The Knowledge

How to Layer Like a Player

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5 ways to master the art of layering. 

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People keep asking me about layering, and since every other shop in my neck of north London has suddenly started selling weird little cakes, I assume they’re talking about baking. It’s just “layering” — fashion speak for putting on a few more clothes when it’s chilly — isn’t a word I expect blokes to utter that often. Much like “cupcakes”.

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So, it comes as a surprise to me that layering is what I am going to write about this month, though I am hoping that by the end of this column I’ll have come up with a more gender-comfortable word for it. There is certainly good reason to talk about it given the problems this country’s climate presents to its inhabitants from spring through to autumn.

Look at those unseasonably warm sunny days in March, for example, that took everyone by surprise but actually weren’t as boiling hot as everyone pretended. Our cities and parks were soon heaving with men in cargo shorts, scoop-neck vests or, heavens above, no tops at all.

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For an hour or two after midday, they convinced themselves they were temperature-appropriate, but as soon as teatime hit and they went in search of cupcakes, they almost froze to death.

This conundrum can be just as relevant in August, when a typical summer’s day can go from Sunny Delight to Slush Puppie in minutes. In Newcastle, it’s a dilemma all year round: nobody there wears a coat or sweater when they go out to avoid having to check anything in at the clubs.

You may scoff, but the Geordies have a point: there is nothing more tedious after a night on the razz than trying to stand upright in a queue and find your stub to get your clobber back.

The genius of crafty layering (sorry, still thinking of a better name) is that it enables you to dress to the right degree from dawn to dusk, peeling a few bits on and off and storing them on your person without feeling as weighed down as a pit pony in a DH Lawrence novel.  So here are a few layering essentials for you to consider:

1 | A shirt jacket
These have risen back to the top of the sartorial pile and work well over a T-shirt and/in place of a jacket. Numerous brands, especially on the high street, produce quilted versions that provide a welcome layer of protection when the sun goes down. Shirt, £605, by Polo Ralph Lauren

 

2 | A cashmere zip-up hoodie
A wardrobe staple that will keep you warm even if you’ve nothing else on but shorts and a T-shirt. They look good tied around your waist, are the perfect pillow for lounging on the grass, and the ideal CCTV disguise when you’re nicking a few bottles from Tesco Metro at the end of the night. Hoodie, £1,165, by Elder Statesman

3 | A lightweight Aspesi packaway waterproof blazer
The slim fit means it will look smart enough for a lunch out, or a casual day at the office. Its fabric will keep you dry during a midday shower, and yet it can be scrumpled up with abandon and tucked away when not needed. Blazer, £205, by  Aspesi

 


4 | Arc’teryx Veilance insulated waterproof jacket
Despite being constructed from Gore-Tex, lined with PrimaLoft (I know, sounds like your nan’s bungalow) and possessing lots of self-sealing pockets, it truly is as light as a piece of paper. Sadly, the price tag is considerably heavier. Jacket, £1,000, by Arc’Teryx

5 | A summer scarf
Although the idea of a scarf for the summer months seems a little incongruous, bung one of these on as the night draws in and it will all make sense. The woven cotten-blend designs by Gucci are rather dashing. Scarf, £265, by Gucci

Some will argue that true layering, which even has its own Wikipedia entry, is a lot more subtle and complex than this, and point to street-style pictures of men huffing and puffing their way around the Florence fashion fair in layers of plaid and paisley.

But whatever — the above will do the job perfectly. Now, what about an acceptable word for layering?

Well, I suggest “insulating”: it has a masculine ring of DIY and absolutely no hint of cupcakeness to it whatsoever. What do you reckon?

Jeremy Langmead is the editor-in-chief of mrporter.com

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