The Five Commandments of Layering
We’re just a few days away from September, which means it’s time to brush up on one of the most intricate, subtle skills in menswear: layering. So we’ve distilled a lifetime of layering wisdom into five simple edicts, laid out after the jump. Defy them at your peril…
I: Honor the Season
It’s not just about warmth. A khaki blazer is as summery as jackets get, so even if you bulk it up with a scarf and a sweater, it’s going to look a little weird once November rolls around. It’s not an exact science—an army field jacket gets a pass all year, even though it isn’t much warmer—but if it’s made of linen or looks like you bought it in Newport, you might want to give it a pass.
II: Remember Your Fabrics
Naturally, you want your layers light enough to keep you from looking like the Michelin man, but it also matters what order they go in. The rule here is to go from soft on the inside to rugged on the outside. For instance, a synthetic shell over a wool sweater over a crisp dress shirt over a brushed cotton undershirt. You’ll be comfortable, but protected if it starts to sprinkle. Draping a cashmere sweater over your tweed blazer, on the other hand, would be a faux pas—no matter what Cucinelli tells you.
III: Let Your High and Low Wardrobes Mingle
You’re playing with contrasts, so don’t be afraid of working a few more casual items in there. Wear a sweatshirt over an oxford shirt, or under a tweed blazer. Wear your best overcoat over your most beat-to-hell jeans. We draw the line at the hoodie-blazer combo (sorry, Urban Outfitters), but you’ve got plenty of other options.
IV: Rejoice in the Vest
It’s another advanced move, but there are a lot of good ones on the market right now, from weatherproofed synthetics you can throw over a button-down to wool vests to go under your blazer. Let your sleeves run free.
V: Honor the Shacket
It speaks for itself.
— Russell Brandom
Images via Woolrich Woolen Mills, t(s)s, Brunello Cucinelli, Gant Rugger