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What Do I Wear There? How to Dress on a Cold Night Out


For this week’s post, I’m going to answer the first “What Do I Wear There?” request. It comes from the lovely Leira, who asked:

“Do you have any ideas what to wear for a night out when it’s cold? I just started college up north, and I have no idea how to dress up if I can’t wear my usual short sleeve/sleeveless tops.”

I totally agree – as the weather gets colder, dressing up for a night out gets tougher. But don’t think that you can’t wear your short sleeve or sleeveless tops anymore! There are ways to make them work well into winter.

Here are three sample outfits for a cold night out. For the first two looks, I’ll show you cute ways to incorporate those lighter-weight pieces into cold weather outfits and for the third, I’ll show some great pieces you should invest in before the temperature drops.

It’s Getting Chilly…

What to wear in cold weather

Product Details: Tuxedo Cardigan, Tank Top, Acid Wash Gray Jeans: TopShop, Bow Headband:, Lace Clutch: Forever 21, Wedge Boots: Alice + Olivia for Payless

For those nights when it’s feeling a bit chilly but not quite cold enough to break out your coat and scarf, opt for a long cardigan. I love this one from TopShop, as its double-breasted style is adorable and unique.

Underneath, you can wear one of your favorite tank tops—this blue one is the prettiest color and it can take you through all the seasons!

Those acid wash jeans we saw on celebrities all summer are still hot for fall, so throw on a pair of those to add some edge to your basic top. Tough, chunky wedges from Payless add some punk-rock edge, while a lace-printed clutch keeps it feminine. As for hair, loose chignon styles are all over magazines right now, so throw your hair into a simple bun. If you’re feeling extra flirtatious and girly, add on a sparkly bow headband!

A Bit Colder…

Dress and Leggings: What to wear when it's cold out

Product Information: Chiffon Skirt Dress, Ruched Clutch: TopShop, Faux Leather Leggings: Wet Seal, Black Cardigan: Miss Selfridge, Boots:, Earrings: Forever 21

If you’re like me, cold weather often has you instinctively reaching for darker colors and ditching fun prints. But it doesn’t have to be like that! You can still wear bright colors and patterns in winter weather, so long as you include seasonal accessories like leggings and closed-toe shoes.

While this outfit admittedly does have a lot of black, I love the rich colors on the dress and the subtle design and coloring of the earrings. I made it winter weather appropriate by adding a pleated cardigan, faux leather leggings, and hip wedges with fabric you can fold over for a funky look.


What to wear in cold weather

Product Information: White Tank: Forever 21, Black Bandage Skirt, Grey Crochet Scarf: Dorothy Perkins, Lace Leggings: Charlotte Russe, Flannel Shirt: Delias, Bow Booties: Wet Seal, Leather Jacket:, Black Rosette Clutch:

For those super cold, windy, awful nights, my best advice is to layer, layer, layer! Once again, you can use a summery tank top as a base but instead of a cardigan, try putting a flannel on for a cozy 90’s-esque look. To keep you snug as you brave the weather outdoors, add a leather jacket over your flannel and a soft crochet scarf!

The braided tank top above would look chic tucked into a slimming black bandage skirt (bonus: bandage skirts are a lot comfier than they look and can actually be really warm). For the final accessories, I love the juxtaposition of classic, lace printed leggings with the more modern shapes of the boots and clutch.

What Do You Think?

Do you have any other advice for Leira on what to wear in cold weather? Do you have a favorite item for nights out when the temperature drops? Any other winter fashion tips you would add? Share them in the comments!

Also, if you have any “what do I wear there” questions, let me know! I may feature yours in next week’s article.

Posted on on September 18, 2009 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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37 Responses to “What Do I Wear There? How to Dress on a Cold Night Out”

  1. 1
    September 18th, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    These outfits are great I love the layers because sometimes the weather can be so unpredictable. You never know if it will stay cold, at least where I live lol.
    I love these outfits ’cause they are so my style. Love them girl keep it up.

