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Layering clothes: 5 men’s fashion essentials to transition to cool-weather style

How to layer clothes with 5 essential pieces every man should have in his closet

Fall weather can change by the hour. You can head out for a morning jog bundled up. Then, you head to work in a sweater and slacks, only to wind up wishing you wore something lighter by the time lunch hour rolls around. At that point, it’s so warm you can eat outside. Head home from work as the sun sets (beautiful — but a bit depressing), and suddenly, you’re freezing.

Figuring out what to wear can be more complicated than your workday. Layering clothes can have you ready for everything Mother Nature throws your way. Certain pieces give you the freedom to wear them when needed and shed them when not. It can seem challenging — another item to match with your outfit. However, five classic pieces make layering outfits a cinch. Here’s how to layer clothes for cold weather.

a man in a crewneck sweater speaking with a woman in a blazer

Pullover crewneck sweater

Crewneck sweaters never seem to go out of style, making them a staple worth stocking up on for cooler months. Not only are they classic, but they also layer well over T-shirts, polos, and button-downs. You can also throw blazers or leather jackets over them, depending on what the occasion and weather call for.

Play with different styles and textures. Rib-knit cuffs allow you to roll up your sleeves and allow other layers, such as button-downs, to shine through, too. Or, opt for three-quarter sleeves for an even more layered effect. Cable knit crew necks ooze cozy vibes. It’s worth opting for one in several colors, so you can mix and match as you become a pro in how to layer clothes for cold weather.

Light, waterproof jacket

April has a reputation for being the rainy month, thanks to the old line, “April showers bring May flowers.” Fall isn’t immune to rain, though. It’s hurricane season, and even areas not typically in the eye of storms can catch remnants of them. A light, waterproof jacket is easy to layer during chilly mornings or evenings, rain or shine, and pairs perfectly with boots.

Opt for a classic yellow slicker to stand out. Tan,  black, or gray ones offer a more muted look. A longer trench coat looks more formal and will keep legs dry, while a shorter raincoat gives off more casual vibes and may make going from workout to work a breeze.

Cardigan blazer

You likely have plenty of blazers and cardigans. However, a hybrid of the two is worth trying on for size (and style). It’s what it sounds like — a sweater with lapels, a la a blazer. The piece adds a unique layer of style and presents a happy medium between the formality of a blazer and the cozy, casual feel of a cardigan. The cardigan blazer works with any under-layer, from a crisp button-down shirt to a light V-neck.

a man looking in the mirror with a vest and buttondown and tie


Vests add a little extra warmth but won’t leave you sweating on a 60-but-breezy day. There are plenty of styles to choose from. Solid wool, cable knit, and argyle are work-wear classics. Pull them over collared button-downs and even ties for a timeless look.

Puffer vests are versatile outerwear pieces that you can use for layering clothes while commuting, running errands, and skiing. A red vest will have you standing out in the store or on the slopes. However, more subtle colors, like forest green, black, and navy, are available at major retailers, from Macy’s to Amazon.

Long-sleeved T-shirt

Like the crewneck sweater, a long-sleeved T-shirt is an essential piece for layering clothes, and you’ll want several for your rotation. They make for comfortable undershirts and can prevent a cable knit sweater from feeling itchy. However, you can also showcase them while looking effortlessly stylish when paired with a vest or underneath a cardigan blazer. Opt to have a variety of colors in your wardrobe, from bright greens and blues that pop to basics like white, black, and navy.

Knowing how to layer clothes for cold weather is a clutch skill during the fall months when Mother Nature’s plans are anyone’s guess (including your local meteorologist’s). Rain, sun, clouds, heat, cold, and even snow are all potential forecasts in certain parts of the country. Layering clothes doesn’t have to be complicated, though. Investing in key pieces like vests, long-sleeved T-shirts, and crewneck sweaters will give you the necessary building blocks. When layering clothes, playing with texture can add an element of style. A crisp button-down shirt with a cable knit sweater or sweater vest will have you looking timeless without boring. You can also freshen up looks by rolling the sleeves of your top layers at the cuff, which shows off the bottom one, too. Have fun with it, and opt for pieces and colors that suit you.

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BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
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