If you’re bewildered by all the talk about layering, get comfortable and prepare to be schooled. Layering is not quite as complicated as you might think. Think about the outfits of an average man and you’d generally notice one visible layer – a shirt and pair of pants.
Depending on the season, he might have on a sweater over the shirt or even a coat. These extra pieces of clothing placed over the shirt – the base – are called layers. Simply adding on a coat already places you above the other regular Joes on the street. By incorporating other elements like say, a pocket square, a scarf, a denim jacket, imagine how much more appealing your ensemble would look. What is the essence of layering?
To put it more contextually, layering is the art of combining clothing to ensure comfort without compromising on style. This means the combination of clothing should function – to keep you safe from harsh weather, enhance mobility – and also remain aesthetically pleasing. Also, whatever pieces you incorporate into your outfit, must be capable of being worn in isolation.
Layering is essential because it offers variety. Your choice in clothing tells a story about you. If you intend to be expressive about your style, layering is the perfect way to create a striking look. If your idea of looking good is a shirt and pants, layering is a step up. It allows you to make a statement and when done well, you’ll set yourself apart from the crowd for your intuitive and impeccable sense of style.
Layering also allows you to combine colors in an understated bit artful manner. Generic outfit choices generally combine one or two random colors. Even if you choose to wear a multicolored piece, you’d have to limit it to one part of your fit – the top, bottom, or feet. With layering, you can easily mix many different colors to create an interesting look.
As you must have figured out by now, layering is functional. Although being stylish and having the ability to artfully combine colors are generous perks of this style form, temperature control is an equally relevant benefit.
If you have on multiple layers, you can easily slip one off when the weather gets a little hot and you’ll still look stylish. Conversely, having many layers can help with heat-retention during the cooler months.
Either way, whether you’re taking off a layer or adding on another, your outfit will remain visually appealing.
The rules of layering
1. Make each visible layer of your outfit, something you can wear on its own
Think of this as the golden rule of layering. A key factor that influences your style choices is comfort.
The need to make a statement and turn heads are equally relevant reasons but if your uncomfortable in an outfit, it’ll reflect in how you hold yourself and you’d have heads turning for all the wrong reasons.
Go through your wardrobe and pick out pieces you can comfortably wear as a standalone. If a piece is a wrong fit, made with low-quality material, or in the wrong color or pattern, discard it in favor of something more suitable for layering.
2. Your outer hems should be longer than inner hems
As far as rules go, this is critical to the art of layering. This may seem oddly controversial in light of the current trend of having shirttails poking out from under sweaters and jackets.
This trend is more popular among the younger generation of men and if it’s not necessarily a good look – it gives off an unpolished, hurriedly-dressed look.
Generally, the hem of each other later of clothing is meant to conceal the hem of the inner layers. When the inner hems are visible under the outer hems, it just ruins the overall effect.
3. Scale your patterns progressively from smaller to larger
This rule is subject to personal preference. You might decide to scale your patterns in the other direction, with the larger prints and patterns layered under smaller ones.
However, you choose to incorporate this tip, be sure to steadily upgrade the strength of each pattern as you layer, rather than combining similar patterns.
Progressive scaling of patterns would look something like this; a plain tee, a Goldwin open collar shirt, and a herringbone tweed overcoat. Keeping the smaller patterns at the core of the outfit makes for a gradual rather than an abrupt change.
4. Make successive layers heavier in weight
Aesthetics aside, layering lighter articles of clothing over more weighty items would simply offset your balance. It also works the other way: layering only lightweight materials over each other would have you looking out of place.
As a general rule, inner layers that lie next to the skin ought to be made from breathable, lightweight materials. For this reason, cotton and linen shirts make the perfect inner layers. A simple t-shirt is also a good foundation piece for effective layering.
To incorporate successive layers of clothing that are heavier in weight, wear a sweater over your basic t-shirt, and add on a Jean jacket or coat.
5. Don’t wear two many bold colors
Too many bright colors is never a good idea and if you’re doing it to make a statement, it’s the wrong one. Of course, you can choose to ignore this rule depending on your style, but think of it – having on too many bright colors just produces a jarring effect that is visually unappealing.
To avoid looking like a walking neon sign, limit your ensemble to one or two bold colors. The key is to use bright colors to accentuate the more subtle tones of the other clothing articles you have on.
For example, you can wear a bright pink scarf with a light blue shirt and navy jacket. In a sense, the contrasting colors will provide your outfit with the ‘pop’ you desire.
When it comes down to it, layering has a lot to do with the right selection of fabrics. When planning an ensemble, consider the fabric of each article of clothing and how well they can be layered.
Once you’ve figured out what options are suitable for the base layer, the rest will come easily.