    Also wearing leggings on a cold night is the best advise I can give, they always keep me warm but not too warm that I am sweating. lol

  2. 2
    September 18th, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    I really like the outfits you created, Colleen! Plus, it’s nice that you made separate outfits depending on how cold the weather is. The first look is definitely my favorite!

  3. 3
    September 18th, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    I loved the layer ideas! That’s one of my favorite things to do when the weather is starting to get cold :)
    The first outfit was my favorite! :)

  4. 4
    September 18th, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I have been an avid college-fashion reader for quite some time now (nearly 18 months, I expect). I have sincerely enjoyed many of the articles and found them extremely helpful as I made the transition from high school to college. But I admit that lately, things have been different.

    These outfits (like most of the outfits) are cute, if that’s your style. It seems as if lately CF has been sticking to a very specific, particular style that seriously narrows the number of people this site could be reaching. If you like leggings, mens vests, chunky boots, hardware, gladiator sandals, dark color schemes, and other hyper-trendy items, then this is definitely the site for you. But as a clean-cut girly-girl who loves experimenting with fashion, I feel left out. I find it harder and harder to translate the outfit ideas I find here to my personal style.

    I do understand that this is a fashion site, and therefore will obviously be showing a lot of things that are (or will soon be) “in” fashion. That is completely understandable. However, for those of us who do not let the current trends run our lives–or our closets–it would be nice to see a bit of variety in the outfit suggestions.

    I still love CF and will continue to read every article because I especially love the lifestyle articles (I’m really looking forward to the closet organization series), but I would love it if a broader range of styles were represented in the future. =]

  5. 5
    September 18th, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Ohhh do I hate cold nights out, and they are the most bitterly cold here in Canada. :/

    My advice is to just to invest in a good winter coat that you can coordinate with some of your dressier pieces, because that above anything will keep you the warmest.

    And good tights and leggings are a must, unless you like frostbitten legs.

    As for shoes, try to stick with a lower heel if there’s even a chance that there’s ice and slush on the ground.

  6. 6
    September 18th, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    I love these looks, but I’d need a warmer jacket for the weather here. I find that layering two tights really help when its freezing.

  7. 7
    September 18th, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Love the outfits, they’re perfect for fall and winter. Though I have to say, even the “Cold” one wouldn’t cut it past November here in Michigan. Then again last winter we had three weeks of -20 weather, so not much would stand up to that!

  8. 8
    September 18th, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    The first outfit is way cute but I don’t like that last outfit.

  9. 9
    September 18th, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    I completely agree with Julie Oh!

    And my guess is that you’re not from a very cold place. :) Tights will NOT cut it on a cold night–maybe chilly, definitely not cold. Then, I don’t feel like any of the writers understand what cold is really like. When you’re wearing down coats at least four months out of the year, you’re going to need a lot more than a lace tight on your thighs!

    I don’t LOVE the outfits, but I definitely love certain pieces! I do like that you clearly have a certain style, that’s fabulous! Nice article. :)

  10. 10
    September 18th, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    are those alic&olivia boots from last season? i just checked and they aren’t there :-(

  11. 11
    September 18th, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Julie Oh! – Hmm, interesting thoughts! I totally haven’t noticed the change in the styles featured here per se, because I think each of the interns has a very distinct personal style. Since I haven’t noticed much of a difference between the outfits I used to feature here and the new ones, it’s hard for me to really get a sense of what’s changed – I’ve always featured dark colored outfits, gladiator sandals, hardware, etc. in some capacity.. But I’ll definitely take what you said into consideration, it might be hard for me to see. And thanks for the feedback! <3

    Tara – Totally agree – layering two pairs of tights is essential when it’s freezing! Also, I think the “cold” outfit was meant for cold, as in fall cold- not arctic winter cold! Obviously you’d probably need pants then.

    Brooke – Where do you go to school? If you’re in Canada or somewhere really far up north I definitely think most of the writers aren’t from a climate like that so it might be tough to cover outfits warm enough! What are your tips for staying warm and looking cute? Would be interested to hear more!

    Alana – Nope, those are this season.. they were available in-store just a week ago! Maybe they’re sold out? I know Payless did just have a big BOGO sale, so maybe they’re all gone online.

