Getting suited and booted in autumn is like playing roulette – especially here in Aotearoa where we can quite literally experience four seasons in one day. Those Finn brothers were onto something… And if you’re ready to level up your look with a little clever layering, you’ll be onto something, too.

What is Layering?

If you’ve ever thrown a hoodie on over a well-worn tee, congratulations – you know how to layer. Layering is exactly what it sounds like: essentially, adding layers of garments to keep yourself warm in the cold, while being able to easily strip those outer-layers off when you get inside, or when the sun comes out.

It’s so simple even your soft-headed cousin can do it. But layering well is about more than just putting any haphazard shirt-sweater-coat combo together and hoping you’ll look halfway decent. For the style-savvy gentleman, layering is about selecting items that work together and elevate your overall look. It’s about form and functionality, while expressing your personal sense of style. And there’s a RIGHT way to do it.

If you want to look dapper this season, it’s time to get familiar with our Five Golden Rules of Layering.

1: Layer from Thin to Thick

The first rule of layering like a boss is to wear lighter/ thinner fabrics closest to your body, and heavier/ thicker fabrics on top. Your garments will naturally determine this more often than not (a shirt or tee is obviously going to be thinner than a jumper or coat) but it’s worth bearing in mind.

The whole point of layering is to be able to peel outer layers away for comfort. That means lightweight garments should be worn closest to your skin, while more durable, heavyweight garments that protect you from the elements should be worn as your outer layers.

2: Layer Light to Dark

While monochromatic (ie, all black or double denim) layers look great, most layered outfits consist of multiple colours. Unsure what looks good? You can’t go wrong when you layer lighter colours closer to your body, and darker colours as your outer layers. Think a white tee under a denim shirt under a grey jacket.

This is more of a guide than a hard-and-fast rule, but when in doubt layer dark colours OUT.

3: Limit Bold Colours

Want to ensure your layered look is cohesive and sharp? Limit bright or bold colours to one or two, maximum, because layering three or more can end up looking more circus than chic.

That doesn’t mean your ensemble has to be bland – it just means working in neutral or subtle tones to allow one or two bold colours to make a statement. If you like drawing attention with bright hues, you absolutely can – it’s just about being selective.

4: Three Layers, Max

Remember that classic episode of Friends where Joey layers ALL of Chandler’s clothes? That’s a perfect example of layering overkill – and exactly what you want to AVOID. Donning too many garments at once won’t just look ridiculous: it will also reduce your mobility and cause you to overheat. So, how many is too many?

When it comes to layering, three is sort of the magic number. Two layers is functional, three is functional AND adds visual interest, and four is generally too many, resulting in a bulky, overstuffed look. Just look at photos of professionally-styled celebs and high rollers. Generally, the rule of three will be in play.

5: Ensure Each Layer Works

The final – and perhaps most important – rule of layering is to ensure each layer can be worn on its own. The whole point is to be able to add or remove garments according to the temperature, so be sure EACH layer is well-fitted and works with the rest of your outfit.

If you know a particular shirt is too tight to be worn without a sweater, what are you going to do when you get too hot? Sweat your balls off, or remove the sweater and let everyone see that your shirt buttons are stretched to breaking point?

If you wouldn’t wear a garment without a top layer, ditch it altogether.

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