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Style Advice

How to layer without looking bulky

How to layer without looking bulky

Ask any wise owl and they’ll tell you that layering is the trick to staying warm when temperatures dip. But before you start piling on everything you own Joey from Friends style (if you know, you know), may we suggest that you give some consideration to the kind of layers you wear? Because there’s an art to wearing multiple items of clothing at once – one that requires a little know-how to help you stay toasty, without resembling the Michelin Man. Fortunately, our stylist Toby Standing has spent many years perfecting this tricky business, and now he’s sharing his wisdom.

Start light, go dark

“One thing I always try to do when layering is to start with my light-coloured clothing first and add on darker layers. This helps to draw the eye in and add more dimension to an outfit, rather than focusing on brighter layers on top, which can sometimes feel a little haphazard,” Toby says. 

It can be as simple as layering a beige overshirt over a white tee and then adding a black Harrington jacket over the top. You could even throw in some pattern by swapping out the beige overshirt for a checked iteration – a light blue or green one will invite some colour in without feeling too bold. 

Skip the sleeves 

“Limit the number of long sleeves you wear when going for multiple layers. If you’re layering a shirt under a fitted jacket, for example, choose a short-sleeved style to avoid the bulk – and any unwanted stiffness through the arms. The difference in insulation will be negligible on a normal day.”

If the thought of short sleeves in cooler weather is unbearable, though, try a gilet with a long-sleeved top instead. A lightly padded style worn over a shirt and under a coat will add that extra layer of warmth, without bulking up your arms. For more tips on how to style the oft-intimidating layer, read our dos and don’t of wearing a gilet.

Weigh up your fabrics

“It’s always a good idea to keep the fabric weight of your layers in mind when pairing them. A twill shirt over a fisherman knit, for instance, will bulge – not a good look unless you’re going for a Hulk vibe.” 

So, what exactly can you layer with knitwear? “Anything that’s lighter underneath and heavier on top,” Toby says. Start with a shirt under your knit, for instance. Popping the collar over a crewneck knit is a clever way to nod to smart casual style in the colder months. On top, you could try a puffer or parka coat, which both have extra room in the arms to allow for insulated fabrics underneath.


Words: Ashlie Brombley
Photography: Jack Batchelor
Styling: Millie Rich
Styling assistant: Toby Standing