Feeling a nip in the air? You’re not the only one. With autumn on its last legs and winter starting to make its icy presence felt, staying warm becomes top priority.
But piling on the entire contents of your wardrobe isn’t exactly the stylish solution. Trapping heat is essential but get excessive with your layers and you’ll be sweating like a Volkswagen executive during a diesel emissions test.
Instead, use our layering cheat sheet and you’ll not only look on-point, but be well-equipped to beat the elements too.
1. Shirt + Overshirt
The perfect combo when the thought of going out in one layer sends shivers down your spine but the idea of piling on several makes you break out in a sweat; a button-down shirt and twill or flannel ‘shacket’ is ideal for the early days of autumn.
Wear your overshirt buttoned up or undone, sleeves down or slightly rolled up, depending on what the day throws at you.
Teeth still chattering? Try adding another layer in the form of a fitted T-shirt underneath your shirt.
2. Shirt + Jumper + Blazer
Whether you layer these wardrobe staples up to look on form at the office or stay sharp over the weekend, it’s a combination that can’t miss.
Lay the foundations with a neutral, perfectly fitted shirt (deploying the military tuck if necessary) and follow up with a fine to mid-gauge cotton or wool jumper and a single-breasted blazer cut with just enough room to accommodate the underlying layers – i.e. no skinny fits.
For a final touch of sartorial nous, add a fine knit scarf into the mix, either wrapped neatly or draped loosely around your neck.
A more raffish alternative to the previous combination, a plain-coloured or check shirt worn with a thick cotton, merino or cashmere shawl collar cardigan is cold-weather smart-casual at its finest.
This pairing alone will serve you well indoors but braving the elements calls for reinforcements: throw over a cropped parka or quilted jacket to chillproof your look without sacrificing style.
4. T-shirt + Shirt + Bomber Jacket
Part skate, part street, this fail-safe mash-up offers all of the comfort of casualwear but doesn’t make you look like you’ve stumbled out of the house in search of a pint of milk.
Start with a well-fitting crew neck tee, and then build up with a heavier, cold-weather shirt – twill, flannel, Oxford and denim styles all fit the bill – worn open. Don’t try to repurpose your nine-to-five button-downs here: cotton dress shirts are too fine and fitted for this job.
Polish it all off with a bomber jacket (think sporty over smart) in cotton, nylon or leather for an effortlessly cool approach to off-duty layering.
5. Roll Neck + Overcoat
If there’s a more ‘of the moment’ way to ward off the cold, then we don’t know it. Having stuck around despite our initial reluctance to warm to it a few season back, the roll neck has managed to muscle its way to the top: if you only add one knit to your wardrobe this autumn/winter, make it this.
Effortless, elegant and a hell of a lot easier than messing around with buttoned cuffs and collars, a roll neck makes a sophisticated and hassle-free alternative to a shirt and lightweight jumper paired with your overcoat.
Team a camel or burgundy roll neck with a timeless charcoal or black overcoat for a timeless pairing that every man can pull off. Or try the inverse if you want to make more of a statement.
6. T-shirt + Denim Jacket + Overcoat
Yes, it may sound ridiculous but, trust us, this casual-meets-tailoring combination looks a lot better in reality than it does on paper.
It’s not for the layering newb though; striking the perfect balance between a denim jacket and tailored overcoat is no mean feat – everything from fabric thickness to cut and colour needs to be on-point for you to stand a chance of pulling this one off.
Game for the challenge? Start with a no-frills tee that fits perfectly (it’s hard to trump a white crew neck style), add a lightweight slim-cut denim jacket (no chunky selvedge or sheepskin-lined designs) and round out with a wool overcoat that’s minimal in both its design and weight.
Not an overcoat kind of guy? Try a lightweight trench, mac or technical jacket over the top instead.
7. Shirt + Gilet + Blazer
Another feat of outerwear layering that will separate the men from the boys, this triple threat adds an extra slice of insulation to your office or smart-casual attire.
The gilet’s taken a back seat in matters of style in the past, usually to be seen on a flat cap-sporting farmer or in the pages of a budget supermarket’s brochure advertising its in-house ‘fashion’ range. Now, though – owing to trends like athleisure – it’s a legitimate option for when you need to stay warm.
Key to carrying this one off is finding a slim, lightly padded and – and we can’t stress this enough – understated design. Your gilet’s job here is to keep out the cold and lend a contemporary edge to your tailoring, not make you look like you got lost somewhere between the mountain range and the water cooler.
Want our advice? Head straight to Uniqlo and pick up one of the brand’s superb Ultra Light Down vests.
Falling temperatures and shorter days can be difficult to dress for, but the last thing you need is a case of sartorial SAD. Instead of wallowing, look to the colder months as an opportunity to take your layering game to the next level.
How do you keep out the cold? And which layering formulas do you fall back on?
Share your thoughts and go-to combos below.
With over eight years’ experience writing on men’s style, former blogger Cillian O’Connor delves deep into men’s collections, sorting the wheat from the chaff to deliver seasonal trends and failsafe style tips.
He has written for Metro, The Business of Fashion, The Irish Times, and Canvas8, and has consulted for brands including Gillette and Dan Ward.