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Ready for Anything: Transitional Layering

March 4th, 2013

Seasonal transitions are great times to add some layering to your style game.

It’s March in Baltimore now. And that means some pretty unpredictable and volatile weather. It’s not uncommon to have freezing winter temperatures one day and some that might make you think we’ve skipped spring and gone straight to summer on another. Sometimes those temperature swings will happen within the timespan of a only few hours between morning and afternoon. On days like that it is definitely challenging to decide how to dress. That’s why seasonal transitions are great times to add some layering to your style game.

Why should you think about layering?

Practical. First and foremost, layering is practical. You want to be warm when you step out of the house on a cold morning, but not sweating when it warms up later in the day. Being smart about your layering enables you to be comfortable and look great throughout the day even when the temperature swings wildly.

Stylish. Layering is stylish. Two layers—shirt and coat—is simple, common, and can definitely be boring. Here’s where putting a little thought into your dress can pay big style dividends. Not only do you get the practical versatility, but layering—especially if you throw in some interesting colors or unexpected patterns or textures—kicks your game up a serious notch or two.

Some basic layering guidelines

Funtionality & Versatility. Every piece should be one that could be worn on its own. Remember, the practical purpose of layering is to be able to shed or add pieces throughout the day as the weather dictates.

Thickness. Wear the thinnest layers closest to your body and move out to the thickest. Consider fit when choosing layers, especially inner ones. An undershirt or henley should fit close to your body and shouldn’t feel or look uncomfortable under a button down shirt.

Length. Inner layers should be shorter than outer layers. You see a lot of guys sporting the untucked button down shirt under sweater look. Perhaps it’s studied nonchalance but it looks sloppy; shirttails should never be left to flap in the wind. An exception to the length rule would be layering a down vest over a blazer.

Progression. In general, colors should go lightest to darkest, and patterns simplest to strongest. This applies starting with the inner layer and working outward, or vice versa.

Those are some basic layering guidelines. Here’s a look that puts them to use.

Stylishly Yours,

He Spoke Style

Cold Morning Commute

Transitional Layering - He Spoke Style

A mix of textures—wool, denim, and marled cotton—and a striped pattern on the button down shirt add some interest and subtle depth to this classic color combo.

Transitional Layering - He Spoke Style

Afternoon Sunshine

Transitional Layering - He Spoke Style

Removing the wool coat not only keeps me from overheating in the afternoon sun, but also completely transforms this look. A denim jacket is a great layering piece and also always looks fresh on its own. That’s why it is one of my go-to’s during the winter-spring and summer-fall transitions. Though on colder days I’ll tend to favor a down vest as my over the shirt layer.

Transitional Layering - He Spoke Style

Warm Front

Transitional Layering - He Spoke Style

Maybe a crazy and unexpected warm front hit while you were at work. Or maybe you’re heading straight from the office to happy hour and want a more casual or dressed down look. Here’s where the versatility of a henley as a layering piece comes into play. In either scenario, just lose the button down shirt and you are good to go.

Transitional Layering - He Spoke Style

This look: Heather titanium marled henley, vintage striped cotton oxford shirt, and british khaki chinos by J.Crew, Washed denim jacket by Levi’s, Navy wool upland jacket by Woolrich John Rich & Bros., Brown leather plaque belt by J.Crew, Brown socks by Johnston & Murphy, Burgundy penny loafers by Bass Weejuns, Aviator sunglasses by AO Eyewear, Watch by Timex, Olive and red NATO G10 watch band by J.Crew.

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Brian Sacawa

Brian Sacawa is the Founder of He Spoke Style and one of the original men’s style influencers. Since 2013, his goal has remained the same: to provide men the advice and inspiration they need to dress well, develop their personal style, and gain more confidence. Brian’s interest and passion for men’s style and luxury watches has led to his writing for The Robb Report, The Rake, and Sotheby’s and he has been quoted on menswear in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,, Brides Magazine, and the Huffington Post. He lives in the woods north of Baltimore with his wife, Robin, kitties Nick and Nora, and German Shepherd/Collie mix Charlie.

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