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The secret to stylish layering

The secret to stylish layering

Dressing for extremes is – comparatively – simple. In roasting heat, it’s hard to wear much more than shorts and a t-shirt; when there’s snow on the ground, you grab your heaviest coat and button it all the way up. But those in-between days are tougher, when unpredictable weather means you're shivering on your way into work but sweating by lunchtime.

The answer? Layering. “By wearing several lighter pieces, you’ve got flexibility,” says Thread stylist Luke McDonald. If the sun comes out, you can lose an item and stow it in your bag. Should the clouds roll back in, you can wrap up again.

But layering isn’t just about comfort. “It’s a great way to make basic pieces look more stylish,” says Luke. “On their own, a denim jacket, hoodie or tee are simple. But together, you give the impression you’ve put thought into how you look.”

Layering is an approach that works as well in the depths of winter as it does in Britain’s notoriously mercurial summer. The rules stay the same, you just need to adjust the weights of each layer. “Even when it’s warm, having a light cotton jumper and a simple raincoat mean you’re prepared for anything,” says Luke. So long as you follow his tips for perfect layering, in any situation.

Smart layering look

Photographed: Paul Smith Navy Jacket (£275) Reiss Navy Gilet (£175) Nigel Hall Blue Jumper (£95) Research Garments White Shirt (£49) Moss Bros Navy Tie (£25)

Smart layering

1. Bury your brights

“The more material there is on show, the less bright it should be. A bit of colour in a shirt or jumper can stop things being boring, but by mostly covering it with neutral shades you keep the look smart.”

2. Keep bulk on the outside

“Fabric bunching around a jacket’s biceps is a sure sign the layer underneath it is too heavy. Stick to light fabrics like cotton or merino close to your skin, then try heavier fabrics like down or thick wool in your outerwear.”

3. Watch your hemlines

“Watch out for inner layers that drop lower than what’s on the outside. It immediately makes an outfit look less smart, similar to an untucked shirt peeking out beneath the hem of a suit jacket.”

Casual layering look


Photographed: Lee blue denim jacket (£100) AllSaints grey hoodie (£80) Research Garments dark grey t-shirt (£20)

Casual layering

1. Keep shades muted

“Don’t go crazy with patterns and colours, but equally don’t stick to a single shade or it can come across like you’re in uniform. Balancing light and dark tones of similar colours helps the layers communicate with each other. It looks like you’ve thought things through.”

2. Stick to one style

“The layers should complement each other, which means they need to be in the same family. Something casual like a tee works brilliantly with a hoodie. Anything formal, like a dress shirt, feels unnatural.”

3. Build depth with texture

“Layers should feel like they’ve been put together deliberately. By keeping colours similar but contrasting textures – like a smooth cotton hoodie with rougher denim – the layers look considered, but not over the top.”