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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

James Bond actors in costume

There aren’t many fictional characters who can direct men’s social and physical direction the way James Bond does. The legendary 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. During his outings as James Bond, especially in his third outing, Skyfall, which was partially set in chilly Scotland, Daniel Craig taught us all how to do one of the most important things in men’s winter fashion: Layering.

James Bond holding a shotgun and standing next to an Aston Martin

Basics of layering

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 for the best winter fashion: the base layer, the light layer, the heavy layer, and accessories. Here’s how to layer to keep you comfortable and stylish, as taught by Bond, James Bond.

Bond henley
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Base layer

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.

James Bond in Tactical navy ribbed sweater and cargos

Light layer

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, try a good mid-weight, quilted vest to get you from the base layer to the heavy layer.

A photo of Daniel Craig as James Bond next to a photo of an olive green coat
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Heavy layer

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.

Daniel Craig as James Bond
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Accessory layer

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 on 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.

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

More ways to channel your inner 007

OK, we’ve shown you how to layer like James Bond, but that’s not the only way you can channel 007 into your daily life. And we’re assuming you don’t have someone named Q supplying you with gadgets (seriously, how cool would it be to have a submarine car?), so we’ve got some basics that will help you be like Bond.

  • A stylish tuxedo – Of course, this is first on the list. When you picture James Bond, he’s usually in a tux. Having your own tuxedo won’t make you a super spy, but you’ll look great on a formal occasion.
  • A luxury fountain pen – Bond has used Montblanc pens in the past; however, despite how much you beg, the company won’t sell you one that explodes like the one Q made for 007.
  • Martini glasses – We all know Bond’s preferred drink, “vodka martini, shaken, not stirred.” Get a set of high-quality martini glasses and you can make your home bar look like Casino Royale. And if you’re looking for other martini recipes, we’ve got you covered.
  • An Aston Martin DB 5 – The classic James Bond car, first driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger, the car is no longer in production, but there are used models available. However, unless you have hundreds of thousands of dollars lying around, you’re probably not going to be driving one anytime soon. However, LEGO does make a mini Aston Martin DB 5 that comes complete with a mini James Bond, so you can play out your 007 spy fantasies right on your desk.

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Mark 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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