When the weather outside gets frosty, it’s easy to forego style and just bundle up in the coziest clothes you own to stay warm. Now, I love a chunky knit as much as the next gal for those snowy days stuck at home, but when you’re going to work or out with your friends, you don’t want to look bulky or sloppy.
So this winter, I pulled together some easy layering tips that make sure you don’t have to sacrifice style for warmth. (Yes, you can have both!) With these outfits, you’ll always be toasty warm—while still looking sleek.
The Strategy: Layer Thinnest to Thickest
The key to not looking over-layered is picking the right pieces and layering them in the right order. A good rule of thumb is to start with the thinnest layers as your base, and work up to something thicker as your last layer or two—for example, starting with a silk long sleeved shirt and ending with a cable knit sweater. This way you can always take off the heaviest (and chunkiest) layer easily once you’re inside. All of the tips below build off this basic idea.
Tip 1: Layer Unexpected, Slim-Fitting Pieces Together
Think you can’t wear a turtleneck and an oxford at the same time? Think again! One trick to staying warm and still looking sharp is mixing your favorite fall and winter staples together in new combinations. Just choose pieces that are slim fitting—both in silhouette and in material (i.e. choose a cashmere turtleneck instead of a chunkier knit).
Also, make sure that all of your pieces are classic in color (think neutrals like navy blue, winter white, camel, and oxblood) and style, so that wearing a bunch of them at the same time doesn’t look sloppy or unintentional.
Tip 2: Don’t Be Afraid to Recycle Warm Weather Clothes
The wonderful thing about summer and spring clothes is that they’re usually made of lighter materials, which makes layering them for colder months (without looking like a snow-woman) much easier. Take that sleeveless sundress and pop a silk button down underneath it to make it look like a jumper. Put on some leggings and a lighter summer sweater, and finish off with a cozy vest to pull together your outfit. Another great trick is layering shorts with sweater tights—although not ideal for the office, pairing shorts and tights can be a great way to mix up your winter wardrobe.
The key here is to steer clear of summer or spring clothes in pastel colors. As long as the palette is darker, you won’t have trouble disguising your warm weather clothes as cold weather clothes.
Tip 3: Proportion, Proportion, Proportion
Another way to avoid looking like Randy from The Christmas Story for the next few months (“I can’t put my arms down!”) is to pay attention to proportion when you’re getting dressed in the morning. Cozying up in an oversized fisherman sweater? Pair it with a slim-fitting bottom, like dark washed skinny jeans or cropped black pants. Wearing a knee length skirt? Finish with a shorter layer on top—like a shrunken sweater or cropped blazer, with a collared blouse underneath to add visual variety (and warmth!).
Tip 4: Wear Belts With Everything
This trick may take a little trial and error to get just right—although a belt will usually define your waist and make you look less bulky, it can also make you appear you larger than you really are if done incorrectly. There’s no hard and fast rule for when and how to wear your belts, as long as you wear them around the smallest part of your waist—just play around with both wide and skinny belts to figure out what looks best with each outfit.
And don’t forget that you can use your belts on your outermost layer, too—your jackets and coats can always use a good belt if they don’t already have one. Add a broken in leather belt, for instance, to a more formal coat to make it a little more casual for the weekend.
(Note: If you have on a lot of chunky layers, it’s often better to just embrace the oversized look instead of trying to cinch your waist—just make sure that you adhere to the proportion rule and pair with skinnier fit on bottom.)
What are your favorite layering pieces for winter?