How to dress to stay warm in winter and look stylish
And just like that, it’s dark and cold again! I always thought winter outfits were more stylish and easier to put together. However, can we possibly look nice outside when it’s freezing? Cold winters can take all the excitement out of dressing, as many choose warm and cozy over style. Unless, we do not have to choose. You can stay warm without sacrificing style at all.
When I started my career in fashion retail, I managed a big Italian flagship store in London. The busiest floor was the ground floor, so I spent most of my time there. There were 3 huge double doors open at all times, no matter the weather outside. Learning to stay warm while looking nice and put together was a key requirement.
The secret? My 5 cold-proof layering rules!
It’s time for coats, warmer sweaters, scarves, and gloves to wrap up in. Below are my favorite cold-friendly tips to stay warm during the Winter season, and if you want some hands-on inspiration, you will find the best winter outfit ideas here to copy right now.
The 4+1 layering rule
Layering is the key to surviving a cold winter without giving up on style. When layering your clothes, imagine layering the components of a cake. Everything has to be in the right place to work to avoid moving around like the Michelin Man. According to the diktat, you should never wear more than 4 layers, with a small exception for when it is really, really cold: 4+1. Let’s have a look at how it should work.
How do I layer my clothes effectively?
Bottom Layer – This will come directly in contact with your skin. The main purpose is to keep you dry and deal with your sweat. Nothing is worse than starting to sweat while wearing layers designed to keep the moisture in. Oops! Choose a light fabric. Silk or cotton are great options!
Instagram has plenty of pictures of brave ladies going out with bare legs and feet during winter. I don’t believe I’ll really be able to join them 😀
A nice pair of tights won’t just keep you toasty, but will also help you achieve a leaner silhouette. There are plenty of choices. Cashmere, opaque, detailed or total shaper tights will get a better result than purple goose-bumped bared legs.
THE EXPERT TIP – The trick here is choosing the correct fabric. I am very fond of an ultra-light fabric made from silk and wool. These tops and bodysuits are feather-light, close-fitting, and comfortable. I wear them under all my winter outfits. Merino wool tank tops are a great alternative.
Middle Layer – The purpose here is to retain body heat to protect you from the cold. The general rule of thumb is to choose a thicker garment for this layer as it will better insulate. Knitted sweaters are my go-to option here.
Top Layer –
To shield you from wind and rain when needed. Wool or down coats are perfect when you spend time outside.
THE EXPERT TIP – Keep in mind that the coat will need to complement the majority of your outfits during winter. It’s best to choose a neutral color like black, grey, or camel. The warmest option is 100% wool, but some nylon in the blend will help the coat look newer for longer. Avoid any fabrics made from more than two fibers blended together, as it is most likely to start pilling.
Accessories – No matter how many layers I wear, I would still be cold unless I am wearing my wool hat and scarf. Adding cute accessories is also a great way to elevate your style in any outfit.
2. CHOOSE THE RIGHT FABRIC
What are the best fabrics to wear in Winter to stay warm?
When it comes to staying warm, wool is your best option. It keeps moisture away from the skin and is very good at trapping heat. For example, Merino wool is incredibly comfy and long-lasting. Cashmere is the most luxurious version and feels wonderful due to its softness. Cashmere sweaters aren’t the easiest to look after, but they look the smartest. Alpaca is less common but beautiful and definitely worth your attention. Lambswool comes at a better price point.
Why wool sweaters pill?
The formation of fuzzy balls on the surface of wool clothes is called pilling and may imply a worn-out look. It is caused by friction on extra fibers present in natural textiles such as wool. It is important to understand that it is absolutely not a sign of low quality. Quite the contrary! The presence of pilling indeed confirms that delicate and fine fibers created the fabric. The more valuable the material, the more it will pill.
Because a sweater will pill from rubbing during wear, it most often occurs on the elbows, armpits, sleeves, and sides.
How to prevent pilling on wool sweaters.
As mentioned above, some pilling on real wool sweaters is expected. However, there are some tips to help to prevent the formation of pills.
- Turn your wool clothes inside-out before washing (a very gentle hand wash is a must with delicate fibers such as wool).
- Fabric softeners are not recommended as they may increase the formation of pills as the fibers relax.
- When possible, try to minimize abrasion while wearing wool (for example, choosing a handbag over a crossbody bag).
