A Guide to Layering Clothes for Men

A Guide to Layering Clothes for Men

Unless this is your very first rodeo with the snow (and if it is, no judgment: that's what we're here for), you know that layering is the key to keeping warm when temperatures grow cold. From men's long underwear to men's flannel shirts and beyond, the fall and winter season presents a veritable smorgasbord of layering options.

There's no wrong way to layer. But there are certainly more efficient and strategic ways to get the job done. We’re here to help you with your layering shirts for men effectively during the coldest months of the year, so you are all set for whatever outdoor task is on your to-do list.

The Importance of the Base Layer

Perhaps the most crucial part of any winter layering men's outfit is the base layer. Think of the base layer as the foundation of the outfit: if you choose wisely, your body will retain insulation from the start. But if you forgo a base layer, you may feel a chill even if you're wearing a men's sweater, a shirt, and a jacket.

The base layer you decide upon may be decided by the current season and temperature. For late fall or early winter, a simple cotton T-shirt or Henley may be all you need to begin the outfit. But as the season progresses and temperatures decline, you will want to reach for something with greater insulation power. When that time comes, look for a pair of long underwear made from breathable silk or a thermal waffle crew, which can better retain heat thanks to its knit pattern.

In certain super-cold situations, like a day spent skiing or sledding with your kids, you’ll even want to layer one of your men’s cotton tops underneath your thermal or long underwear. More layers never hurt, especially when you’re planning to spend multiple hours outdoors.

What to Wear Above the Base Layer

What you wear above this base layer may be determined by how the rest of your day plays out. If you expect to find yourself in an office or a professional setting, you could wear an oxford cloth button-down or a men's dress shirt. If the day is more casual, a flannel shirt can be an excellent choice. The double-brushed quality of flannel not only makes it cozy but also allows it to trap and store your body’s heat.

Another excellent choice for that next layer is a men's turtleneck or mock turtleneck sweater, which can slide directly over your initial layer. Thanks to the high amount of coverage provided by the folded-over (in the case of a genuine turtleneck) or high (in the case of a mock turtleneck) neckline, you'll enjoy extra coverage at a part of the body that can be the most vulnerable to cold.

If you decide to wear a button-up shirt, you can also choose to wear a crewneck or men's V-neck sweater for a more structured, classic look. The higher neckline of a crewneck may provide greater warmth overall, but it is a small difference. Alternatively, you could select a shawl collar cardigan, which will provide extra warmth and coverage to the neck area.

A men’s cashmere sweater is another great mid-layer option that will keep you warmer than any cotton sweater in your closet. Why? Cashmere is made from goat hair and it’s long been known as a toasty item for the winter months. Yes, cashmere is a little more expensive than other sweaters, but the warmth it brings on your winter commute will help you quickly realize how worth it the investment is.

Go-To Tops for the Outermost Layer

There will obviously be a great deal of attention paid to your outermost layer, as it serves as a literal frontline against the wind and the cold. If it's not cold enough to warrant full outerwear, you can use a fleece vest, a quilted vest, or a more heavy-duty down vest as an alternative.

But once those truly frigid temperatures—and the wind, rain, and snow that may accompany them—have arrived, you should have a proper down jacket or parka ready to go. The question of which will be the better choice may be answered by the immediate state of the weather. Men's down jackets, which derive their warmth from pockets of heat-trapping down feathers, work best as an insulator on cold but dry days.

Parkas, which are sometimes waterproof and often feature large hoods, are made to better handle wet, windy, or stormy situations. In a pinch, though, a down jacket does also protect against the winter elements, whether it’s freezing rain, snow, or just some nasty wind. Get yourself a few winter jackets that you can choose from during the cold-weather months, this way, you’ll have the right jacket for every weather forecast—and jackets to wear with different outfits, too.

Add Some Winter Accessories

Lastly, don't forget about the humble scarf. It may lack the technical wizardry of modern heat-trapping fabrics and technology, but wrapping a simple wool scarf around your neck remains an effective way to guard against wind and cold. On that same note, a wool men's winter hat and insulated gloves are two great final pieces to ensure that you have a toasty-warm winter.

Is there anything worse than cold ears and cold hands when you're out in frigid temps? With your head and hands protected, too, you’ll be ready to spend as much time as you need outdoors this winter. Plus, if you get waterproof insulated gloves, you’ll be able to play in the snow with your kids, too.

With this guide to layering clothes for men in mind, we are confident that you'll spend the next winter feeling just as warm and toasty outside of your home as you do inside. And if you ever feel the urge to layer indoors, you can easily do so with a pair of flannel pajama pants, a Henley shirt, your warmest throw blankets, and a winter-scented candle.


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