Categories: Fashion

How to Properly Layer During Winter

Winter is a time for staying warm in style! There’s more room for creative expression, through gloves, hats, scarves, and coats. We get to wear everything we wish we could during the summer and spring. There’s a reason why everyone starts dressing nicer when the cold weather comes around!

Here is how to layer your clothes, and stay warm during the winter, while also retaining your personal style. Maybe it’s your first time experiencing cold weather, or you’re going on vacation somewhere cold, no matter what the case may be, welcome to your masterclass on how to dress for the cold. I am extra qualified to speak on this topic because I was born and raised in Boston, MA, and I currently live in New York City, NY. I’ve never gone without a winter in my life, and I sure as heck don’t plan on going without one in the future. Stick with me, and I’ll show you how to do this right.

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Something to understand about clothing is that not every fabric is created equal. And there’s a whole lot of fabrics in the world. It’s easy to get caught up in tulle, polyester, rayon, and lamés. All of them make for beautiful garments, but you should shift your focus elsewhere to stay warm this winter. One thing that I will repeat until the end of the world is to stick with fabrics made out of natural material. This means cotton, wool, silk, and shearling. Cotton is important because it is a breathable fabric, and it allows you to sweat through it, unlike a polyester. Wool is a staple of winter fashion, and for good reason. People have been keeping warm with wool for centuries, and nobody plans on stopping anytime soon. I’ll get into which products to buy from each type of fabric and why later in the article. By purchasing fabrics made from naturally occurring substances, you cut down on fossil fuel use, and fabric waste. Quality pieces for wintertime use might be an investment, but it will last you a lifetime.

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The Base Layer

Every good house sits on a strong foundation, and the same can be said for outfits as well. The aim of dressing well for winter is to use the warmest fabrics, without looking too bulky. A great place to start is with a pair of thermals. Lots of people overlook thermals because they seem “old fashioned” but your grandparents and great-grandparents wore them for a good reason. Thermals are important because they help you retain your body heat during the colder months. You can find a quality pair of thermals for a good price at Uniqlo, Parade, and Athleta. Before building your winter outfit, put on your undergarments and thermals first.

The Tops

A common sight around New York City is layering a mock neck top or turtleneck under a buttoned-up shirt, or a sweater. Nothing changes when the cold weather rolls around. After adding your layer of thermals, you can put on a turtle neck in a neutral color for more warmth. I would advise buying a turtleneck or a mock neck shirt made from a breathable cotton material, in black or white. Not only will this help you keep warm, but it will also match the rest of your outfit. Do not buy your second layer in a polyester fabric, because it will not let you sweat through. Your sweat will become trapped under this layer, and dry, which will make you cold and clammy. I’ve been to Clammy-Land before, and it is not a pleasant place to be.

Your next layer will be the second to last, and arguably the most important one. The classic sweater. And there are so many you can choose from: cable knit, v-neck, crew neck, quarter-zip, and more. Before you dive into the wonderful world of winter sweaters, you need to know what you’re looking for. For your “top layer” sweater, I would recommend finding a thin cashmere sweater. Your cashmere sweater doesn’t have to be pricey to be effective. I currently own two cashmere sweaters that I’ve found at the thrift store and bought for under $20. If you find yourself thrifting for a cashmere sweater, look for the brand Laura Ashley or Geneva. If you want to buy a new cashmere sweater, NAADAM is a great place to buy from. NAADAM is a sustainable and affordable brand. I like cashmere because it is soft, and not too bulky. I find traditional wool sweaters to be too itchy, and heavy to wear. For the people who prefer traditional wool sweaters and not cashmere, I would recommend shopping from LL Bean or Kiel James Patrick.

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Coats are the final layer on your outfit. Consider them as the frosting on the cake. Your coats are your best friends during the winter, so it is important to find some that are durable and stylish. Everyone should have at least two coats: one puffer jacket, and one heavy wool jacket. Puffer jackets are important because of the windbreaker effect they have, that protect you from the cold winter air. I currently have two of them; one from Columbia and the other from Ralph Lauren. I prefer the Columbia puffer because it is much longer, and falls to my knees, as opposed to the Ralph Lauren puffer that ends at my hips. Call me crazy, but the extra fabric that covers the upper thigh on a cold day makes all the difference. Puffer jackets are your opportunity to experiment with color and texture in your wardrobe. After sticking to the rules of layering, you now have the permission to go bonkers in freaking Yonkers when it comes to the puffer jacket. Try finding a jacket in a color that you love, instead of a boring black or white one. Some puffer jackets come with a faux fur trim around the hood, which adds an extra layer of warmth.

The wool coat is the second part of your coat wardrobe. Wearing a long wool coat out and about is more formal than wearing a puffer jacket. Wool coats add an element of elegance and glamour to a winter outfit. Think of Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl, and the types of coats she wore during the winter. You should opt for a long wool coat, that will cover your legs to keep you warm. Like the base layer, your wool coat should come in a neutral color, such as black, white, or cream. A great place to find a wool coat is from the London brand Santinni Couture.

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If your coat is the frosting on top of the cake, then your boots are the cherry. Your footwear isn’t something that should be trifled around with in the winter either. Once again I advise you to have two types of boots; a set of snow boots, and a set of fashion boots. Snow boots are the elevated version of your rain boots. They are waterproof and durable, and often have a layer of insulation inside of them to keep your feet warm. A great pair of snow boots will last you for years to come. Instead of thrifting a pair, you should buy your snow boots new. My snow boots are from the Ugg brand, and I have had them for about eight or nine years.

PLEASE NOTE: Doc Martens are not snow boots, no matter what Tiktok says. They have no grip for walking on ice and snow. Those can be your fashion boots.

Moving on to fashion boots! You can have fun choosing a pair of these. They do not have to be nonslip, waterproof, or insulated like a proper pair of snow boots. Fashion boots are designed to make you look good and feel good. They are the true cherry on top of an outfit. For the winter, it’s best to stick to a suede or leather fabric. While over-the-knee boots have been popular in the past, the fashion cycle is turning again, and I see a lot more people wearing knee-high boots in New York City.

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What do you like to wear during the winter? Where are the best places to shop for winter fashion? How do you stay warm and stylish? Let me know if there’s anything I missed!

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Kelly Stanton

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