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Clothes for specific weather

Four spring layering tips

Four spring layering tips

Unpredictable weather is style’s kryptonite. An outfit that’s perfect when you leave the house can transform into something inappropriate or uncomfortable if clouds roll in – or if they disappear. “In a single day it can be hot, then cold, then wet,” says Thread stylist Alexander. “If you’re going in and out of buildings, or on public transport, then that adds more environments you have to be prepared for. It’s a challenge to stay comfortable and to look good.”

But there is an answer. And it’s surprisingly simple. “Layering,” says Alexander. “Layers trap air, which traps heat. They also make your outfit more versatile. With several light layers on you’ll stay warm, but you can also quickly adapt by removing layers, or putting them back on.” One outfit becomes several outfits. And you’re set for whatever the elements throw at you.

Powerful as layering is, it is also a precise art. There is a difference between wearing lots of clothes, and wearing the right ones, in the right order. “The biggest risk is that you’ll overheat,” says Alexander. “Put bulky things on top of bulky things and you’re only ready for snow.” You also end up with an odd-shaped silhouette; the Michelin Man has never been noted for his sense of style.

To help you get it right, we’ve broken down the four key rules that every great layering look should follow. So come rain or shine, you’ll look – and feel – your best.

Get the order right

Layering order

Photographed: Private White VC cream work jacket (£395)Paul Smith denim jacket (£230)Paul Smith check shirt (£110)MVP white t-shirt (£18)MVP navy chinos (£30)adidas Stan Smith trainers (£67)

There’s a simple rule when considering where in your outfit an item should sit. “Finer fabrics go against your skin, thicker materials face the elements,” says Alexander. “As you move from inside out out, every new layer should be weightier than the one before.”

It’s an idea underpinned by some simple logic. One, you’ve got more flexibility: it’s easier to take off your coat or a jumper than the layer against your skin, so they should be the ones that have the biggest effect on your body heat. And two, light fabrics are more breathable. “Things like cotton will let air circulate and will also wick away sweat,” says Alexander. “So when you do get too hot, you don’t stick to your clothes.”

Weight isn’t the only consideration, though. You also need to consider fit. “A big t-shirt doesn’t work under a fitted knit or a cropped jacket,” says Alexander. “It will bunch up in weird ways, which is uncomfortable and adds odd lumps.” Length is also key – you shouldn’t be able to see inner layers peeking out from beneath outer layers. “A lot of guys make this mistake with a blazer and a rain jacket. You need something that’s long enough to cover the blazer, or it will get wet and damaged.”

Have water resistance

Spring layering

Photographed: Wax London olive mac (£195)Reiss pink crewneck sweater (£85)MVP white t-shirt (£18)H&M Edition slim selvedge jeans (£49.99)Hammond & Co. black chukka boot (£115)

Even the most beautiful spring mornings can turn into sodden afternoons. Which is why it pays to be prepared. “Weather apps always help, but they’re not always accurate,” says Alexander. “When it comes to your wardrobe, pessimism pays off. It’s better to have a waterproof you don’t need than be caught without one when you do.”

Because spring showers often accompany warm weather, your winter coat won’t work. “A lightweight layer, like a trench or mac, is better,” says Alexander. “It keeps out the rain but won’t add bulk, so you’ll stay cool.” Everything beneath your coat should keep you warm – the waterproof should just keep you dry. That way you can take it off when it’s raining and still be toasty.

Think in combinations

Spring combinations

Photographed: Boden green waxed jacket (£140)H&M Edition red cashmere jumper (£79.99)Armor Lux Breton stripe t-shirt (£35)MVP jeans (£40)

The purpose of layering is to be able to take things on and off at will. Which means that your outfit needs to work in more than one combination. “If the t-shirt you’re wearing clashes with your jacket, then you can’t take off the jumper that’s covering it up,” says Alexander. “Or if you’ve stuck to plain staples but have a signature coat, then when you remove it your outfit can feel quite dull.”

The safest way to create visual interest is to stick to similar colours in different tones, then mix up your fabrics. “By having lots of texture – things like wool or denim – you give your outfit depth,” says Alexander. “Then even neutral colours look interesting, and you don’t run the risk of layers not working together.”

If you do fancy brighter shades – and it’s spring, so you should – stick to two that you know work together. “That way you’ve always got at least one bold item, so your outfit always feels bright and lively,” says Alexander, “but you don’t have to match three bold colours together, which is always tough.”

Plan your day

Spring layering bag

Photographed: Rains navy long jacket (£89)Paul Smith slate blue blazer (£545)Oliver Sweeney blue long-sleeve polo (£129)Reiss navy tailored trousers (£115)Ally Capellino black briefcase (£160)

Precisely how you layer depends on where you’re going to be. “If you spend most of the day indoors but just need to get to and from the station, then you can get away with a simple outfit plus a waterproof,” says Alexander. “If you’re in-and-out of buildings and outside a lot, you need something that can handle the weather and works when you’re indoors, which means more flexibility.”

Often men forget that if they want to remove layers, they need to do something with them. “A bag is essential at this time of year,” says Alexander. “It doesn’t need to be big, but you should be able to roll up your jumper and slip it inside.” You can also get lightweight, packable macs that slip into either their own bags (think an upgraded take on the pac-a-mac) or will compress down and slot into a briefcase. “Just make sure that the bag you choose makes sense with the outfit. In a way, it’s a layer as well.”