  12. 12
    September 18th, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Canada is sooooooo cold- even these would have you with frostbite at -40 celcius. My advice to canadians- look good under your coat.

  13. 13
    September 18th, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    i love the shows with each outfit, but the outfits themselves i’m kind of “meh” on. i think they just don’t fit my personal stlye. but thats the beauty of this site, i can take a boot and a clutch from this article and pair them with a cocktail dress in another :)

    and i agree with what everyone is saying about the cold outfit, although i’m sure since you’re at NYU (i’m from long island) you know how freakin cold it can get in the city, especially when the tall buildings make a tunnel for a cold wind to whip right through. brrr just thinking about it
    I’d love to see a stylish outfit for when its really really cold.

  14. 14
    September 18th, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    I live in Canada and I am one hundred percent sure those outfits will leave you freezing, even in our early fall weather (I can wear jeans, sneakers, and a thick hoodie and still feel cold in class) – and the area I live is a relatively warmer one. Here, tights won’t cut it any time past mid-fall, but a good winter coat, some thick, cozy cardigans, a nice pair of boots and a toasty set of winter accessories (scarves, hats, gloves) can carry you through nicely in colder climates.

  15. 15
    September 18th, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    I’m comletely jealous of this article because I live in Texas and cold weather here is 80 degrees. :-( Great post though! I wish I could plan cute winter outfits!

  16. 16
    September 18th, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    i really love these articles! its always great to see someone besides a fasion model rocking trends and modeling for CF! although i wouldnt copy any of these outfits exactly, the ideas and some of the pieces are great and i love integrating all of them into my personal style. keep it up girls, ilove all the new writers! instead of waiting for an update on CF, im now striving to keep up with all the articles!

  17. 17
    September 19th, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Hey guys!

    Julie Oh!–I’m so sorry you feel like your style isn’t being represented here! As I mentioned in the article, I do have a tendency to stick towards a slightly darker, more urban look (probably due to my city surroundings) so I’m sorry if I was unable to get out of my “comfort zone.” I try to incorporate different types of trends in each outfits (like the bow headband and lace leggings for a “girly” look while the plaid is grungier, earrings are more bohemian, etc) but I will definitely try to get some more overall variety in there for next week.

    Alana–As far as I know, these boots should still be in stores (I saw them in a Payless window about a week ago). Good luck hunting for them–I definitely think they’re worth the search!

    And to all you Canadian girls, I can’t even imagine your winters! I’m not a huge fan of the cold myself so I am continually impressed by those that can tough out super-cold weather. Since it is just mid September, I figured I’d do more fall-style looks for when the weather is just turning cold rather than when it’s time for the coats, gloves, etc. I’m totally open for doing another similar article for winter weather if you guys would like that!

    As always thanks for the feedback =]

  18. 18
    September 19th, 2009 at 2:25 am

    I think this article was a great idea! The fashions are not my personal style, but I love love loved that black leather jacket. I dress more conservatively but I have always wanted a slightly edgier leather jacket for my wardobe and this one is fab! I haven’t looked into it yet but I think it is from a store in the UK and I hope it will ship to the U.S. Then again that big of an investment might be hard to make without trying it on first.

  19. 19
    September 19th, 2009 at 7:51 am

    hey girl, what’s up? I just want to say cool blog. I’ve been looking for something like CF. btw, on a cold day, a very cold day, leggings are the last thing I would wear. I’m going off to college in a state that snows. Leggings wouldn’t do it for me.

    I think it’d be a good idea to suggest winter fashion for those of us that do live in states or countries as the case may be, where it snows and where winters are very cold and have to bundle up.

    But great blog btw, I’ve been looking for something like this. College is that weird in between state, where you’re not a teen, but not quite ready to buy corporate wear. Keep up the good work. =)

  20. 20
    September 19th, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Thanks for posting on my comment. ;) I especially like the second outfit.

  21. 21
    September 19th, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I also feel that a follow-up post should be made later on about frigid-cold winter fashions. I’ve been waiting for CF to do one, because I need more inspiration.

