How To: Skillful Winter Layering

Falling leaves, football and pumpkin flavored everything have given way to tacky sweater parties, tinsel and mistletoe. For some, those with a penchant for loud patterns and sweaters that defy convention and gravity, this is cause for celebration. For others, it can lead to confusion, frustration and concern over pattern, fabric and texture coordination.

Fear not, we’ve got guidelines for easy layering up this holiday season for parties, cocktails with friends, family, clients and colleagues. As with anything when it comes to apparel and personal style, these are guidelines that should be flouted and blatantly disregarded in favor of anything that feels, and looks, good.

Base Layer – Step up your base layer with a quality undershirt. Lady White Co. out of California offers two packs made of USA-grown cotton knit in a tubular design like those worn in WWII. Velva Sheen, a resurrected sportswear brand from the 1930’s, sells two packs with or without pockets. These tees, that get better with age and washing, provide warmth, comfort and can also work on their own once jeans and tee weather returns in the spring.

Shirt Layer – The general rule of thumb is that colder weather demands heavier fabrics, and we, in general, support that rule. But the nice thing about layers is that they’re modular, they can be removed. So, if you have a favorite light chambray or poplin shirt there’s no reason to put it in storage just yet.

We like to use our shirt layer to express some personality, show a pop of color or a print that can peek out under subsequent layers. This layer is usually the best spot to work in a pattern. Another good rule of thumb, that should be violated when it feels right, is to stick with one print or pattern.

For the office, find a patterned twill in warm colors. This fabric will keep you warm in the elements and cool enough inside. Flannels are excellent for casual outings and a quality and airy flannel (avoid Paul Bunyan-style buffalo check) will also look at home in the boardroom. It’s the holiday season, throw on some red.

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Pants Layer – Pants should be heavier in the fall and winter because a long coat will only cover so much and your layers are primarily for the upper body. Go with a flattering fit canvas pant in neutral colors. Struggling with a color palette? Look at the trees and falling leaves around you (light blues with browns, burnt umbers and tans), they’re always good inspiration for a colder weather color arrangement. Our great selection of pants has more than one great option.

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Sweater + Jacket LayerMerino sweaters are the cornerstone of a sensible fall and winter wardrobe. Stick with v-necks in solid colors. Mix it up with a thicker half-zip sweater for cooler days.

When the temperature really starts to drop, replace the thinner sweaters with a chunky cable cardigan. There’s a reason your grandpa still looks cool: the combination of a cardigan, a fine shirt and tan pants will never go out of style.

Jacket + Coat + Accessory Layer – Top everything off with a sport coat that complements your shirt and sweater choice. A slim jacket in merino wool over a sweater and shirt will not only keep you warm, it will transition from work to pretty much anywhere you head after five. When the temperature really starts to drop, a wool overcoat that hits at the thigh is ideal. A camel overcoat is a nice pop of color that will work with almost anything you wear under it. Keep your head warm with a cashmere watch cap, sans pom.

Words by Greg Houser who runs social and content for Visit Richmond. For more style tips and inspiration, follow Greg on Instagram.

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