Cheat sheet for chic winter fashion

Wintertime can give you a hard time in so many different ways. Popular media advertises winter fashion as incredibly classy and satisfying, and at times, as even better than summer fashion (mostly for the benefit of dynastic fashion houses).

However, for a lot of us, the process of putting together outfits for the cold weather can be anxiety-ridden. Especially since individual pieces in their own right do not suffice when it comes to keeping us warm. 

As soon as we begin to layer different garments atop one another, we could always run the risk of looking frumpy. As effortless as it may look, preppy fashion can quickly deteriorate from iconic attires straight out of the frames of Clueless to the profile of a disorganised mess à la Anne Hathaway’s “before-piece” in The Devil Wears Prada

Since overcoats and heat-preserving clothing material, by nature, take up more space and as a result, may appear a bit bulky to manage, the key is to create a contrast between the oversized, voluminous form against a relatively streamlined silhouette. That is the resounding objective that underpins the principle behind the conception of every well-thought-out winter ensemble.

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As we move on, we are going to rehash this very ideal in variegated, adaptive ways while at the same time, understand the purpose behind layering and the utility of staple pieces.

Together, these hacks and creative workarounds will ensure you keep turning heads in eye-catching designs as a revamped version of your summer self, without the hassle of disappearing inside unwieldy clothing. It is time to unlock the pandora’s box of the influencers’ route to styling in effortlessly chic winter fashion for almost any occasion at all — from a nye party to a board meeting. I have you covered.

Layering techniques:

When it comes to layering, the golden rule is “bodycon to baggy”. If you do not have a designer from a fashion house available at your side to advise on your clothing, just go with the thumb rule of feeling the tightness of the material and lining them up in order of the fit of the clothing. For example, never layer a thermal top under a bodycon one. It is going to end up looking ghastly if you do. There should be nothing underneath a bodycon fit, except perhaps lingerie. With the “tight-fitting to loose-fitting” mantra in mind, let us move on to the intricacies of layering practices.

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The torso: If you live in a Temperate zone (like Ireland) or colder (Arctic climate), you need to invest in a bit of thermal wear as your first layer of clothing to keep you truly cosy outdoors. Body-hugging thermal wear, heat-tech or any fleece-lined figure-hugging top should suffice. Needless to say, since this is the first layer of clothing atop which everything else would go, the tighter the fit, the better the end result would look; not to mention, the cosier it will be.

As such bodycon party wear might not be the most congruous choice, but in case, you really want that look, you could instead opt for a form-fitting rib-knit sweater dress.  The trick is to have a snugly-fitted layer of thermal wear beneath the rest of your clothes to stay ultra-warm during winter. If you’re feeling too warm, just shed off your outerwear which you will be doing anyway when you’re indoors, so you’ll be fine. 

In case you want to ditch the thermal top altogether, instead opt for a top that is considerably insulating, like fleece, velvet, knitwear, denim, etc. Keep on reading for a comprehensive list of fabrics suitable for keeping yourself comfortable during winter. 

winter layering

The bottom: A winter essential, this layering technique and I am not overstating this, will change your life. Fleece-lined stockings are one piece of garment that can be worn every day of the winter months, religiously, no matter the size or shape of the outfit that goes on top of them. Since it goes against etiquette codes anyway to not wear hosiery during winter, these tights can not just save the oomph factor in outfits but keep you super comfortable the entire time. If you’re worried your fleece-lined tights might be too opaque-looking, just throw on a pair of sheer tights in a contrasting colour on top of your fleece-lined tights — and you will look like you just have dark sheer tights on; simple, right? Now that you’re armed with this neat little trick, you can go out in absolutely any kind of garb at all made for the bottom half of your body. Since bare legs are not suitable for winter, you can flaunt your stocking-clad legs from under that oversized jumper, even without the need for bicycle shorts! So now you know– this is how the influencers’ do it while we are left admiring their intrepid sartorial choices involving bare legs with the semblance of just a pair of sheer stockings in sub-zero temperatures.

You can wear the shortest skirts, shorts, skorts over these tights, and you’ll still end up looking glamorous and trendy. Or if you’re in the mood for something heavier, your denim trousers would never give away the secret that you have layered them with these stockings underneath. What an ingenious piece of invention!

Winter staples:

Before we talk about the basic pieces that every woman should have in her closet to make her daily outfit selection process during winter a whole lot easier, we need to first commit to memory if we have not already, the order to the layers in a winter ensemble. 

It goes as follows: Top, sweater (jumper/hoodie/any other form of a heavy top not really considered part of the outerwear), jacket, coat, hat, scarf, gloves or mittens.

trench coat
Photo by Khachik Simonian on Unsplash


When it comes to a top, there really is no end to your options. Even if the material is rather flimsy, you can wear thermals under it — very much like how the situation is with fleece-lined stockings for the bottom.

However, there are a few tops that just scream the vibe of winter and can be worn with other winter pieces in such an effortlessly versatile number of ways, that it would be a disservice to your winter collection if you have never experimented with any of the following basic pieces.

