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A STYLE GUIDE TO LAYERING MEN'S CLOTHING
With winter easing up and spring on the horizon it is important to address this transitional period appropriately and stylishly. Layering is arguably one of the most valuable opportunities you can have to experiment with your wardrobe.
Before commencing with the different techniques and styles you can utilise when layering, we will first define what layering is. Layering goes far beyond the simplicity of adding a coat onto your outfit. Specifically made to address your upper body; we have base layers, mid layers, and an outer layer. Whilst complimenting your shirt with a blazer is a nice layered look, it certainly is not the be-all and end-all. There are so many variations one can use when constructing their ensemble to match the season.
A typical three-layered outfit for office wear could consist of a turtleneck base, a blazer mid layer, complimented smartly with an overcoat. The turtleneck and overcoat make this outfit both warm and smart. Turtlenecks are an underrated staple in fashion. They can be styled for both formal and smart casual looks, making them exceedingly versatile. Overcoats are similar in this aspect as they too can be coupled with a variety of different outfit choices.
Layer with colours
Consistency with your colours is a huge aspect of layering. Should you play it safe, or go wild? Truth be told you can do both. Monochromatic layering is one of my favourite minimalistic looks that can be implemented for formal and informal occasions. Start with a fitted black shirt, a pair of slim fitted black jeans and your choice of black footwear. With a variety of formal shoes, quite literally at your feet, there is no shortage of options, from loafers to Chelsea boots. This outfit already has great potential for layering and can be evolved to suit the weather. We could use a black scarf and a peacoat to finish off this look. The peacoat is a great variation of the overcoat, originally fashioned by Navy sailors.
Warmer conditions allow experimenting with a black or even navy-blue blazer. Whilst navy does not completely conform with the monochromatic notion, it certainly compliments black incredibly well without contrasting against it. This makes it easy on the eye. A light knitted cardigan would work stunningly well in place of the blazer, offering the final piece to this smart casual jigsaw. Contrasting colours can add huge depth to your layers. Think of your typical black suit and white shirt combination. A staple menswear amalgamation. It works even better for casual street style. Start with slim fitted black jeans and plain black sneakers. Add a black long-sleeve top as your base layer and a loosely fitting white tee above. Alternatively, you can utilise the white tee as the base, with a black scarf and white puffer jacket layered above.
Puffer jackets were very much the trend towards the end of 2019, and I expect it to continue into spring at the very least. The North Face are perhaps the leading figures in making the puffer jacket iconic. If the ‘stacked tyre’ aesthetic that a puffer jacket brings isn’t quite for you then perhaps the parka jacket will be more suited to your taste. This is one of my personal favourites for the colder season. Their bulk aligns very much with current trends and can be coupled extremely well with cargo trousers or distressed jeans. This is definitely a look you don’t want to miss out on. Start with white chunky trainers. There is no necessity to indulge in the bigger brands. boohooMAN for example have their own at a budget price. Style these with white distressed jeans or even reflective joggers. You can experiment to your will as this is a very audacious urban look. A simple fitted white tee and white parka completes this monochromatic look.
Abandon your jackets altogether
Whilst the overcoat can turn a casual outfit into one of class and elegance, it is not the only outer layer one can utilise when achieving a classy look. Cashmere sweaters layered over a collared white shirt offers the same appeal for warmer evenings and office wear. If you are feeling somewhat bold, you can substitute the white shirt with a black shirt. Compliment the look with a maroon sweater. Not only will the colours blend incredibly well, arguably better than maroon and white, the uniqueness of layering over a black shirt will have you looking sharper and more noticeable than the conventional look a white shirt offers.
How about abandoning the notion of jackets and sweaters altogether? With spring almost upon us the time to interchange between thicker jackets and lighter pieces is nigh. Adding flannels and denim shirts to your assembly will breathe new life into your wardrobe. They are great on their own but come into their own when adapted as an overshirt. Try adding a chequered red flannel one onto a plain white tee for a casual springtime look. For a more controversial look, layer a smart shirt over a short-sleeved shirt. If nothing else, this will certainly guarantee your outfit to be the talking point of the room.
The need for well fitted clothes can never be understated and it is no different when layering. You have to be smart with how you layer so the practical needs are well met. If you use a vest, turtleneck and a sweater, before forcefully fitting into an overcoat, you may fall short. The thickness of each layer stacked one onto another will affect the fit of the final outer layer. With that said, it is important to be vigilant with how you construct these pieces.
Even without considering the fit of each piece, it is imperative that you avoid profusely sweating in five layers because you mistakenly overlayered. Keep your layers thin at the base and thicker on the outside. This way your outer piece will fit as it should without suffocating you in the name of all that is stylish. Experiment with a few of these techniques and find your personal style when it comes to layering. It is not a case of replicating those around you. Nor is it a case of sticking to a fashion textbook. Allow yourself room to layer fresh looks in new and unique ways.