3 easy ways to remove pilling
- The formation of pills is a gradual process. Taking care of a few at a time on a regular basis is much easier than removing huge amounts on several sweaters once a year. So if you have a new sweater, try to remove, by hand, the very first pills that may form after a few wears. This way, your new sweater will stay in immaculate condition for longer.
- The most effective way of giving wool, especially cashmere, garments new life is to use a pilling comb. Very carefully comb the fuzz away from the surface of your wool sweater a few times. It will thoroughly remove the lumps without ruining the fabric.
THE EXPERT TIP – At this point, I have a confession to make. While the pilling comb is certainly the most appropriate (and therapeutic) way of getting rid of the fuzz, there is a little trick I learned while working for a pretty notorious Italian brand very well known for their wool garments.
When I am in a rush and have a lot of pilling to remove, I use a razor blade. It’s faster, but there is a greater chance of ruining a sweater so try to avoid it if possible, and also do not try this method on your favorite one 🙂
- You can easily find small battery-operated pill removers available to buy, also called fabric shavers. However, I never found them very effective, and the battery seems to run out quite quickly.
3. THE TURTLENECK SWEATER
When it’s cold outside, a turtleneck (preferably in cashmere) is a must.
It’s actually one of my favorite garments of all time, and I have them in many colors.
I have a good story to tell here….if you know a bit about me, you know how much I love to tell you about the history behind a piece of cloth 🙂 Forgive me! I can’t resist! So here we go again…
In Italy, a turtleneck is referred to as “Dolcevita”. Legend says it takes its name from the final scene of its namesake movie by Fellini. Mastroianni is on a beach wearing a black shirt and a foulard of the same color. From the far eye of the camera, they blended into one, coming across as a turtleneck.
If this romantic explanation isn’t enough to get you to buy one, I don’t know what is.
From the sweater girls of the ‘40s and ‘50s, who wore them extremely tight to enhance their curves, it’s with the existentialism of the ‘60s that the turtleneck became a feature of every French highbrow circle. The turtleneck became the IT garment of minimalist fashion that fought for cultural and social emancipation – especially for women.
Thanks to Parisian singer Juliette Gréco, who became the symbol of this philosophy when she nabbed the iconic turtleneck from the male wardrobe. It became a declaration of independence far away from the pin-ups of the two previous decades as a symbol of having something to say, not something to show.
Under a blazer or a loose sweater, or on its own, a turtleneck will keep you warm and stylish. The latest mode is to wear it tucked into a pair of high-waisted trousers. Be sure you stock plenty of them, not overlooking the sweater dress version.
What is the difference between a turtleneck and a high-neck sweater?
Turtleneck: neck material piece folds over on itself.
High-neck: neck material piece stands straight without folding over on itself.
4. DOUBLE SWEATERS ….WHY NOT?
According to outfit etiquette, the sweater should be a focal point of your ensemble. Nevertheless, the latest fashion trends teach us that as it gets colder, the double sweater look can be the ace up your sleeve. Yes, you absolutely can wear two sweaters at the same time, as long as you pay attention to proportions, colors, and materials. Ideally, you will pair a slim, fine-knit sweater with an oversized, chunky one. A fool-proof combo is the dolcevita sweater (see the point above), cleverly worn under a chunky long cardigan.
5. WEAR A (FAUX) FUR COAT TO BRAVE THE COLDEST DAYS
The truth is that a nice wool coat may not be enough for the coldest days, and your bulky puff coat might be a bit too casual.
A faux fur coat can be an excellent solution to staying warm and stylish at the same time. In all honestly, I don’t wear mine very often. Still, for special occasions or holidays during the colder months, it’s a lifesaver! I also get lots of extra hugs from family and friends when I do 🙂
Soft, warm, and cozy faux fur coats are available in many models and colors. Choose the perfect one for you to stay warm all winter long.
I hope you find some of these rules helpful. It is worth mentioning, also, how accessories will complete your looks while also helping you stay warm.
Hats and scarves are obvious! When it comes to hats, you have choices galore. The most sophisticated and elegant pick is a Borsalino wool hat. Wear large scarves or ponchos stylishly over a sweater or wool coat. Gloves will keep your hands warm, and pay attention to your choice of footwear. For instance, opting for tall boots under a dress.
Oh, and if it’s cold and sunny…don’t forget your sunglasses.