Cold Weather Gear: How to Dress for Winter
Just because winter requires more layers to keep you warm, it doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style. The perfect winter clothing wardrobe prioritizes both, preparing you for happy hour, the office, a swanky soiree or an exciting outdoor adventure. Before it gets too chilly, take stock of what you already own and love, replace a few items and add to your cold-weather staples.
A winter coat is a non-negotiable if you live anywhere with temperatures that drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. To accommodate different occasions, we recommend keeping two (or perhaps three) reliable winter coats on hand.
- Wool coats: These are ideal for colder climates. They generally come in a neutral tone—like beige, cream, blue, grey or black—and cover your body from neck to knee. For a more formal wool coat style, try a peacoat, which features buttons down the front and is often more fitted.
- Puffer coats: This winter coat gets its name because it looks and feels puffy. Puffer jackets are usually filled with down feathers or a synthetic material, which gives them their poofiness and creates an insulation effect that helps keep you extra warm.
- Shearling/faux fur: Bring some luxurious texture to your wardrobe with a shearling or faux fur winter coat. These often feature fur in key areas—such as the wrists and neck—which creates a sense of dimension while stimulating warmth.
- Bomber jackets: The bomber jacket was inspired by the military flight jacket. It comes in many material types but is generally a lightweight material that stops at the ribbed waistband.
- Leather jackets: Leather and faux leather jackets are a true classic worthy of anyone's winter clothing collection. They come in many silhouettes and colors and work especially well in that transitional time between chilly autumn and frigid winter, and then again in early spring.
- Blazers: A blazer is not quite a jacket or coat, but rather an additional layer you can wear for extra warmth and style. Pair with a blouse for a polished, professional look.
Winter Tops: Sweaters, Cardigans and Vests
The perfect winter-ready top ensures you look great after shedding your outer layer.
- Long-sleeve shirts and turtlenecks: For a simple but sophisticated outfit, throw on a long-sleeve shirt. A turtleneck adds more warmth and looks chic under a blazer.
- Cozy sweaters: You might as well just call winter "cozy sweater season." We recommend keeping a handful of options in your wardrobe so you're never without one. If you're narrowing down to just two, opt for one oversized sweater and one in a traditional fit. A cashmere sweater is a winter wardrobe staple that offers extra cozy, luxe-feeling warmth.
- Sweatshirts: Put on a sweatshirt anytime you want to keep it casual and ultra-comfortable. Sweatshirts also act as a nice extra layer over a tee.
- Sweater dresses: A sweater dress is exactly what it sounds like: a sweater material that wears like a dress. For extra warmth, you can pair stockings underneath.
- Blazer cardigans: This winter clothing all-star combines two favorites into one—you've got the coziness of a cardigan but the elegance of a blazer.
- Vests: Vests bring an additional, dynamic layer to your outfit for moderate warmth around the torso.
Winter Pants and Leggings
Once your shorts are in storage, you'll need some winter pants and leggings to complete your day-to-day outfits.
- Denim: Few garments are as classic or versatile as a pair of jeans. Aim for a collection of three to six pairs, each in a different wash and style. For winter, we specifically recommend full length jeans in a darker wash versus cropped or ripped jeans that feel more summery.
- Winter leggings: Winter leggings are slightly thicker than your usual pair so you don't have to worry about getting chilly. They're super versatile and can be worn outdoors, to yoga class or with your favorite cozy sweater.
- Coated leggings: While regular leggings have a soft feel to them, coated leggings have a wax-like finish on the outside that looks a bit like leather and keeps you warmer while looking sleek.
- Fleece-lined leggings: If you're planning to be anywhere extra cold, pick up a pair of fleece-lined leggings. These cozy bottoms look like the original but have a layer of soft fleece inside that keeps you toasty.
- Sweatpants: A pair of loose sweatpants is ideal for lazy days at home or errand-running, while a more fitting pair ensures comfort with an extra dose of style.
- Thermal pants: Also known as long underwear, thermal pants are a thin, base layer often made from a moisture-wicking material.
Boots and Winter Shoes
The right winter footwear is a must, whether you're stomping around in the snow or simply trying to keep warm on your grocery run.
- Booties: Booties can be dressed up or down. They often have a leather or faux leather outsole and a low to mid heel.
- Tall waterproof boots: Add a pair of these shoes to your winter clothing collection if your commute regularly involves walking through high snow, sleet or puddles.
- Adirondack boots: Though you can technically wear them anywhere, Adirondack boots were built for rough terrains. They're often lined with a cozy material—like wool or fleece—and have great traction on the soles.
- Snow boots: Snow boots are intended for extremely cold temperatures and consistent snowfall. They're built to keep moisture out and are insulated to keep you extra warm. They might be too warm if you live somewhere that doesn't consistently experience sub-freezing temperatures.
Hats, Gloves and Accessories
No winter clothing collection is complete without a few warm accessories.
- Beanies: Keep your ears and head warm with a simple beanie. If you want a more statement-making option, consider a beanie with a pom-pom on top.
- Scarves: To prevent your neck and chest from getting cold, wrap yourself up in a scarf. Keep a few color and texture options on hand to easily switch up your outer layer look.
- Winter gloves: A pair of winter gloves will keep you warm in your day-to-day activities. If you're hiking or taking to the slopes, opt for thick, water-proof gloves.
Cold Weather Workout Gear
Winter sports can range from skiing /snowboarding to snowshoeing, running or hiking. Wherever you go, you'll want to dress in layers and prioritize warmth, comfort and moisture-wicking materials.
- Winter running and hiking: For hiking, walking and running in cold weather, we recommend thick winter leggings and a long-sleeve, moisture-wicking tee. You can add an sport jacket or hoodie on top.
- Skiing/snowboarding gear: Start with a thin, moisture-wicking base layer on the top and bottom. Then layer on waterproof ski pants, a snowsuit and/or a ski jacket.
How to Layer Clothing for Cold Weather
Multiple layers of clothing means increased warmth, which is especially nice on frigid nights or in scenarios where you'll be outside for extended periods. If you do find yourself too warm, simply peel one or two of the layers away.
As a general rule of thumb, start with thinner materials and garments underneath and then layer heavier items on top.
- Base layer: This layer of clothing sits closest to your skin. Look for moisture-wicking, lightweight materials and a comfortably snug fit. This allows you to wear middle and outer layers without a bulky feeling.
- Middle layer: Your middle layer consists of everyday garments, which vary depending on where you're headed. For example, in casual settings you could wear jeans and a sweater, while a sweater dress and a blazer might work better for the office.
- Outer layer: This final layer includes any garment you can add and remove as needed throughout the day, including coats and jackets, ski pants and even accessories like hats and gloves. Outer layer garments help keep you warmer by shielding you from wind, precipitation and cold air.
If you have any noticeable gaps in your winter clothing wardrobe, now's the time to fill them in before it gets too cold. Here's to keeping cozy, warm and healthy as we move through these chilly months.