    Thanks for the article! It’s not my style and but it’s fun to look at.

  22. 22
    September 19th, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Love all 3 outfits! :)

    I have been following CF for quite a while now and I really like this website! I live in Singapore which is really near the equator where it is only the sun and the rain (esp during the monsoon season). Thanks for giving me inspirations on how to dress when I head to colder countries during my breaks.

    And yes…do suggest winter fashion because I know that I can’t take the cold every time I head to a cold country.

  23. 23
    September 19th, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Colleen–thank you for explaining that it was more for “fall” cold weather! I would LOVE a winter weather post! I didn’t realize you were from up north so you probably do understand the plight of those of us who still want to look cute and not freeze!

  24. 24
    September 19th, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Wonderful article! I love the girly lace tights. This may come in very handy for me, as I am from central Texas and about to weather my first fall and winter in Tulsa…which, I know, isn’t cold in the grand scheme of things, but it feels chilly to some one whose idea of dressing for winter is “drat, I may actually have to put a coat on over a sweater this morning. Can’t wait until our month and a half of coat weather is over.”

  25. 25
    September 19th, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    I will definitely be following up with more colder-weather fashions once we get closer to winter!

    Lalalina–I agree, a big investment is tricky to make when you can’t see the piece in person first and try it on! I know that H&M makes really great faux-leather jackets that are around $50 and cute. I have also heard that a lot of department stores sell moderately priced ones. Urban Outfitters sells them too, but they are a bit more expensive. Hopefully you’ll be able to find one in those places if you do not want to order one!

  26. 26
    September 20th, 2009 at 1:28 am

    Well I love the outfits , especially the first one but I need a warmer jacket for me but i like the whole look you put .

  27. 27
    September 22nd, 2009 at 9:24 am


    I loved all three outfits….I cant wait to see what else you have to offer….I go to school at Seton Hall so the weather and style can be pretty similar to the city…Thanks for the tips!

  28. 28
    September 23rd, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Colleen, I love all the outfits you put together! Especially those boots from piperlime and the entire “A Bit Colder” and “Cold!!” outfits. I can totally see myself wearing them. I can’t wait for fall, but since I’m on the other side of the country (LA, woowoo) it’s not going to be cold for a while, boo.

  29. 29
    November 27th, 2009 at 2:30 pm


    My name is Cylene, I´m Braziliam and I would like to Know what wear on New Year´s Eve. I´m going to Las Vegas to Celebrate New Year’s Eve with Black Eyed Peas at LAX Nightclub.
    In Brazil We usually wear white clothes. I atended to wear fashion jeans. What do you suggest me to wear? I love your choices. If possible, send me more outfit.
    Best regards,

  30. 30
    March 6th, 2010 at 11:01 pm


    if you wanted to wear tights and a dress but its too cold, And sometimes really black tights dont look good with the outfit, Wear a pair of really thick tan tights underneath the lighter black ones you cant tell that your wearing another pair of tights, but it keeps your really warm and you still get that opaque look :) Same thing for lace tights!!!

    I always do it!
    BTW i loved you outfits, and your site is soo helpful!
    thank heaps :):)

  31. 31
    June 4th, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Thanx for a fanatastic site – your outfits are simple yet gorgeous. I might be on the otherside of the world but dropping by and ‘adopting’ new fashionable ideas is as easy as pie – thanks to College Fashion.

    In time of need, a fashion guru is al ways well appreciated. XOX

  32. 32
    July 12th, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    one word- FABOLOUS!!!!

  33. 33
    July 15th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    lace tights are really, really cute, but really won’t keep you warm on a night that is say, -20 degress.

  34. 34
    October 2nd, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    i love these looks, but in new england it can be far too cold to wear only lace tights outside, even running from the car to the building. maybe you could suggest some ideas with jeans and coats instead of tights and light sweaters?

  35. 35
    November 10th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Maybe i’m too old for this but what happened to the long skirt. Love to see some updates. Fan of the mid lenght and knee high boot . Tights underneath help keep me warm without forcing me to wearing pants all the time in cold weather.

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