and shapes that equally contrast and complement one another:

  • Reiss Bless Crew Neck T-shirt WhiteReiss Bless Crew Neck T-shirt White
  • John Smedley Belvoir Rollneck Merino Wool SweaterJohn Smedley Belvoir Rollneck Merino Wool Sweater
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Cable-knit Wool Shawl-collar CardiganPolo Ralph Lauren Cable-knit Wool Shawl-collar Cardigan
  • A.p.c. Unstructured Harris Tweed Wool OvercoatA.p.c. Unstructured Harris Tweed Wool Overcoat
  • Reiss Maurice Slim-fit Twill Jeans BlackReiss Maurice Slim-fit Twill Jeans Black
  • Allsaints Boundary Hi TopAllsaints Boundary Hi Top

Another take on winter layering that is both timeless and on-trend is to opt for an off-white cable knit jumper.

Practical and warm, it makes the ideal layering piece. Try wearing yours over a basic tee and teaming with a heavyweight bomber, winter chinos, chunky socks and smart leather boots for a look that is full of depth and character:

  • Eleven Paris Arran Knit JumperEleven Paris Arran Knit Jumper
  • Allsaints Eddie Bomber JacketAllsaints Eddie Bomber Jacket
  • New Look Boot With Toe Cap DetailNew Look Boot With Toe Cap Detail
  • Reiss Azera Horizontal Stripe T-shirt GreyReiss Azera Horizontal Stripe T-shirt Grey
  • Reiss Timpani Twill Cotton Trousers BordeauxReiss Timpani Twill Cotton Trousers Bordeaux
  • Pantherella Ribbed Marled Cashmere-blend SocksPantherella Ribbed Marled Cashmere-blend Socks

When it comes to tackling the morning commute, it’s all about investing in a suit that offers warmth and natural texture.

A double-breasted navy version crafted from pure wool or flannel is ideal for layering over a sky blue chambray shirt and underneath a tailored overcoat during your journey to work:

  • He By Mango Double-breasted Suit BlazerHe By Mango Double-breasted Suit Blazer
  • Peter Werth Wool OvercoatPeter Werth Wool Overcoat
  • A.p.c. Lightweight Chambray ShirtA.p.c. Lightweight Chambray Shirt
  • Ted Baker Knitted TieTed Baker Knitted Tie

Going on a city break one weekend this winter? You’ll want to make the most of every moment so wear something that will take you straight from the Eurostar to a chic city bar. Opt for a crisp white Oxford shirt under a thin gauge cardigan and textured blazer to set the right smart-casual tone.

Lose the blazer when checking in or out, as well as other moments that you might feel flustered and hot. Should the weather take an Arctic turn, you could even throw a padded parka on over the top.

A pair of refined twill chinos will help keep the look grounded, as will your chunky-soled brogues:

  • Allsaints Redondo ShirtAllsaints Redondo Shirt
  • John Smedley Bryn Fine-knit Merino Wool CardiganJohn Smedley Bryn Fine-knit Merino Wool Cardigan
  • He By Mango Nylon-blend Feather Down ParkaHe By Mango Nylon-blend Feather Down Parka
  • Ted Baker Lousjak Contrast Trim BlazerTed Baker Lousjak Contrast Trim Blazer
  • Officine Generale Regular-fit Cotton-twill ChinosOfficine Generale Regular-fit Cotton-twill Chinos
  • Rjr Designer Chocolate Kew Leather BroguesRjr Designer Chocolate Kew Leather Brogues
Finishing Touches

Unsurprisingly, accessories play a huge part in perfecting the art of layering. From chunky scarves to woolly hats, warming finishing touches will add both practicality and individuality to all of your ensembles.

Last month we showed you how to brighten up your cold-weather outfits, which is exactly what you can do with your winter accessories. Try out colour-blocking this season by wrapping an oversized scarf in sky blue around a mustard waffle knit jumper. Keep your trousers dark to anchor the look and keep the emphasis firmly on your upper half.

In case you missed it, another topic we recently covered was key winter hats for 2014. In this, we mentioned the importance of the fitted beanie, which is ideal for injecting further texture and depth to your outfit. Try one in a citric shade with a navy pea coat, worn over a woollen jumper in oatmeal. Complete the look by matching with tapered trousers in a slightly paler blue than your coat, chestnut loafers and apricot-hued socks.

Back in the boardroom, textured ties can add character and personality to your formal wear. Try teaming a knitted version in plum with an on-trend, mid-grey flannel suit to cut a dashing silhouette in the office while remaining nice and toasty as you dart from meeting to meeting when the snow begins to fall.

  • Austin Reed Brown Herringbone Flat CapAustin Reed Brown Herringbone Flat Cap
  • Asos Lambswool BeanieAsos Lambswool Beanie
  • Collezione Leather Gloves With ThinsulateCollezione Leather Gloves With Thinsulate
  • He By Mango Cable-knit ScarfHe By Mango Cable-knit Scarf
  • Barbour Check Tartan ScarfBarbour Check Tartan Scarf
  • He By Mango Wool-blend GlovesHe By Mango Wool-blend Gloves
  • He By Mango Wool TieHe By Mango Wool Tie
  • Reiss Knitted Slim TieReiss Knitted Slim Tie
  • He By Mango Herringbone Wool-blend TieHe By Mango Herringbone Wool-blend Tie
  • M&s Collection New Best Of British Pure Wool Checked TieM&s Collection New Best Of British Pure Wool Checked Tie
  • John Lewis & Co. Mosley Slub Wool Tie WineJohn Lewis & Co. Mosley Slub Wool Tie Wine
  • Drakes Woven Cashmere TieDrakes Woven Cashmere Tie
Final Word

We all know that winter has many flaws, but the sartorial opportunities the season brings with it are certainly not any of them. For AW14, embrace the notion of ‘more is more’ and layer up in contrasting colours and fabrics, while playing with different shapes and textures.

As long as you stick to the guidelines above, we’re certain you’ll be pleased with the outcome.

Make sure you let us know what pieces you’re planning to layer up in this season in the comments section below…

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