Sartorial Know-how13 December 2021

How to Layer up for a Stylish Winter

Lee Osborne on nailing the art of cold season layering 

Autumn/winter is undoubtedly my favourite season as it affords a wealth of opportunities for sartorial self-expression and is where the art of layering truly comes to the fore. While I’m always sad to bid farewell to summer, there’s always a tinge of excitement in the air as the leaves start to metamorphosise from their magnificent bold yellows and greens, through to their rich hues of burgundy and burnt orange. As the leaves tumble to the floor there’s no better excuse to embrace the great outdoors than to go on a country walk and rustle and crunch your way through them wearing a pair of brown suede boots, the way Gianni Agnelli would no doubt have done. Paired with cuffed grey flannels, a chunky knit and suede bomber of course.

Autumn/winter fires up my sartorial senses like no other time of the year. I literally cannot wait to burst open the vacuum packs that have been in hibernation at the back of my wardrobe for the past six months. One note of caution though before I begin. As warm and inviting as they may look, avoid the temptation of donning a bulky goose-down parka. It’s rare to find one that will flatter, instead of drawing comparisons with the Michelin man. A far more complimentary silhouette can be achieved by assembling lighter layers utilising pattern and texture to great effect.

These are the key items I turn to each year to add flair to my cold season ensembles.

How to layer a…

1. Suede Bomber

I’ve always considered the best staple pieces of menswear to be ones born out of functional necessity, and the bomber jacket is no exception. Steve McQueen was a big fan, and the bomber is as chic now as it was when he rocked up in the pitlane in 1971 film Le Mans – even more so in its rather suave suede incarnation. The original prototype was developed by Dobbs Industries strictly for the U.S. Air Force and Navy fighter pilots. It wasn’t until the late 1950s that the jackets first appeared in Europe. Revive McQueen’s swagger by pairing it with a chunky knit roll neck and cream cords, not forgetting the rubber-soled suede boots. And if you’re feeling bold, opt for yellow or rust goatskin suede such as these two great expressions from Atacama. With the exception of a patterned scarf, like this Arcuri diamond repeat-pattern blue wool and yak scarf, keep the remaining components of your look monochromatic.

Brick suede Bomber Jacket A1 Cary Brick suede Bomber Jacket A1 Cary


Brick goatskin suede bomber jacket

740 (TaxFree: 606)
Out of Stock
On Sale
Yellow suede Bomber Jacket A1 Cary Yellow suede Bomber Jacket A1 Cary


Yellow goatskin suede bomber jacket

740554 (TaxFree: 454)
Out of Stock
2. Corduroy Jacket

Done badly, you’ll resemble a nerdy school professor. Worn correctly, corduroy will free you from every preconceived stereotype as well as keeping you stylish and warm this winter. I for one am pleased that Corduroy is back in vogue this season as it’s one of my winter go-tos. Corduroy is a cotton fabric that is twisted into thick ribs that are both hard wearing and soft.  Pair this Chelsea jacket from Vicenza-based outfitter Cruna with Claudio Mariani’s Gurkha tailored denims

3. Chalk Stripe suit

The holy grail of navy suiting, the chalk stripe is the height of cooler clime sartorial elegance. Simply pop a cashmere roll neck underneath it and a suede gilet (see more below) such as this one from Atacama on top and you’ll need no further accoutrements to stave off the chill. Again, brown suede boots that go slightly against the formal grain will gain you serious sartorial aplomb and have the great Signor Agnelli’s approval from above.

4. Gilet

The gilet for me is the unsung hero of A/W tailoring – it’s a garment shape that has been around for centuries which takes its name from the French word for cardigan. Its evolution can be traced back to the jerkin, favoured by European peasants in the 15th- Century. Worn as a sleeveless jacket, it was usually crafted out of leather designed to keep the wearer warm while not restricting freedom of movement. This is still the gilet’s main appeal today, but I would argue its versatility is equally important. It looks just as at home over a suit as it does over a sweater or cardigan. Atacama’s light and dark suede versions have got your back here.

Brown Suede Sleeveless Vest Brown Suede Sleeveless Vest


Brown Suede Sleeveless Vest

630 (TaxFree: 516)
Out of Stock
5. Scarf

Scarves work wonderfully well as a constituent part of winter layering. My collection of scarves is bordering on my obsession with ties for the amount of them I own. I even wear linen ones in the summer. The scarf is the proverbial icing on the cake when we speak about winter layering and fundamental to pulling the whole look together. Much the same as jacket and tie combinations, stick to patterned scarves with monochromatic outfits so that the scarf is the star of the show. Likewise if your outfit’s busy make sure your scarf isn’t to avoid a pattern overload. Take this patterned gem from Arcuri as my case in point, likewise this delectable double-sided wool and silk offering from Sèra Fine Silk. For outfits featuring multiple checks or stripes plump for monochromatic versions, even better if they happen to be textured or subtly patterned like this Fumagalli 1891 wool and silk scarf.

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