Depending on how you define it, layering has been around almost since mankind began wearing clothes. That is because layering can be very beneficial to almost everyone.

What do we mean by "layering"?

Layering - wearing one piece of upper-body attire over another possible outer-layer clothes item, while letting show at the least the upper-center portion of the underlying layer.

Layering enhances sophistication and authority. It's a big reason why the typical man looks his best in a suit.

Some Visual Benefits of Layering

* Increases apparent size of upper torso (chest, shoulders).

* Can minimize thin arms.

* Takes attention off a larger stomach.

* Adds creativity and visual variety in, among other areas, textures (weaves over knits, for example) and mixing of colors (contrast is always eye-catching).

Wardrobe-management Benefits of Layering

* Reduces dependence on seasonal pieces.

* Increases usage of existing pieces that otherwise might not be worn.

* Saves money and storage space.

Also, layering enhances comfort/flexibility (adjust quickly to indoor and outdoor temperatures, through adjustment or removal).

How to Layer

* Outer layers should be different in texture and color from underlying layers. Thicker textures and design details can enhance the layering effect. (For example, picture a top-layer button-down with chest pockets that has the top button unfastened.)

* Outer layers normally should be at least as heavy as the underlying layers.

* Outer layers should always be longer, no matter what some 'experts' advise.

* An outer-layer button-down often needs to be a shirt size larger than the underlying piece - or you can tuck in the other layer(s), which also creates a more refined look.

* A button-down upper layer should hang freely. A shirt jacket is a classic example.

* A well-fitting tee shirt is the standard underlying garment. V-neck is the best collar style for usage as a top-level layering piece. It is okay to place a layer's collar on top of that of the layer about it.

Color Tricks

* Repeating skin, eye, or hair color in the top-center visible portion of a base layer can be very flattering.

* Wearing two layers and matching the lower one to the pants can add height to a shorter man, but might make removing the upper layer a poor idea.

* You will get the most use out of outer layers in neutral colors, such as gray or light brown.

Caution Advised

* Follow the example of most outerwear and don't use boldly patterned items for the outer layer or bold stripes in lower layers.

* If you have a larger rear end and are trying to make the upper body appear broader, do not tuck in the top-layer shirt.

* Do not layer button-downs over button-downs.

* Do not layer collar-less shirts over collared ones.(Yes, you can make an exception for sweaters.)

* A partially exposed bottom layer should not be white, because that will be seen as an undershirt.

* More than three layers is usually too much.

0 + 0 can never equal 1. Layering can boost the apparent quality of items, but not if all the items involved are not good or one is much worse than the others. For instance, wearing a $200 button-down with a $10 tee shirt will only highlight the latter's shortcomings. If it could not stand on its own, it should not be in your wardrobe, much less on your body.

No, layering is not the solution to all image concerns (or world hunger, for that matter). It does not even work for warm weather (need quality stand-alones). Still, in many other instances, the layering technique will do a man good.

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