Dressing Warm in Winter Without Bulking

Crystal Guan

Freelance artist with a love for fashion, travel, and photography.


Winter Fashion – Cold Doesn't Mean Bulky.

Just because it is sub-zero outside does not mean you need to just throw on 20 different layers and feel (and look) like a marshmallow. There are still plenty of ways to wear many layers and still feel chic – yes, even when you feel like the cold and wind is going to completely freeze and crack open the skin on your face. And while some places in the world may already be warming up and people are starting to come out with their spring clothes, sometimes the cold outside is just too much.

Clothes – Ways to Layer

Most of your layering is most likely for the tops – but that’s not to say it’s not possible to layer your bottoms as well!

Tops – Thin Layers are Key

The great thing about tops is that there’s so many different options and ways to layer them – and still feel like you can move underneath all the layers you put on. The key is to wear thin layers (except for your topmost layer, which should be your thickest layer), one or two tight layers, and keep the rest relatively loose (but form-fitting!) If you feel like you need it, layer a tank top or camisole first. Then layer on a bodysuit or long-sleeve shirt. Why a bodysuit? They give an extra layer for your behind, which is a plus if you always feel like your bottom self is always freezing. If you still feel as if you are lacking in layers, throw on a t-shirt over your long-sleeved top. It doesn’t matter which. Why not? Because on top of all of that, you’re going to throw on a cozy, fuzzy sweater, a turtleneck, or a thicker, warm (and usually knitted) top. So, all your layers are hidden underneath your top, and you still look fashionable when you need to take off your outerwear.

Jackets/Coats – Double Up!

You could just throw on that parka and say that that’s all you need and walk out the door. But if there’s another jacket you like, say that beige, felt, long coat in the closet, you could layer a thin cardigan underneath the said coat and walk out feeling just as warm. Granted, parkas are pretty great in the fact that there are plenty of options now that have a fur/faux fur lined hood and down-filled insides as well as being fashionable. Just know that you have options for your other coats, especially your longs ones, in winter. If you want to wear your leather or denim jacket? Throw on a hoodie underneath and have the hood hanging out – and you’ll still look good. Just make sure your layers aren’t suffocating you!

Bottoms – Tights Aren’t Just for Summer

Most people wear jeans in the winter. It’s simple and it’s easy, so why not? But that doesn’t mean you have to leave your legs freezing. The bodysuit aforementioned above is one way to keep a layer on your bottom. There’s also a way to add two more layers. Wear thin nylon stockings – the kind that’s super thin and usually opaque. And on top of that layer? Layer on some leggings. If you feel like you’re still going to be cold? Throw on some thigh-high socks. Then your jeans go on top and you’ll feel nice and toasty. But that’s not to say that you can’t wear skirts in winter. Short skirts, while cute, may not be the most practical in freezing cold weather. You could wear them. I’d suggest thigh-high boots to go with them, so your knees don’t ache. But long skirts thrive in winter. You can wear as many layers as you’d like – if you want to wear 2 stockings and 3 leggings – and nobody would ever know. Always go for the heavier material – cotton, flannel, felt – material that won’t blow up in the wind and flip your skirt.

Shoes – Best Shoes for Winter

Thigh-Highs – The Unexpected Extra Layer

Let your thigh-highs shine! Thigh-highs are another great way to throw on a layer for your legs if you feel like your legs are not protected enough from the bitter winter wind. If you’re worried about slipping in those heels, fear not! There are several ways you can make your heels slip-free. You can apply hairspray to the bottoms of your shoes. Coat the bottoms with a rubber glue and salt mixture. Buy a spray-on traction adhesive (yes they actually exist!) and apply them to your boots. Or you can simply scuff or score the bottoms of your shoes with sandpaper or a knife and be on your way!

Short Boots – Go a Size Bigger for Extra Socks

Short boots work amazingly well with either jeans or long skirts. Since there are endless options, there’s plenty of styles. For winter, you might want to buy a pair that’s half a size or an entire size bigger – just so you can layer 2 or 3 layers of socks inside to keep your feet warm.

Accessories – Best Ways to Wear

Scarves – Chunky is Warm

Remember that thick, chunky scarf you bought that one time and never wore? Or the super long scarf sitting somewhere in your closet? Both are great scarves to loop around your head if you’re not wearing a hat and throw your hood up over it, or even around your neck/lower face to shield your face from the cold. Or, if your scarf is long enough, both! The best part? You can style both however you’d like in order to fit your needs at that current moment, and it’s another great layer around your neck to keep you warm.

Hats – Lining Retains Heat

You can never go wrong with a hat in winter. Especially if the inside is furry or filled with a soft lining that retains heat and keeps your head warm. There are also hats that are combined into a scarf with pockets at the end that you can slip your hands into. Three in one? What more could you ask for?

Sunglasses – Protection and Fashion

There is absolutely no shame in wearing a “summer” accessory in winter. The sun glaring off the bright white snow can be blinding, and the wind can feel like stabbing knives into your eyeballs. It’s not just about looking fashionable – it’s also about protection.

Gloves – You Can Double These Too!

If you don’t have a pair of leather fur-lined gloves, try buying a pair of gloves that are slightly too big, and layering fingerless gloves underneath. That way, you won’t always have to keep your hands in your pockets, and you’ll feel like you’ll be able to use your hands freely without the cold freezing them instantly. And there you have it! Plenty of ways to layer in the remains of winter, plenty of ways to stay fashionable. Remember, bundle, not bulk, up!