How to Layer in Autumn

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Layering, especially with the British weather, is an essential part of putting together an outfit. Layering is not only functional but can also allow you to rework certain looks and styles to suit the weather. We’ve therefore taken a look at how to nail the autumn layered look.

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The days of chilling in a beer garden on sunny afternoons in just a pair of short shorts and a T-shirt are unfortunately over. Summer has ended and with it comes a new season, autumn. Choosing an outfit for the up and coming autumn months can be a tricky task. Those muggy morning commutes may require layer after layer but as the day progresses you may find yourself sweating through those clothes, and nobody wants that.

Layering is more than just placing a jumper over a shirt and adding a jacket to your look for extra warmth. You have to be tactical. So with this in mind, we’ve put together ways you can master the art of layering this autumn.

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Layering clothes
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What is Layering?

First thing’s first, what exactly do we mean when we say layering I hear you ask? Put quite simply, it’s the art of building an outfit with consecutive layers that could also each stand as outfits independently. While the term is thrown around (perhaps a little excessively) as if it’s some form of highly-skilled art reserved only for the likes of fashionistas and sartorially aware menswear stylists, it’s really not all that complicated.

How to Layer Clothing

If you’re wondering how to style layers, one of the fundamental tenants is to consider both the completed outfit as well as each layer individually. For example, if you’re wearing some jeans, a sweater, and a jacket – ask yourself, when you remove the jacket will the other layers look equally as good? If the answer is yes, then you’re on to a winner. A sweater and a blazer combo will smarten up the layering look so if you’re heading somewhere slightly more formal, this is a good option.

There are a few basic rules, hints, and tips on layering you need to consider, however, we’ll go through these later; for now, let’s take a look at each layer individually and what you should be going for.

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Winter layering
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Best Base Layer Clothing

Let’s start with the base layer. Whether you’re heading to work or just having a day out and about, you’ll need a lightweight item to go under your other garments. A casual short sleeved or long sleeved T-shirt is a great start for a casual look, as when you get a little too warm, it’s easy to strip down to a cool lightweight layer. If you’re looking for the warmest base layer clothing, however, we’d recommend going for the long sleeve option.

For more formal attire either a thin cotton or oxford shirt will do perfectly. It’s important to remember that the material is an essential consideration point with the bottom layer. A cotton or cotton blend shirt will work excellently as the material can breathe – a synthetic shirt, on the other hand, (however great it may look) will quickly become too hot so bear this in mind when picking up your layering essentials.

Finally, a polo shirt is another great casual alternative ideal for layering. Depending on your own personal style, a polo shirt might work better than a regular T-shirt – especially if you’re athletically inclined. The collar can look well tucked in under a sweater, just bear the colours in mind as it’ll be visible regardless of how many layers you’re putting on.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Whiskey Grade

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Best Middle Layer Clothing

Ok, so you’ve got your base layer sorted – now it’s time to really begin considering the second layer clothing. The likelihood is that your best mid layer is what you’ll be sitting in for most the day, so one might argue it’s the most important of the lot. Check out some of the options you’ve got below, and what to consider for each one.

If you are needing a casual look for the weekend, then you can add a shirt on top of your T-shirt. While, arguably, not the most suited for the autumnal months, we know guys who’ll use this as a middle piece all year round, so it’s worth a mention. While during the summer we’d recommend a bold printed shirt, the most seasonally appropriate option here is a denim shirt over a white T-shirt.

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How to layer clothes to stay warm
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If you’d prefer something with a little bit more warmth that’s suited to a casual setting, then a zip hoodie or sweater will be the perfect option to go over your base T-shirt or shirt. A sweater over a polo will add warmth and variation as they are available in every colour imaginable, you’ll find several options that’ll be suited to dressing in the colder months. Once again, opt for natural fibres such as wool or cotton so your not sweating through your jacket. Wearing a sweater over a button down shirt will make your outfit look that little bit more sophisticated and suitable for both the office or a trip down the pub.

Similar to the sweater, a knitted jumper is another perfect autumnal layering piece. As always, opt for a natural fabric such as wool to allow breathability and prevent an unexpected hot flush. It’s worth noting, that even if you’ve chosen a natural, breathable fabric; when layering knitwear it’s best to choose a light raincoat to wear over it unless you’re really bracing yourself for some sub-zero temps.

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How to layer clothes for fashion
PHOTO CREDIT: Fredrik Risvik

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Finally, for a more formal setting, a blazer can work perfectly with autumn layering. Over a shirt and under a tailored overcoat, the blazer really lends itself to the art of mixing and matching – easily standing on its own two feet but suited to sitting smart underneath a coat, it’s a layering no brainer.

