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Let James Bond teach you a valuable winter fashion lesson: Layering

Let the world's best super spy teach you how to stay warm and versatile in style

There aren’t many fictional characters who can direct men’s social and physical direction the way James Bond does. Indiana Jones, maybe? From Sean Connery sporting the blue romper in Goldfinger to Daniel Craig’s Navy tuxedo in Spectre, he can always be counted on to show us what’s in style.

You can also take some lessons in men’s winter fashion from 007 if you pay attention. In Skyfall, his third outing as Bond, Daniel Craig taught us all how to do one of the primary skills in fashion: Layering.

Basics of layering

Daniel Craig as James Bond

The point of layering is to give you versatility in multiple scenarios. Have you ever had to go from a cold outdoor to a warm indoor environment? Dress warmly for the winter weather and then overheat at the Christmas party? Layering gives you garments to keep you warm outdoors that you can take off indoors, which makes learning how to layer outfits a vital cold-weather skill.

There are four items to layer properly: The base layer, light layer, heavy layer, and accessories. Here’s how to layer to keep you comfortable and stylish, as taught by his royal spyness, James Bond.

Base layer

Long-sleeved taupe shirt

The beginning of every great layered outfit is the base layer. While the most formal layered ensembles begin with a dress shirt, the casual outfits involve something more like a henley. James Bond’s Skyfall outfit starts with this All Saints “Jenkin” long-sleeve henley.

When you start with a light and breathable fabric, it keeps you cool when needed. Or you can go with a thicker waffle-knit henley that can retain warmth and keep you comfortable in the cold.

Light layer

Man in long-sleeved teal shirt

Once your base layer is set, you need to throw a light layer on top to help find the middle ground between this layer and the heavy layer. The most effective version of the heavy layer is the sweater. Since sweaters come in a variety of thicknesses and weights, there’s a lot of versatility to the garment.

Daniel Craig opted for this teal-colored N. Peal cashmere sweater. If you want to go with something other than a sweater, a good mid-weight, quilted vest to get you from the base layer to the heavy layer.

Heavy layer

A photo of Daniel Craig as James Bond next to a photo of an olive green coat

The heavy layer should almost always go on the outside of the ensemble, whether it be a sport coat, a suit coat, or a jacket. For dressier looks, a sport coat or suit coat over a dress shirt and sweater can finish off a great office or party outfit. As your ensembles get more casual, you can opt for bomber jackets, waxed jackets, or peacoats.

Daniel Craig topped off his Skyfall look with a British staple, an olive Barbour x ToKiTo “Beacon Heritage” sports jacket. This is by far the most expensive piece and likely will be in any outfit you build.

Accessory layer

Daniel Craig as James Bond

Your accessory layer is most often a scarf or a shawl. It’s light, easy, and typically thrown on as a bit of an afterthought, but with intention. If you elect to go with a scarf, there are varying thicknesses to choose from. The best rule of thumb here is to compare the thickness of the scarf to that of the sweater. They should be as similar as you can make them to keep your look consistent.

James Bond is often seen in basic solids. He chooses high-quality garments that are tailored to him. This keeps everything versatile and always in style. If you want to play with the look, try to allow one item (two at most) to be in a pattern. The more solids you incorporate into your wardrobe, the easier they are to layer with other items.

There you have it. James Bond has reached out from the screen to give you a lesson in how to layer clothes. Take his example and apply it to your wardrobe, and in no time flat, you’ll be the style icon of your group the way he’s been for all of us.

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Mark D. McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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