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The fitting room

8 Simple Rules of Layering Your Clothes

Ah, summer. Tis the season for warm, sunny days, fun holidays and late afternoons spent tending the garden. Many people believe the season demands sparse clothing in order to stay cool, so simplicity is often the dress code. Like winter, however, layering is possible during summer. The clothes change to lighter materials, the colours lighten and more mankles are present, however. Here’s what you need to know in order to layer when the temperatures rise.

#1 Get Those Layers Lined Up

Whether you’re wearing suits to a wedding or a tweed jacket on a date, there are some rules of layering that apply in both winter and summer. The most important is to line up the layers. This means that the hem closest to your body should be the shortest and the hem farthest from your body should be the longest. This lets you remove each layer without showing off them all.

There has been a recent trend involving reversing the line of layers, with shorter hems on the outside and longer hems on the inside. While this may work with some clothing, it’s difficult to accomplish with summer jackets.

#2 Mix up Your Textures

Another rule that holds true in both cold and warmer seasons is the mixing of textures. Attempting to wear a linen shirt with a linen suit jacket will look odd because there simply isn’t enough contrast. Varying the texture will add a sense of depth. Consider the finish of the materials, such as garment-dyed, brushed or waxed and thickness. Sometimes you don’t have to choose completely different fabrics- as long as they each have a different weave or thickness. This may be enough to make them appear different from one another.

It’s also important to note that just as with wintering layering, thicker fabrics should be used for outside layers, while thinner fabrics closer to the body.

#3 Don’t Give up on Those Dark Colours

Cotton and linen men’s suits and shirts may be on the agenda for your wardrobe this summer, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with cream and beige as your only choice of colour. Brown, deep green and blue are also easy to pull off. Choose darker colours for muggy, but not bright days for the best look.

#4 Know When to Wear Pale Men’s Suits

Always keep in mind that summer doesn’t always act like summer. Sometimes it’s cloudy with a slight chill in the air. Sometimes it’s stormy. These are not the time to wear those cream on cream layers. Instead, consider a light pair of trousers or chinos, a darker shirt (such as blue or green,) matching knitwear and a dark brown pair of shoes.

#5 Forgo the Socks on Occasion

Wrist and ankles have veins that are close to the surface. When these veins are exposed to the elements, they cool us down. Going without socks, then, can help keep you cooler when you’re wearing layers.

Unfortunately, showing off those mankles has a downside: sweating feet and stinky shoes. If you’d rather keep your shoes smelling fresh, wear socks. When you can, however, expose your wrists to the weather or run them under cool water to keep your blood from boiling on a hot day.

#6 Cotton and Linen Aren’t the Only Fabrics

When choosing items to layer, your first choices are probably going to be cotton and linen. It makes sense. They breathe better, hold their shape well and are better with moisture. However, they aren’t the only options you have to choose from. 100 percent wool men’s tweed jackets, trousers and suits can be just as comfortable, depending on their construction. Items that have a loose weave or are made from high-twist yarn are going to offer a lot of ventilation and spring, so it will breathe and keep its shape just like your cotton men’s suit.

#7 Soak up Sweat With Undershirts

Don’t stain your nice dress shirts. Undershirts are easily hidden under the rest of your clothes and can easily soak up sweat to prevent staining. Consider wearing a V-neck option as your first layer. It will remain invisible even if you choose to open your collar. Also, grey is a much better option than white under white shirts. Believe it or not, a light grey stays hidden much easier than a white.

#8 Watch Your Colours and Patterns

As with layering during the cooler times of year, colours and patterns should be limited. Too many and it looks like you picked out your clothes in the dark. A monochromatic colour choice can be pulled off, but it’s difficult to get just the right look. For layering during summer, choose two to three colours and two patterns. The colours should compliment each other and the patterns shouldn’t compete for attention.

When it comes to patterns, give summer a chance to let your playful side out a little bit. Stripes and checks are fine, but floral patterns, silver squares and even Fleur De Lis patterns can be a welcome change to your look. Consider the same when it comes to colour. Embrace bright and pale hues. They’re perfect for those summer days. If you haven’t experimented much with colours or patterns, start out small with your tie until you get the confidence to experiment with patterns and colours elsewhere.

Bonus Tip: Keep All Layers Wrinkle-Free

One of the biggest benefits of layering is that you can remove pieces of clothing, layer by layer, as you become too warm and cool off. Because of this, you need to make sure all the pieces you choose are presentable. Keep them wrinkle-free and have any stains removed prior to wearing them. This will help ensure you look your best should the occasion call for a different layer.

In the summer, many people think that higher temperatures mean wearing as little as possible. However, summer doesn’t always live up to its name. Make sure you’re prepared for chilly breezes, cloudy days and the occasional storm by layering your summer outfits. You can do it easily with these tips.

By Brook Taverner 7 July 2017