How to Dress for Cold Weather Without Looking Ridiculous

The last time we checked, the Michelin Man look was not the latest trend for winter’s dress code. But, when the weather is more than chilly, what’s a girl to do to stay warm? Here are a few sartorial suggestions for shielding yourself from the cold weather in style, without looking ridiculous.

1. Layer it up

Three beautiful women talking and enjoying

Layers are lovely | iStock.com/Tijana87

Rule number one when it comes to looking haute when it’s cold outside — layer, layer, layer. You’re setting yourself up for fashion failure, and the possible chance of looking rather ridiculous if you try to stay warm with just one mega coat or a massive, chunky sweater. It’s better to do all things in moderation and generate heat through several cool-girl layers –think a button-down or thermal shirt topped with a cashmere sweater and a blazer, all polished off with a structured coat and a scarf. The layers can be shed once inside or when brisk mornings lose their chill.

2. Go monochrome

woman trying winter gloves in clothes store

One hue is super chic | iStock.com/ariwasabi

While we’re always in favor of rich, vibrant hues, too many colors (especially bold primary colors) in cold-weather wardrobes can lead to a slightly disjointed, clown-ish look between all the layers. By staying in the same palette of shades, your layered look instantly takes on luxe new proportions. Winter whites, buttery creams, and neutral khakis are great options to wear in monochromatic fashion. Be careful with blacks and navy; their differing shades can clash rather than correspond. Better to stick with shades of gray or charcoal if you want to wear darker hues. Head to InStyle for more tips on how to perfect this look.

3. Be a fur babe

beautiful woman dressed a coat and fur hat

A little fur goes a long way | iStock.com/Rohappy

Fur has long been one of the most iconic cold weather staples because, well, it’s quite warm and insulating. And, there are plenty of high-quality faux furs that serve quite well in the winter. Worn well, fur is the epitome of classic sophistication. Worn incorrectly, and it’s a woolly mammoth costume. That said, there are a few important things to remember. First, make sure your fur fits your frame and doesn’t overwhelm. Second, consider using fur as an accent via a contrasting collar, a hat, or a vest. And, third, remember that this is no time to cut corners by going for an inexpensive cover-up. 

4. Cinch it in

beautiful elegant woman wearing a coat jacket and sunglasses in city

Cinching a coat is an easy way to look feminine | iStock.com/Rohappy

Cold weather attire can start looking ridiculous, and frankly quite unflattering, when you lose your shape beneath all the chunky, puffy, fluffy stuff. The failsafe way to rescue your frame from oblivion is by ensuring your waist is highlighted. Glamour says this is especially crucial for puffer jackets. Trench coats do a fine job of this, as do blanket coats and cargo jackets; they all feature built-in belts. Or, simply add your own. But, you don’t have to rely on your outerwear itself to highlight your waist. If you’re working with a more shapeless coat or cape, belt your ensemble underneath to cinch in your midsection for a more feminine touch.

5. Exchange puffer for peacoat

woman looking at the ocean

A peacoat almost always wins | iStock.com/Jaim924

One of the reasons those puffer coats get such a bad rap is because they can look quite bulky and unfeminine. Because of their puffiness, they can also be tricky to layer appropriately and add even more heft to the equation if a cinched waist isn’t an option. While not all puffers are created equally, we encourage you to be the princess with the peacoat instead. Peacoats are fashionable and functional; they will keep you warm and look good while doing it. Plus, their classic, structured silhouette has far less potential to look overbearing and comical.

6. Embrace all the accessories

Girl in fashionable clothes with a scarf

A statement scarf is a nice touch | iStock.com/Ales_Utovko

When the weather turns cold, it is no time to skimp on accessories. These stylish accoutrements will ensure you’re dressed to impress (and warm and cozy) no matter how low the temperature drops. Start at the top with a hat; a sleek fedora has cool street cred. Add a patterned scarf to up the textural quality of your ensemble, and don’t forget the gloves for your hands and tights for your legs.

Should you be facing extra strong wind chills, ear muffs might even need to be added to the equation. The trick here is to make sure your accessories all correspond, either in colors or styles. They don’t have to match, but you want to avoid a disjointed look. And, if you’re bringing in a bold pop of color via your tights, for example, don’t compete with it by wearing equally bright gloves.