How To Master The Art Of Layering

If you want to take your fashion to the next level, it is essential to understand layering. Properly layering is more than just tossing a hoodie over a shirt. It requires using quality pieces like men’s leather jackets and wool overcoats to carefully craft a cohesive look. Keep reading to find out all about the right ways to layer your outfits.

The Ultimate Guide to Layering

When you've spent most of your life wearing a basic uniform of tees, button downs, and jeans, fashion can seem a little intense and overwhelming. You may have heard that layering is the best way to make an outfit look cool and interesting, but it is hard to figure out which pieces actually work together. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up on layering, all you need to do is follow these basic rules.

Start With Quality Basic Pieces

Layering several ill-fitting, stained, and falling apart pieces of clothing will just make you look like a hobo instead of a stylish young professional. It is essential to have sturdy, well made basics to layer with. Each item should look fine on its own, so your outfit will not be ruined if you take off a layer. Once you invest in a few quality pieces, you have the basics to begin layering. Some good layering pieces to have include:

  • Plain tee shirts
  • Long sleeve henleys
  • Button shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Sweaters
  • Leather jackets
  • Parkas
  • Denim jackets
  • Coats

Work Your Way From Thin to Thick

Most men know not to do something silly like place a tank top over a leather jacket, but this rule is still important enough to state. The items closest to your skin should be the thinnest pieces, and then you should gradually add thicker and thicker items. This lets you take off a layer if you get hot without ending up feeling far too chilly. Since this is the most functional way of layering, it is what almost everyone sees when they view a layering outfit. When you follow this simple rule, your layering will look practical and sleek instead of appearing bizarre.

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Learn How to Coordinate Colors

Of course one of the key parts of learning how to layer is learning how to manage colors and create combinations that do not clash. One of the simplest options is just to stick with single shades of the same color for a monochrome effect. For example, you could wear khakis with a cream shirt and a brown leather jacket. However, this can get a bit boring after a while, so you might want to experiment a little more. Shades of black, grey, white, brown, cream, and navy blue are all neutral shades which means they work well with each other and most other colors. Most people recommend not pairing black with brown or navy, but when done intentionally, it can look quite nice. Muted, dark toned colors like maroon, olive green, and rust are not quite as versatile as true neutrals, but they still match most things.

If you want to use stronger colors, try to pair some neutral shades with one or two pops of color. When matching a color with a neutral, consider its temperature. Cool toned colors include black, grey, white blue, green, and purple, while warm toned colors are brown, beige, tan, red, orange and yellow. Though pairing like colors and neutrals with each other is the simplest method, you can consider complementary colors for more advanced matching. These are shades that are essentially opposites, and they can help to complement and draw attention to each other. The most basic complementary color pairings are red with green, blue with orange, and yellow with purple.

Pay Attention to Texture

Layering is all about bringing different clothes together to create contrast and textural appeal. Most good layering plays with texture to create a lot of visual depth. Contrasting a knit sweater with a leather jacket highlights both pieces instead of making them blend into each other. This is especially important in a monochrome or all-neutral color combination. Think about each piece you put on to see how the textures play with each other. T-shirts, button downs, and leather pieces provide smoothness while knits, denim, and thickly woven wool provides interesting roughness.

No-Fail Layering Combos

When you first get into layering, it can be a bit tricky to think of how to combine all your building blocks into a unified outfit. Here are a few options to choose from.

  • The most common layering look is a pair of jeans or chinos with a shirt, a sweater, a light denim or leather jacket, and a thicker coat. This versatile look is a great blend of smart and casual.
  • A simple shirt, tie, and slacks combo can be elevated by layering a buttoned sweater and sport coat over the ensemble.
  • Look like a stylish streetwear enthusiast by pairing a long shirt with fitted joggers, a hoodie, and a denim or leather jacket.
  • For a professional look, pair a twill button up with a tie, a single breasted suit, and a tailored wool overcoat.
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Pro Tips: Layering With Patterns and Additional Pieces

When you bring patterns into the mix, layering gets quite a bit more complicated. Too many bold patterns can overwhelm the eye. Try to stick to smaller patterns, and instead of matching patterns, such as stripes with stripes, mix it up and do something like stripes with spots. Wear the most complex pattern as your top layer. When most people talk about layering, they only discuss layering with leather jackets, sweaters, and shirts. However, there are plenty of ways to add some additional pieces and up your layering game. Sweaters and hats can be used as a layering piece on the top half, and on the bottom, half, men can use socks or shirts knotted around the waist for extra interest.

Frequently Asked Questions About Layering

How do you layer in warm weather?

n warmer weather, stick to lightweight pieces made from linen or cotton. For extra coolness and comfort, select knits with an open weave, and consider sleeveless vests instead of long sweaters.

Should your shirt sleeves extend past other layers?

For more tailored pieces like suit jackets, leather jackets, and light sweaters, let your shirt sleeve extend somewhere between a quarter inch and inch past the layering piece. For bulky things like overcoats and chunky sweaters, it is ok for the shirt sleeve to be hidden entirely by the outer layer.

Can you layer shirts without a jacket?

Though layering a button down over a t-shirt or a polo over a long sleeve shirt was trendy in the past, these are not recommended for modern fashion. The only thing you should be layering under a shirt is an undershirt.

Should the leather jacket be the outermost layer? Generally, a leather jacket is meant to be an outer layer, worn over button downs, sweaters, and other middle layers. However, always use the rule of thick layers over thin layers. A leather jacket will not work over a bulky wool coat.

The Pros and Cons of Layering

There are many great reasons to get into layering. This fashion concept can be quite beneficial because it is associated with these advantages.

  • Be prepared for both cool and warm environments.
  • Create more visual interest in your outfit.
  • Show off standout pieces like your Independence Brothers leather jacket.
  • Let people see that you actually put thought into your outfit.
  • Be able to transition between professional to casual environments.
  • Elevate your style with a few simple additions.

Layering is definitely simple and easy, but keep in mind that there can also be a few issues with layering.

  • You have to keep track of layers you remove.
  • Layering may be slightly tricky in very hot places.
  • You need to spend a couple extra minutes picking out an outfit.
  • Poorly matched layers can end up looking a little goofy.

Figuring out how to layer properly was an essential part of my wardrobe transition, so I hope this tutorial cleared up a few questions you might've had about layering. As you can see, layering is very simple and it makes a huge difference to how you present yourself. With just a few layering pieces, you can go from wearing graphic tees and jeans to dressing like a mature and professional man. Did you enjoy this layering tutorial or find out anything new on the subject? Feel free to share any additional tips you have for layering in the comment sections, and let your friends know about these essential rules for layering!