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Style Advice

Winter’s unexpected layering moves

Winter’s unexpected layering moves

There are many benefits to wearing multiple layers in winter. Layers are warm, but they’re also adaptable – you can take them on or off as the weather demands. They also look good, adding texture and contrast when things like colour are in short supply.

Thing is, most men default to a few tried-and-tested combinations. There’s ‘long-sleeved shirt with a gilet’. There’s ‘chunky roll-neck under a wool coat’. Or the ubiquitous ‘crew-neck tee under a crew-neck jumper under an overcoat’. But as with everything in style, repetition can quickly make things feel stale. Which is why this season, we’ve come at the question of what you wear under what with fresh eyes.

“Layering is an easy way to take things that could be kind of boring on their own and make them more interesting,” says Thread stylist Luke McDonald. “By combining them in unexpected ways, you’re making people aware that you have style and a look and you’re not wearing a uniform. There’s something more considered about it.” As the mercury drops, try these new ways to warm up.

Your new t-shirt is actually a rollneck

No layering piece works as hard as a black rollneck. Not only does it come with all sorts of Sean Connery vibes, it's also a practical classic that's available at a whole range of price points. “Lightweight cotton rollnecks are comfortable enough to wear without a t-shirt underneath” says Luke. “Same for merino wool. Which makes them perfect for layering other things on top.”

The traditional choices are either jacket or a blazer. So to mix things up (and add a touch of the 1970s), try a shirt. “The easier way to do it is with a shirt that’s a bit rugged and outdoorsy,” says Luke. “It gives it that slightly lumberjack vibe, so it’s still quite masculine.”

Layering under tailoring

If you fancy pushing the boat out slightly, try adding a zip-up cardigan to your suited-and-booted look. “It’s a nice way of not looking too formal in a suit,” says Luke. “By rocking something with a slightly sporty feel, you’re playing with expectation and doing things in a more casual way.” You’ll also get more wear out of those suits that you haven’t worn to work in years.

It’s not a look that works with just any knitwear, though. Slimness is essential as anything too bulky will distort the jacket shoulders. “You still want to lean smart with the fabric, so don’t try a polyester track jacket,” says Luke. “If you go for something like wool, you can play with colour and pattern, as the suit jacket tones it down and covers most of it.”

Take a more-is-more approach to collars

Once you’ve mastered the art of layering different necklines, it’s time to tackle what is arguably the trickiest layering proposition of all: the three-collar outfit. Rule one is to make sure each sits inside the next layer – you’re not trying to channel Harry Hill. It’s also wise to keep each layer subtle. People should notice your impeccably put-together outfit first, and then realise what’s going on around your neck.

“Make sure you’ve got a contrast between colours and textures,” says Luke. “Here, you’ve got denim, flannel, and a flatter fabric in the raincoat. It sounds complicated, but you’re essentially just chucking a jacket over a shirt, then dressing it up with a raincoat.” The one area you don’t want contrast, however, is your silhouette. “Volume is really important. You don’t want a shirt that’s too short, for example. It’s all about getting the proportions and the fabric weights right so nothing looks out of place. Like most things in clothing, it’s all about balance.”