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Layers Clothing
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Best Final Layer Clothing

So you’ve got the basis of your ensemble put together, now it’s time to decide whether a third and final layer is required. The true beauty of layering is in an outfit’s flexibility and adaptability to the weather. While the morning may start out miserable, by midday the heat may have picked up, removing the necessity of a jacket. If you’ve layered with consideration, removing your jacket from the picture should leave you with an equally as ‘put together’ outfit as before.

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It’s also worth considering hats, scarves and accessories as layering essentials – worry not, we’ve got you covered. While you could argue whether a belt falls under the jurisdiction of layering or not, most will agree it does – being the only real layering available on your bottom half. When considering belts, it’s not so much a question of the comfort or warmth it adds to your outfit like other pieces – it’s all simply in the aesthetic. Having both a black and brown leather belt at your disposal for the autumn months is the best way around any fashion faux-pas – just match with your shoes accordingly.

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Another piece of layering worth your consideration is hats and scarves. Much like belts, hats and scarves stand independently of the outfit, but not independently enough to remove any sort of colour consideration. A dark grey or black knitted scarf or hat will go with most outfits, taking little to nothing away from the complete look if removed.

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Finally, and possibly most importantly, the ultimate consideration should go into your choice of jacket or coat. When looking for the perfect autumnal layering outerwear, it’s always best to consider versatility – look for a piece that’ll work well with the bulk of your wardrobe.

If you’re choosing a jacket to simply finish a look, decide on natural fibres once again for maximum breathability. If it’s added warmth you’re seeking, consider a synthetic material for the ultimate snug feeling. Another important characteristic to contemplate is the style of the jacket, obviously, a weighty bomber won’t look great over a suit but a tailored overcoat will elevate one perfectly. Once again, always consider both the outfit as a whole as well as with certain pieces removed. Arguably this, in a nutshell, is the entire idea of layering.

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Smart

When layering over a suit, your coat should always be longer than your blazer, as well as a slightly oversized fit. This allows space for the fit of the suit, without having to cram yourself in and possibly ruin the crisp shape of your blazer. The option below is perfect for the autumn months as each layer individually can work as its own standalone outfit. With a roll neck in 100% cotton for breathability at the base, a simple blazer in 60% cotton and the YMC overcoat in a cotton blend, you won’t be overheating anytime soon either.

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Casual

For an extra casual look when layering, a hoodie and denim jacket can be a good option. The selection of Idle Man zip through hoodies offer the comfort and quality while not breaking the bank. You can mix up the colours of both the denim jacket and hoodie to try a selection of combinations to change up your look day to day. If you want to keep it simple, opt for the classic blue denim jacket or go for an all black attire.

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Smart-Casual

Finally, the eternally difficult to pin down ‘smart casual’ dress code is perfect for mixing, matching and layering separates to create an outfit suitable for all seasons. Starting with a 100% cotton white shirt for breathability, mix in another 100% cotton knitted jumper, a pair of dark blue jeans and then finish off the look with a wool blend timeless Farah tan mac. Under each layer, you’ve got another perfectly smart outfit suited to any office environment – a win win situation!

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Your Quick Guide to Layering in Autumn

  • It’s ok to overestimate how many layers you may need. The great thing about layering for cold weather is you don’t necessarily have to wear all your layers at once.
  • Keep it simple. Often simplicity is best when it comes to putting together an outfit and that applies to layering. Make sure that the colour of your items match.
  • Everything doesn’t have to be buttoned up or tucked in. To let some air in, keep some buttons and zips undone.
  • Consider how your outfit will look with layers subtracted or added, in a sense, that’s the entire appeal of layering – particularly in autumn where temperatures can fluctuate greatly from morning to noon.
  • Accessories can stand independently from the outfit, but not independently enough to remove any sort of colour consideration – always bear this in mind when layering.
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On That Note

Autumn is arguably the best season to practice your layering with overcast mornings, warmer afternoons and cold evenings it can become a bit of a sartorial minefield otherwise. If we could offer you a couple of concise rules to maximise your layering they’d be; always consider the material, if you’re wearing lots of synthetic materials you’re going to get very hot, very quick – which is not ideal. Secondly, when rating your look, check whether the finished outfit will work as well without the layers that you’re likely to remove. So now you know how to layer clothes for cold weather, there’s no stopping you when it comes to keeping warm and still looking good.

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