From Terrific Textures to Perfect Patterns: What are the Secrets to Layering?
What is layering?
Layering is the art of adding multiple layers of clothing to an outfit, such as wearing a sweater or a jacket over your shirt. As simple as this may sound, too many people take for granted how much you can add to your style with a few simple additions that are likely already in your wardrobe.
A lot of people consider layering to be a purely practical solution to being prepared for changing weather. Although this is true, layering is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and can, when done right, be incorporated into your day-to-day outfits all year round.
Including patterns in your wardrobe makes it easy for the eye to differentiate between garments and is a great way to add depth to your look. There is a knack for layering patterns, however, as matching a design too closely will wash you out and undo the effect of multiple layers.
A trick to mastering layered patterns is to alternate between solid colours and patterns. For example, wearing a striped shirt with a solid-colour tie, followed by a checked waistcoat. Another foolproof method is to scale your patterns as a gradient.
This means if you’re wearing a bold herringbone overcoat with a stark colour contrast, your jacket should be a more reserved design, while your shirt should remain a solid colour — this works both ways too, meaning you can pull off the same effect with a plaid shirt that gradually builds to a solid jacket or coat.
Multiple layers give you the opportunity to be clever with colour theory and coordinate your outfit in a sophisticated way. Whether you want to try colours that are complementary or contrasting, or even from the same colour family; layering gives you the opportunity to put together a well-crafted outfit that doesn’t look like you’ve simply grabbed whatever was closest in your wardrobe.
If you’re used to sticking to neutral tones, adding bold colours may feel daunting at first. A clever method you can use is to create a colour bridge: using a garment to connect two others. An example of this in use would be a navy jacket and a maroon shirt connected by a tie consisting of both colours.
With practice, you’ll find this an easy technique to pull off, such as choosing monochromatic tones — allowing you to create a definition between each item of clothing while keeping them connected with a single colour.
Experimenting with different textures offers a range of possibilities; adding depth, light or shades to an outfit. As cotton is one of the key players in most clothing, mixing things up with waxed or brushed finishes, or something bolder like leather or denim can transform the aesthetic of any look.
This is particularly important when putting together monochromatic outfits. Being dressed head-to-toe in black or earth tones is perfectly fine unless all your clothing is made up of the same texture — this is when you start to blend together, ruining any definition you’re trying to highlight.
Clothing for layering
Green Tailored Tweed Waistcoat — £39.00
The defining element of a three-piece suit, waistcoats are one of the more common clothing options for layering, and one you likely have experience with. For those who are new to layering, this is one of the easiest ways to confidently add an extra element to your outfit.
It can be as simple as matching your suit for a monochromatic effect, which is absolutely fine, however, waistcoats offer the opportunity to be bolder. A contrasting colour, eye-catching pattern or noticeable texture will help to break up your outfit and create more interesting depth.
Blue Button Up Knitted Jumper — £18.00
The number-one benefit of adding a sweater to your wardrobe is that you’re not limited to a certain style. From smart V-necks to thick and warm cable-knits, there are jumpers to suit everyone’s taste.
Although a fine addition to any casual outfit, sweaters are also great ways to elevate the look of a good suit. If you’re opting for a sophisticated finish, a roll neck is a simple way to achieve a classy look; or if you want a more sporty edge, try a quarter-zip with a shirt and tie.
Tailored Charcoal Overcoat — £110.00
When warmer weather is a thing of the past and you need to prepare for the cold, an overcoat acts as a protective outer layer without hampering your style.
Although an overcoat is smart by nature, it’s crucial that you’re coordinating your outerwear with the rest of your outfit to avoid clashing. Colour theory is vital, as you need to bridge the gap between your coat and your shirt, suit and tie. Whether you choose a complementary scheme or opt for a contrasting layer is up to you.
You can also control how an overcoat works with the rest of your outfit by how you wear it. Buttoning up your coat means you only need to coordinate with the ‘window’ of your shirt and tie that’s visible. This means you can wear a bold, contrasting blazer as part of a suit without needing to additionally factor in the colour of your overcoat; you can just cover it up when you need to.
Red Galingale Scarf — £22.00
Speaking of cold-weather garments, a scarf can add severe depth and complexity to an outfit for virtually no effort. In fact, a scarf will make a welcome addition in spring or autumn, as well as winter — simply opt for a more appropriate material when the weather is warmer, like silk or cashmere.
Whenever you choose to don one, a scarf is an exceptional tool for those who want to add an eye-catching pop of colour or a desirable pattern to your look without dominating an outfit. You can wear a scarf on top of an overcoat, between your coat and jacket or between your jacket and shirt; as scarves add very little bulk to your outfit, you can fine-tune your style.
Wine Knitted Tie — £8.00
Perhaps an overlooked element of layering, the unassuming tie is a cornerstone to many outfits. Whether it’s for business attire or you’re dressing up for a party, the mere addition of a tie can transform your look from half-baked to dapper.
Although a tie can easily round-off a suit by matching the colour of your jacket, you can also use it to redefine your look. A two-tone, patterned tie creates the perfect colour bridge between a white shirt and a coloured suit, or, a knitted tie worn alongside a cardigan adds some effortless texture to create a timeless seasonal edge to your smart clothing.
Gold and Blue Floral Pocket Square — £6.00
You may not think of a pocket square as a layer in the same way as knitwear or a coat, however, it’s the additional colours and textures that add layers to your outfit’s overall composition.
As small as they are, pocket squares pack a visual punch. Much like a tie, you can choose to subtly enhance your colour palette with a similar shade, or go in the opposite direction with a bold and brash contrast, either in colour or pattern. If you’re wearing both a tie and a pocket square, you can go a step further by combining garments that work well together— you can match the pair completely or subtly, such as the same pattern but two separate colours that each complement your suit.
A new layer
With so many options for layering up your wardrobe, it’s up to you to decide which of your outfits could do with a new element. Whether a splash of colour is in order for your favourite suit or you want to create something stylish and functional for the colder months, you can explore our full range of men’s clothing to experiment with the endless possibilities of layers. If you’re looking for more expert fashion advice, head over to our style inspiration hub to learn more.