During the colder months, the day often takes people from cold to warm environments in a matter of seconds. That can mean that the button down, sweater and down coat you’re wearing can quickly become suffocating. This is why it is helpful to know how to layer.
Ron Elkus and Rod Brown, co-owners of The Shirt Box, a top menswear store in the Detroit-area, often work with clients to create layered wardrobe options that are both stylish and functional.
They say that the first rule of layering is that there are no rules! How far a man wants to layer depends on that person. At The Shirt Box, they are always trying to push their customers just outside their comfort zone so they encourage men to do something a little different because they will definitely get compliments and then embrace their new look.
For some background, there are four main layers to know about. The bottom is the thinnest and can be either in the form of a long- or short-sleeved shirt. As it absorbs moisture from the skin, it should be as closely fitted as possible and can include anything from undershirts and t-shirts to button downs and long underwear. If any of the top is visible, it should be situated at the center of the torso.
The middle or insulating layer, serves as a top layer when inside and is worn from thinnest and tightest to thickest and loosest. Garments can include a sports jacket, vest or cardigan and can be made up of multiple pieces.
The outer layer is often made up of a coat and is sometimes covered by a loose shell layer, which protects the individual from bad weather.
When beginning to coordinate the outfit, ensure that the garments are cohesive both together and by themselves. Much of this can be done through synchronizing the proper colors and patterns.
“Colors and patterns are amongst the most difficult to match because the risk of clashing becomes higher with more layers,” says Brown. “To keep this from happening, I tell customers that, when in doubt, stick to no more than two bright colors and even take a look at a color wheel. Colors opposite each other are a good contrast and those next to each other, in similar shades, help create uniformity. Both are good options.”
He adds, “When it comes to patterns and layering, I always suggest sticking to simple block colors or a pattern on only one of the pieces. If you end up wearing more than one, then have a steady grade of the patterns with the most vivid on top.”
If it’s the fall or spring, or if you’re in a city where the weather can go from warm and sunny to rainy and cold all in one day, Elkus suggests coordinating a versatile outfit.
“Put together garments for every kind of weather. This can include a t-shirt under a button-down shirt, which is covered by a lightweight, rain-friendly coat, all paired with a comfortable, dark-colored pant or jean.”
Brown and Elkus also suggest these additional tips:
- Each visible layer should be a garment that could be worn by itself.
The hems of outer layers should be longer than those of the inner layers.
Always think about the comfort and fit of the ensemble. Before you leave the house, make sure you can put your arms down and have the ability to sit in a chair.
Consider adding accessories such as hats, gloves and jewelry, all of which can be taken off easily, but add extra warmth. If there are bold colors and patterns in the outfit already, these pieces should be fairly plain.