December 1st, 2010
J Crew’s seasonal lookbooks are filled to the brim with fantastic (if not over the top) examples of layering.
Proper layering is absolutely foundational to a man’s style. Whether you live in snowy Boston or sunny Miami, whether it’s the peak of summer or the valley of winter, the principles of layering will help you craft the right look for whatever your day brings you. Presenting our five golden rules for layering:
Rule 1: Keep the First Layer Slim
Let’s face it: layering can be bulky. But it doesn’t have to look that way. How do you add layers without adding bulk? Keep the first layer slim - in terms of both material and fit. Your base layer should consist of thin fabrics that fit somewhat snugly; that way, other layers can fit on top without creating layers of bulk.
Rule 2: Mix Up the Length of Your Layers
When you’re layering, each piece on each layer has a purpose. And for the most part, you want the layers to be visible, as this creates a more visually interesting look. How do you make sure that each layer is visible? Vary the length of each layer, so that each layer can be seen. For example, if you have a tee shirt, a button-down shirt, and a sweater, let the tails of the button-down be seen from underneath the sweater. And let the tee peek out from under the button-down.
Rule 3: Play with Textures
Women can play with silhouette when layering, but for men, the best bet is to play with texture. Especially when creating monochromatic or duochromatic looks, a little texture goes a long way. Pair a chunky knit with a smooth jersey - or a cozy thin knit sweater with a rough corduroy pant. A little fabric juxtaposition can really make your look.
Rule 4: Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment with Color
Even if your wardrobe is dominated by blues, greys, and blacks, you don’t have to limit yourself to these colors. And the easiest, least risky way to add color to your wardrobe is through layering. You don’t have to gamble nearly as much on that blood orange sweater when it’s an ensemble player in your look instead of the star. We love it when a bit of color peeks out from under a jacket lapel - or sweater - or even from between your pant leg and shoe with an arresting pair of socks.
Rule 5: Add an Element of Surprise
No great look is complete without that je ne sais quoi - that element that makes it uniquely you. Maybe it’s the hint of a purple sweater peeking out from underneath your navy blazer. Maybe it’s a well-placed handkerchief in your jacket pocket. Maybe it’s a motorcycle boot that you paired with your trouser pants. Whatever it is, this element of surprise is what makes your look your own.
Have a great layering tip? Share your style with us in the comments!