The turtleneck is one example of such a winter staple that can be tried on in a dizzying number of ways — layer it with a sleeveless dress on top, put it under sleeveless sweaters, layer it under an oversized button-down shirt, tucked inside jeans or pair them with a tweed skirt– the possibilities are literally endless. Just keep in mind the tight-to-loose fit rule while you’re trying to invent paired combos, and you should be fine.

 The following is a list of winter staples you should keep in your wardrobe for all sorts of style emergencies:

  • Turtlenecks 
  • Roll necks
  • Funnel necks
  • Classy full-sleeved blouses with innovative necklines and designs
  • Long-sleeve bodycon dress (for warmer temperatures)
  • Long-sleeve bodycon top (for warmer temperatures)
  • Long-sleeve cashmere blouse (for office or formal settings)
  • Sweatshirt
  • Flannel shirt
  • Denim tops
Photo by Rick Gebhardt on Unsplash


Staple pieces are as follows:

  • Fitted sweaters
  • Rib-knit sweaters
  • Blanket sweaters
  • Sleeveless sweaters
  • Sweater dresses
  • Chunky sweaters
  • Crochet sweaters
  • Fleece sweaters
  • Turtleneck sweaters
  • Button-up sweaters
  • Jumpers
  • Hoodies (not a sweater, but a thick one can work in the place of one)


  • Fitted denims
  • Jogger’s fit jeans
  • Sweatpants
  • Trousers: faux leather, chino
  • Faux leather pants/skirt/shorts/skort
  • Plaid pants/skirt/shorts/skort
  • Tartan pants/skirt/shorts/skort
  • Corduroy pants/skirt/shorts/skort


  • Puffer jacket
  • Parka jacket
  • Leather jacket
  • Blazer (for more formal settings)


  • Blanket coat
  • Long coats
  • Teddy coat
  • Trench coat
  • Oversized coat with a belt detail
  • Wool wrap coat
  • Faux fur coat
  • Peacoat
long coat
Photo by Ali Pazani on Unsplash

Materials and fabrics:

The following materials and fabrics are sure to keep you warm and comfortable even in very cold temperatures:

  • Corduroy
  • Denim
  • Faux leather
  • Velvet
  • Fleece
  • Polyester
  • Sherpa
  • Acrylic
  • Plaid
  • Knit
  • Tweed
  • Sequin
  • Thermals
  • Faux fur
  • Wool
  • Goose down
  • Crochet
  • Chino
  • Suede
  • Faux patent leather
  • Flannel
  • Tartan
  • Heat-tech
  • Windbreaker
winter fabrics
Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash


The winter closet colour palette differs substantially from its summer counterpart. Pastels, corals and other bright, solid colours are replaced with moodier, more textured tones. You can never really go wrong with layering your clothes in monochrome or pulling off an all-white ensemble. Monochrome does not mean black and white in this instance. Rather it is the careful selection of different pieces of similar-coloured clothing in order to combine them into an ensemble with a uniform or a harmonious colour palette. For example, going all grey, or going all beige with little variations in the tones of the colour worn. Going all red is celebrated as a boldly sophisticated choice among fashion circles.

Black, beige, camel, grey, nude, cream, pale pink, cognac, brown, tan, white, taupe, fawn, khaki are classic winter colours. You can never really go wrong with layering in them. However, if you have that one statement piece (usually an overcoat or a handbag) in a bright, eye-catching colour that really speaks to you, you definitely could add it to your look for that touch of boldness and personality, if you so wish. But please do not overdo it by having more than one element of your ensemble in a bold, feisty colour, except perhaps in the situation where every individual piece of the outfit is an echo of the same colour (monochrome layering).

Monochrome layering


The winter has some of the most festive occasions in the calendar (Christmas and New Year’s Eve), along with its fair share of working days. So whether it is a zoom call or a Christmas dinner with your in-laws or just a Sunday brunch with your friends, the following are interesting outfit ideas for each occasion.

Formal Settings:

Layer that white cashmere stand collar blouse with a double-breasted lapel neck solid blazer in black. A pair of slim-fit black dress pants and a tasteful gold chain will complete the look.

Christmas Dinner:

If you’re not having dinner with your own family that has watched you grow up first-hand, you might not be forgiven easily for a sartorial faux pas. Pair a high neck gold-buttoned gigot sleeve knit top in a feisty shade of red with slim-fit cream chino pants. Put on a burgundy peacoat, a pair of cherry velvet gloves and you are good to go.

Red Monochrome Layering Winter
Courtesy: Pinterest

New Year’s Eve:

A ruched sweetheart neckline velvet bodycon minidress in mocha brown with sheer stockings, thigh-high, high-heeled boots and a gold chain could make heads turn. A fawn longline teddy fleece coat could complete the look with elan. 

Sunday Brunch:

Fitted tan rib-knit sweater with a plaid pinafore skirt, patterned pantyhose stockings, tan lace-up combat boots, tan fedora and a tan trench coat could nail the look quite smoothly.

Hopefully, you are never left clueless again while planning a bomb winter outfit.


Yishi Chakrabarty
Yishi Chakrabarty

As a journalist in Ireland, Yishi primarily writes about women's issues and mental health. Her work includes political analyses and social commentary. Originally from India, she has an academic background in History and Journalism.

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