Let’s face it: Staying warm in winter without looking like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man can seem impossible. Or is it? If you follow a few of these simple fashion tips, you can confidently go out this winter feeling comfy and cozy while still looking smart.

Layers, Layers, Layers

The secret to having fun with winter fashion is layering effectively. You want to pay attention to the type of fabric, as well as the texture. A quick and easy choice could be thin, thermal tops, like these, which you could wear under just about everything. (If you find items that you can layer discreetly under trendier pieces, you won’t need to put so much thought into the outfit.) Otherwise, you need thin, moisture-wicking fabrics like merino wool, cashmere, fleece or even silk. Cotton — while soft and cozy — actually retains moisture, so it isn’t particularly effective as a base layer.

Woman is outside in snow wearing a cream-colored sweater under a black-and-white geometric poncho. She has a black hat on and black leather gloves.
Different lengths in layers add interest

You don’t have to hide your layers. You can repurpose summer dresses by throwing them on over a fitted mock-turtleneck and some cute leggings. Or you could wear a poncho over a light sweater. For added coziness, you could belt the poncho and keep all your body heat close.

Another slimming warming strategy is to play with the lengths of the layers. For example, if you have a cropped puffer jacket (all the rage this year), layer it over a longer sweater so you have something to keep your bottom warm.

Find Balance for Your Shape

The trick to avoiding the Stay Puft look is to balance out the big, warm layers with slimmer styles. If you have a thick, chunky wool sweater — wonderful for warmth — pair it with something form-fitting on the bottom, like skinny jeans or a pencil skirt with leggings. 

Or if you want to try the shawl-over-a-sweater look, but feel like it adds too much bulk, try belting it at the waist. This will emphasize the fact that your body does, in fact, have a shape, and it gives you the opportunity to play with accessories.

Have Fun with Footwear

She’s pairing over-the-knee boots with winter whites.

The shame about the film Pretty Woman being such a large part of our cultural zeitgeist is that it caused an entire generation of women to avoid wearing over-the-knee boots. The truth is: over-the-knee boots aren’t just for streetwalkers! Sure, if you pick red patent-leather ones with six-inch stiletto heels you could be making an unintentional sartorial statement. But there are ways to wear these boots without — as my mother would put it — “looking like you’re asking for it.” If you’re worried, stick to boots with low or flat heels. It’s on-trend to pair them with pants of the same color, which adds to the illusion of longer legs. You could also wear them under a dress, which is fashionable and much warmer than tights.

Even if tall boots aren’t your thing, footwear can really make or break a winter outfit. Chunky boots are back in style (weren’t the ’90s just yesterday?), and their bulky treads are great for trekking over icy paths. Or, you could bring a boring outfit up to the next level by pairing jeans and a sweater with bold-colored boots, like these.

Wear the White

More and more people are shunning the “don’t wear white after Labor Day” rule, and we’re here for it. There’s nothing quite so stunning as an all-white ensemble like this one, or check out this influencer’s gorgeous take on the style. If a monochrome outfit is a bit too much, you can play with this trend by using one white item to pack a punch with other neutrals. Or, you could opt for a cream color instead of a bright white to add a bit of softness to your look.

Add Color Wherever You Can

Winter is gray and dreary enough on its own; add pops of color to your wardrobe and you’ll instantly feel brighter. Playing with your accessories is the way to go. Statement scarfs, hats, gloves, and belts are easy ways to liven up an otherwise blah outfit, and they’ll add warmth, too!

Another way to add a bit of pep to your step is to have a statement winter coat. Yes, we all have the industrial workhorse coat that we can count on for clearing snow off the windshield and trekking to the grocery store, but we’re advising you to invest in one winter coat that brings you joy. It could be a bright puffer jacket or a full-length wool trench, but make it fun. Try a faux fur collar, which is soft and warm and lends an air of luxury to everything it touches. Or, instead of opting for a wintery gray, at least look for a coat with a colorful pattern.

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