Real People: Layering Knitwear
Layering is usually done simple enough: on top of an undershirt goes a long-sleeved woven shirt, then a sweater, then a jacket, and finally – if the weather is freezing – you can add a heavy coat. In the cool temperatures of early spring and late fall, however, you can make a more interesting look by just laying knitwear itself. The principle is the same: the layer closest to your skin should be lightweight, and then on top of that you can add something heavier.
Our own Pete from DC shows how this can be done well. The black sweater is a fisherman’s rollneck by SNS Herning, and the knitted jacket is by Engineered Garments. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the rollneck is actually knitted with a bobble stitch, which creates a slightly textured surface. A bit like my post on boring outerwear, the use of texturally interesting fabrics here keeps things pleasing without the need to turn to patterns or odd design details. 
The jeans, if you’re wondering, are three-year old APCs, which are valued by many because they fade to that handsome sky blue you see above. The shoes were designed by Supreme in collaboration with Padmore & Barnes – the second of which was the original maker of Clarks’ Wallabees. Padmore & Barnes recently re-launched with a line of Irish made shoes. I admit I wanted to buy some of the boots just so I could say they “had to be, the best thing since my socks in Clarks Wallabees.”

Real People: Layering Knitwear

Layering is usually done simple enough: on top of an undershirt goes a long-sleeved woven shirt, then a sweater, then a jacket, and finally – if the weather is freezing – you can add a heavy coat. In the cool temperatures of early spring and late fall, however, you can make a more interesting look by just laying knitwear itself. The principle is the same: the layer closest to your skin should be lightweight, and then on top of that you can add something heavier.

Our own Pete from DC shows how this can be done well. The black sweater is a fisherman’s rollneck by SNS Herning, and the knitted jacket is by Engineered Garments. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the rollneck is actually knitted with a bobble stitch, which creates a slightly textured surface. A bit like my post on boring outerwear, the use of texturally interesting fabrics here keeps things pleasing without the need to turn to patterns or odd design details. 

The jeans, if you’re wondering, are three-year old APCs, which are valued by many because they fade to that handsome sky blue you see above. The shoes were designed by Supreme in collaboration with Padmore & Barnes – the second of which was the original maker of Clarks’ Wallabees. Padmore & Barnes recently re-launched with a line of Irish made shoes. I admit I wanted to buy some of the boots just so I could say they “had to be, the best thing since my socks in Clarks Wallabees.”

Real People: Layering Lengths

The ideal men’s casual ensemble, as etched into stone tablets handed down to Steve McQueen by a god resembling On the Waterfront-era Marlon Brando, involves straight or slightly tapered pants worn a little below the waist with a slight break at the hem, sneakers or leather boots, a shirt or tshirt either tucked or untucked and ending just below the beltline, and a jacket that’s just a little longer. These are the commandments of flattering proportions in layering.

But the geometry of good layering is more complicated than that. Adrian in DC's photos often show off a sophisticated sense of proportion and length that just slightly subverts the military/sportswear styles from which most of our casual dressing norms derive. In the top photo, Adrian's midlayer denim is shorter than his shirt, and not just a little bit. In the lower left, he layers a shorter jersey tee over a longer one. The lower right photo's layers are not as unusual, but maintain the “A”-shaped silhouette that literally inverts the traditional, shoulder-emphasizing “V” of most western men's clothing. Making sure it doesn't look like an accident is key—note Adrian's shirt sleeve length is precise and the colors he's wearing are basic but complementary, not mismatched or sloppy. It's not generally advisable to mimic directly a brand's lookbook or runway show, which after all are primarily marketing tools rather than how-to guides, but Engineered Garments fall 2011 book and Siki Im’s work were some of the places I initially saw layering like this and thought it looked good—both lines use a lot of sportswear elements but aren’t afraid of aprons or tunics as layers.

I don’t yet have any recommendations for a best value tunic.

-Pete