How to Stylishly Wear Layers This Fall

John Varvatos Fall 2015 Runway style animal print

Source: John Varvatos/

It’s that time of the year when dressing becomes a little bit more involved and more forethought is required. The days of easy-going summer wear are behind us, and the cold bitter temperatures are ahead. Transitional layering is key right now and is a necessity during the late fall months when temperatures are mercurial throughout the day. It doesn’t need to be complicated, in fact, it can be very easy just by arming yourself with the right pieces and know-how to master fall strategic layering. The Art of Manliness perfectly sums up how to approach menswear layering and what you need to think about when you’re figuring out your layering moves: “Layering is nothing more than mastering the combining of your clothing so that it functions properly (protects you, allows you to move, and is comfortable) and is aesthetically pleasing to the human eye.”

Additionally, you don’t want to think of layering pieces as wanting to hide pieces under a big jacket or coat. Rather you want to make each layered piece a statement. Generally speaking, for autumn/winter 2015, if you’re going to wear a scarf, make sure it’s a big one that can almost double as a top layer, and make sure to steer away from plain, boring greys and blacks — instead you should be building your look off of camel tones and hints of color. This season is all about playing with different patters and textures so you can subtly stand out from the crowd. Remember this: Each visible layer should be something that could be worn on its own. If it’s too flimsy or tacky, veto it from your outfit.

Here’s your Cheat Sheet of how to stylishly rock layers for fall.

1. Bottom layer undershirt

As you begin to sort out your layers, it’s important to know that you should scale your patterns from lightest to strongest in texture and warmth. Your bottom layer, the one closet to your body, will consist of an undershirt, be it a tank, a short or long sleeve shirt. A simple cotton undershirt will do, which you can buy at any of your favorite retail stores like Gap, Old Navy, or H&M.

2. Second layer shirt pieces

Mr. Porter henley shirt

Source: Mr Porter

When it comes to your next layer, you have two main options to choose from: dress shirts and henleys, the former for work and the latter for weekend wear. Dress shirts are the perfect choice for layering, and they set up the next layer (sweater or sweatshirt) expertly. If you’re choosing a dress shirt, this is the perfect opportunity to add some pops of color to your outfit. If you choose a bold color shirt, opt for a neutral color sweater/sweatshirt, or you can choose to wear a plain solid color shirt to anchor the rest of your outfit if you choose to wear a tie with a pop of color.

Your other option is a henley shirt, which is a masterful layering piece, a sort of distant cousin of the dress shirt, as they button up to the neck but have no turn down collar. For fall/winter opt for a long sleeve version. Make sure it’s slim fitting but not too tight — you shouldn’t be bale to fit an undershirt underneath. They come in a variety of solid colors to play around with.

3. Middle layer/jacket piece

Your third or middle layer should consist of one of the following: a sweater or sweatshirt, a jacket (stick to denim or leather as they’re the best layering, and are the most stylish and flattering options), and/or a sports jacket or blazer, depending upon the formality of your outfit choice. When it comes to sweaters, your options range from thick sweaters to softer fabrics like cashmere. You also have the option of wearing a cardigan sweater buttoned up. If you’re feeling extra stylish and adventurous, you can even try wearing a crew neck cotton sweatshirt as a substitute for a sweater that can be dressed up formally or down casually. Additionally, this layer is a perfect opportunity to throw some color into the mix.

If you feel like skipping the sweater all together, or if it’s especially cold outside that you want to double up, you have your choice of wearing a blazer, leather, or denim jacket that pairs universally well with whichever outfit you choose to rock. Stick to a neutral color with your jacket as they’re naturally textured.

According to The Art of Manliness, belts are the only visible layering piece you’ll ever need to wear for your lower body. Don’t underestimate the power of a wide or colored belt to help make a statement if you can’t bring yourself to wear any pops of color above the belt. Additionally, it also makes a great dividing line to break up your color patterns, in case there’s a lot going on upstairs and down below.

4. Outerwear

trench coat, clothes, style, apparel

Source: iStock

You may think this is the last piece to the layering puzzle. Think again, we’re not there yet. When you think outwear for this season, think a camel overcoat. It is quite literally the only coat you need, and it this season’s hottest color for coats in menswear. This neutral tone is incredibly easy to work into your wardrobe and can be thrown over all the aforementioned layering options. According to the Trendspotter, this style is hot off the runway, and its versatile color can be easily worn in a tonal color scheme or alone as a statement piece. This is a great season to try something new: Steer away from black because it’s all about spiced-up earth tones and just a little pop of bright color.

5. Scarf and additional accessories

Finally, the last piece of the layering puzzle. Autumn/winter 2015 is all about the scarf — not just as a means to keep your neck warm, but as a separate layering piece that is large enough to drape and keep your shoulders warm. Scarves are a perfect add-on for fall transitional wear. The Trendspotter says you’re going to want to opt for chunky knits or blanket wraps. Your scarf is no longer just a scarf as it has been in past seasons (seen in cotton or silk). They are their own layer, which can easily be thrown over a jacket if it’s not quite overcoat weather just yet.

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