Sunday 8 December 2019

The knowledge: How to work winter layers

J.Crew creative director Jenna Lyons
J.Crew creative director Jenna Lyons

Jenna Lyons

The creative director of J Crew gives some advice on how to achieve that winter layered look to perfection.

Dress tonally

Choose garments that are in the same colour family - it's the easiest place to start. I'm all for mixing patterned and textured pieces, but picking ones of the same shade will prevent your outfit from looking too messy. For example, wear a dark leopard-print with brown tartan and deeper brown paisley, or silver sequins with grey herringbone and a grey cashmere scarf. My fail-safe combination is triple denim: jeans, a chambray shirt and a heavy jean jacket. I love the mix of different textures as well as the denim colours.

Make a shirt your staple

I have an entire rack in my wardrobe devoted to shirts. A crisp white shirt looks good under anything, and there are so many variations: French cuff, beaded collar, tunic, mandarin, tuxedo, Swiss dot, pique . . . I could never have too many. Leave the collar and cuffs poking out to frame the top half of your body.

Choose different textures

There are three main elements that I like to include in my layers: something crisp, such as a white shirt; something soft, like a cashmere sweater or a Puffa jacket; and something structured, like a blazer. Stay away from multiple layers of the same texture, such as knit over knit or jersey over jersey, as the lack of contrast between the garments isn't interesting to look at.

I'd stop at three layers of clothing, but after the third, you could add an exciting accessory. When you're layering, it helps to have different size options, so I often buy the same garment in multiple sizes. I do have quite a few J Crew men's crew-neck sweaters in cashmere. I buy them tight to wear under a blazer, and big and sloppy to wear over a shirt.

Mix your metals

I like to stack rings and bracelets in varying shades of gold. Wearing a range of metals looks less prescribed and more collected, as if you have layered them on over time. I also like jewellery that feels signature - I think it's important to have a 'thing'.

Shop for your body type

When it comes to buying a winter coat, proportion is important and can look really interesting when pushed to the extreme. Ignore trends and play to your strengths instead. If you are small, for example, accentuate your size by keeping proportions super-tight with a slim-fitting coat. If you are tall, like me, try an oversized men's coat - a size too big. Now I am a bit older, I'm starting to wear tailored coats more often as I think they give a nicer shape and look more polished.

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