The Rail: A Guide To Layering

Smart layering is an essential part of winter. Rather than relying on just one overcoat, you can ensure premium warmth with the clever use of layers. Starting from the base layer and working your way to the outer layers, you can make sure that you stay stylish and warm. Note that natural fibres garments are always good and have stood the test of time. Wools such as cashmere, merino and lambswool are used throughout tailoring, knitwear and outerwear for that reason. Contemporary fabrics are good in as that they can provide extra warmth for intense cold and reassured performance.

Merino wool is probably one of the best forms of fabric to use in layering – it can be used in base layers, jumpers and accessories. The Woolmark Company has been championing merino wool, which has natural wicking and health properties.

The Base Layer

Mercerised Cotton or merino wool t-shirts are a great starting point to base your choices of outfit from. Merino wool blended base layers give natural warmth for those preferring a purer and classic layering option. A little trick to note is that grey t-shirts are ideal for wearing underneath white and light coloured shirts as they don’t show through. Uniqlo’s Heattech is ideal for extreme climates when you might prefer not to wear too many mid layers. If you desire a thermal layer, why not opt for refined merino wool long-johns to keep you comfortable throughout the day.


Uniqlo – Heattech Men’s V-Neck T-Shirt (£10)

Investing in good woollen socks will ensure your feet stay warm due to the wool’s natural insulation characteristics as well maintaining fresh due to natural wicking qualities. Merino wool, cashmere or mohair socks are best.


John Smedley – Omega Ribbed Merino Wool-Blend Socks (£20)

The Mid Layer

Gilets and padded vests are useful layers that can easily be used to wear alongside your suit, jumper or even under an overcoat. These layers tend to have goose down or technical padding that offer unparalleled warmth. In recent years we’ve seen a rise in ‘maximised layering’, with the the likes of bomber jackets and denim jackets being worn under over coats. This adds nice dimension and texture to your outfit but can get too warm if done fully up. However, the beauty of wearing such layers allows you to have your mid layer done up – whether still wearing a piece of knitwear and your bomber underneath – and then leaving your outer layer open or affixed with a scarf.


Penfield – Cirrus Primaloft Bomber Jacket (£163)

When layering, bear in mind your activities for the day, and remember that by layering smartly you can take ensure ease in taking off. To have too many layers may be a better mantra to go by in the winter months and carrying a large tote or holdall around with you will allow you to remove layers and pack them away when not need. Or vice versa, give you the option to apply a layer when required.


Brunello Cucinelli – Quilted Nylon Down Gilet (£1,020)

Final Touches

You can use a scarf or hat to finish off your layered look. Large scarves can be worn to wrap around the neck area or even drape down across the chest and fastened underneath your jacket or overcoat. Make sure the cold doesn’t get the better of you and don’t be afraid to take bold steps in your layering.


Drake’s – Purple Unicorn Print Wool and Silk Scarf (£245)

Chris Chasseaud

Chris is the Style & Features Editor at Ape to Gentleman, and one of the UK's leading style commentators. Having worked in the fashion and design world for his entire career he's well placed to deliver sartorial advice.