Layering 101: How to Layer Up for Fall

If you're anything like me - and I think you are since you're reading this - you get a little excited toward the end summer, when the temperature starts dropping.

How to wear layers

Whether or not you like to wear shorts and t-shirts, you probably have a special place in your heart for comfortable jeans, warm sweaters and broken-in, lightweight jackets.

Summer is just too hot for these types of garments, and in many places winter is too cold.

But fall? It's perfect.

Brock wearing Tribeca field jacket

Not to mention, autumn is hands down the best season for stylish men. Everything about it - the textures, colors and layers - is perfect for dressing well.

The best part? Layering.

Layering is the stylish man's secret weapon. Just like wearing clothes that fit, wearing layers is one of the best ways to improve how you look.

The best part is, there aren't too many "rules" about layering. But you do have to pay attention to three basic guidelines.

And that's what this post is all about. We'll cover these three layering guidelines and look at some example outfits that are perfect for fall.

How to Wear Layers

Whenever you're layering up, try to keep these three principles in mind:

  1. Thinner/lighter fabrics inside, thicker/heavier fabrics outside
  2. Patterns inside, solids outside
  3. Light colors inside, dark colors outside

By "inside" I mean close to your body, and by "outside" I mean away from your body. For example:

  • Inner layer = button up shirt
  • Middle layer = sweater
  • Outer layer = jacket

Got it? Okay, let's look at each principle in more detail...

Principle #1: Thinner Fabrics Close to Body

This tends to happen naturally, but it's still good to keep in mind. The fabric that's touching your body should be the thinnest (or finest) fabric in your outfit.

The outermost layer should be the heaviest (or roughest) fabric. Think leather, canvas or thick wool.

For example, you wouldn't want to wear a nylon windbreaker over a merino wool sweater. A leather jacket would be much more appropriate.

shirt | sweater | jacket | chinos

Pretty simple, huh? Let's move on to the second principle.

Principle #2: Patterns Inside, Solids Outside

You can definitely bend this rule, but in general, it's a safe bet to wear patterns closer to your body and use solid colors for the outer layers.

If you're going to wear multiple patterns, you'll want to keep the smaller scale patterns closer to your body.

This picture of Kit Harrington (5'7") illustrates my point perfectly:

Kit Harrington wearing layers


Small plaid inside, slightly bigger horizontal stripes in the middle, and a solid color on the outside.

Bravo, Jon Snow. Bravo.

A more typical outfit will consist of one pattern, not multiple patterns. For example, a gingham button up shirt under a solid color sweater with a solid color jacket.

Principle #3: Light Colors Inside, Dark Colors Outside

Speaking of bendable rules, it's a good idea to keep your outside layers darker than your inside layers.

This is especially true if you're wearing darker pants, like dark wash jeans. Why? Because it will help streamline and elongate your figure.

SEE ALSO: The Best Color Schemes for 'Not-so-Tall' Men

For example: light blue dress shirt, medium grey sweater, navy jacket.

If this seems confusing, just try to make sure your shirt is always a light color than your jacket!

Example Outfits

Now that we understand the principles of layering, let's look at a couple of example outfits that are perfect for fall.

Fall Outfit #1: Business Casual

Business casual fall outfit

shirt | sweater | chinos | boots | watch

Fall Outfit #2: Laid Back Weekend

Weekend fall outfit

sweater | jacket | chinos | shoes | watch

Fall Outfit #3: Going Out

Fall going out getup

shirt | jacket | jeans | boots | watch

I hope these outfits give you some ideas for how to layer up with confidence this fall.

If you want more outfit ideas, you can always check out the growing Outfits archive over at The Modest Man.

Stay stylish, my friend!