Layering is the key to staying comfortable in the year’s cooler months. When the temperature starts dropping outside and the weather gets frigid, there are two general approaches to dressing: throwing a heavy coat on top of regular clothing or wearing layers. All of the experts in outdoor activities like skiing, camping and hiking say to ditch the heavy coat and wear layers.
Items like a long sleeve henley or t-shirt, a hoodie and a waterproof jacket combine for warmth and style. It naturally extends your wardrobe when you can mix and match pieces. Here are some tips for men on how to layer stylishly in the winter.
Wear a Stylish Jacket as the Top Layer
Your top layer comes into direct contact with the weather, so it should be able to repel wind and water. It is also the first thing people see, so it needs to reflect your personal style. You do not want your top layer to be too heavy or thick because that defeats the purpose of layering.
A reversible bomber jacket is a good choice. Its reversible nature gives you two unique looks from one garment, and it is a classic masculine look. You could also wear a stylish shell jacket or a sharp leather jacket as your top layer.
Wear a Trench Coat as Your Top Layer
An alternative to a stylish jacket is the classic long overcoat. When you have to wear a suit or sport a more formal look, it’s best to go with a long overcoat. The classic trench coat or pea coat in heavy wool meets all of the requirements for a stylish top winter layer. It keeps you warm and dry, is not too heavy or bulky and looks sophisticated and classy.
Add Warm Accessories
Warm accessories that you can add or remove as needed in response to the current weather conditions are a vital part of dressing in layers. For winter, you will need to assemble a collection of warm yet stylish hats, gloves and scarves. In general, choose neutral colors so all your accessories will go with your other clothing. However, you can also choose a few accessories with a color that pops to make your outfit stand out. For example, adding a bright red wool scarf to a black bomber jacket or a beige trench coat will keep you warm and draw attention to your stylish attire.
Wear a Long-Sleeved Shirt as the Base Layer
Your base layer is just as important as your top layer. It goes right against your skin, so you will want to choose something that is soft and comfortable to wear, like a cotton or cotton blend long-sleeved henley or t-shirt. The henley style is more structured and dressy than a regular long-sleeved t-shirt and features three buttons down from the collar. Of course, a regular long-sleeved t-shirt, a button-down shirt, or a turtleneck can also function well as a base layer.
Intermediate Layers: Sweaters, Hoodies and Vests
In the spring and fall, a base layer and a top layer are often sufficient to keep you comfortable. However, you will need to add one or more intermediate layers in colder weather. Men’s hoodies are a classic intermediate layer for a casual look. For a dressier look, try a sweater. A cardigan, pullover, quarter-zip or full-zip sweater will keep you warm and make you look good. Select neutral, solid colors or a lightly striped pattern for office wear. Textured knits can also add interest to the business-casual style.
The vest is an underutilized layering garment. You can use a vest as your only intermediate layer. On really cold days, you can wear a vest over a sweater or under a hoodie to provide extra warmth. Vests come in a wide range of styles and materials, such as sweater vests, leather vests and waistcoats.
Don’t forget you need to keep your legs warm, too. A long overcoat can help warm your legs if it isn’t too cold outside. While lined pants can keep you warm, they tend to be bulky, uncomfortable, and unsightly. They also violate the cardinal rules of layering. For your legs, a pair of thin thermal long underwear under your pants is the best way to keep warm. No one will know you are wearing them under your fashionable trousers or jeans, and you’ll stay toasty warm.
Invest in some thermal socks for winter wear. Thermal socks come in a variety of thicknesses and styles. You can find thermal socks that look just like standard men’s dress socks but are much warmer. You can also try layering your socks. Wear a thin pair of thermal socks under light wool or silk socks for extra warmth without added bulk. If it’s really cold outside and you are planning to wear winter boots, select a pair of long thermal ski socks to keep your feet and calves warm.
The Optimal Approach for Winter
Layering is the optimal approach to dressing for winter. It keeps you warm and dry without adding bulk or weight and makes you look stylish and sophisticated. The basics of a layered winter look are a comfortable base layer and a fashionable, wind- and water-resistant outer layer. Add additional intermediate layers as the temperature plunges. And don’t forget your warm hat, gloves and scarf.