Men’s Style Column: Layering

By Ryan Alphonso

Image from
Image from

Nothing is worse than walking outside in a shirt and jacket, taking two steps past your front door, and instantly being attacked by the oncoming breeze that seems to strike right through your T-shirt and straight into your soul. Well, almost nothing. It could be raining, too.

But at the same time, everyone knows the pain of wearing those two extra sweaters to safeguard yourself from the blistering bursts, only to get to class and find that your inner three layers have become more of a sponge for the waterfall of sweat that you’ve accumulated over the course of your walk.

No, it’s not a sweating problem.  It’s a layering problem.

What is layering, you might ask? Simply stated, layering is stacking multiple layers on top of each other. It can be used for warmth, style, comfort or a combination of all three.

It’s like when you were little and you went to play in the snow. You’d put on your shirt, then sweater, then jacket. And for the lucky ones of us whose moms were smart enough to buy a snowsuit (probably the best winter-warmth invention for a 10-year-old ever), that would go on top. But at the same time, we’re not talking Randy’s snow get-up from A Christmas Story. Google it, you’ll laugh.

So what kinds of layers are we talking about here? Every piece of clothing in your closet can be divided into one of the categories of layers. Many other sources like GQ and Men’s Health split them into a wide variety of sects and subsects, but the bottom line is they all fall under four general areas: underwear, innerwear, overwear and outerwear. To get the best out of your layering experiments, you should try to pick one from each (because obviously you wouldn’t want to go outside wearing two coats or two pairs of boxers.)

Underwear- Not just your boxers, guys. Underwear counts as socks, undershirts, tees, and anything short, light and thin. The underwear is what keeps us dry.

Innerwear- Probably the largest category. This can be anything from a button-down, to a long-sleeve tee, to another tee. Basically, if you wear it right over a T-shirt, it’s probably innerwear. It’s the innerwear that makes us look good and adds some style.

Overwear- Slightly heavier than innerwear, but not quite a full-on coat. We’re talking sweaters, hoodies, light jackets, 1990s windbreakers, quarter-zips and cardigans. Overwear tag teams with your innerwear to get a fresh look.

Outerwear- This is the heavy stuff. Winter coats, thicker jackets, full sweaters and just about anything you’d get from a ski shop. This is the layer that keeps you warm.

Now, the key is easily being able to take off (and put on) each layer as needed. You wouldn’t want to be caught suddenly in a hot room and not be able to take off your jacket and sweater. That’s when the sweat waterfalls come rushing in with a vengeance (if you don’t get the reference, see paragraph two.)

But wait, there’s more. Layers aren’t just exclusive to the cold weather; you can layer in spring and summer too. Layering multiple tees, or tees with button-downs/cardigans/sweaters can upgrade your warm weather style to levels you didn’t even know existed.

Eventually, after enough trial and error– hopefully more trial than error– you’ll become enough of a pro that you’ll be able to work in colors and (maybe) designs to be the easy center of every girl’s focus. But for now, baby steps.

For more tips on how to layer at any time of the year, check out Fashion Beans or The Art of Manliness.



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