What to Wear When It's Really Cold: 4 Outfits for Below-Freezing Temperatures

Callan - Whitman College
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Girl in scarf and hat

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It's always hard to stay fashionable in extreme weather, especially when most of the country has been experiencing colder-than-average temperatures because of the so-called "polar vortex." Whether you're used to subzero temps or get caught off guard by anything below freezing, it never hurts to have a little outfit inspiration for those extra cold days, so we've put together four cold-weather looks to help you out.

Before we get to the outfits, though, here are some tips for dressing warmly when it's super-cold outside:

Tips for Staying Warm

  • As you probably know, layering is essential for staying warm. For example, on top, it's easy to pile on a cami or tank, a tee, a long-sleeved sweater or shirt, and a coat. On the bottom, layer thick tights or leggings (you can even double up!) under your pants or jeans.
  • Always keep your hands and feet covered. This means wearing insulated shoes or boots, or putting on multiple pairs of socks (wool is best). And don't forget warm gloves or mittens!
  • Go for lots of wintry accessories. Scarves, hats, knit headbands, earmuffs - whatever you prefer.
  • When shopping for winter clothes, look forwarmer fabrics like wool, fleece, cashmere, flannel, and down.
  • Lastly, remember that safety is always more important than fashion. While it is possible to be chic and warm, very low temperatures can be a health hazard, so it's better to sacrifice your fashion sense temporarily than risk a trip to the hospital.

Outfit #1

Cold weather plaid shirt cardigan

Product Info: Boots - DSW, Shirt - American Eagle, Headband - ASOS, Tights - H&M, Coat - Mango, Cardigan - New Look, Jeans - H&M, Scarf - Nordstrom, Gloves - Sierra Trading Post

This first look makes use of some classic college girl staples. Start with a pair of fleece tights and a cozy flannel shirt (you could even put a tee underneath), then layer on your favorite jeans and cardigan. Go for a trendy oversized wool coat and a pair of practical winter boots to keep out the cold. Lastly, accessorize with an infinity scarf, warm gloves, and a knit headband.

Outfit #2

Cold weather turtleneck quilted jacket

Product Info: Hat - Patagonia, Coat - Wallis, Top - Lord & Taylor, Socks - Sierra Trading Post, Tights - Zappos, Gloves - River Island, Boots - H&M, Pants - Mango

For this next casual look, we're starting with a striped turtleneck (turtleneck sweaters are on trend right now, so don't be afraid to rock one!). For extra warmth, you could also layer a tee or tank underneath. On the bottom, layer a pair of warm tights under some khaki skinnies. A quilted, belted coat is a warm and stylish choice, especially paired with some fur-lined booties (just make sure they have some tread on the bottom if it's snowy or icy outside!). Wool socks, knit gloves, and a cozy hat will polish things off and keep you extra toasty.

Outfit #3

Cold weather moto jacket dress

Product Info: Scarf - Vero Moda, Dress - H&M, Hat - Dorothy Perkins, Socks - Barney's, Coat - American Eagle, Boots - Target, Leggings - John Lewis, Tee - JCPenney

If you're more of a dress-and-skirt girl, here's a cold-weather look for you. You'll want to keep your legs covered, so try doubling up on leggings or tights. Layer a thermal tee under your dress for extra warmth. On your feet, go for some fun wool socks and a pair of sleek snow boots. For your outer layer, a long wool moto jacket with leather sleeves is a stylish choice. Then polish off the ensemble with a pretty scarf and printed hat.

Outfit #4

Cold weather parka penguin sweater

Product Info: Hat - Amazon, Sweater - Dorothy Perkins, Boots - Maurice's, Socks - Patagonia, Coat - New Look, Jeans - Victoria's Secret, Shirt - H&M, Tights - Topshop

This last look is a little more eclectic. Just like before, layer a pair of warm tights under some cozy straight-leg jeans. On top, try a collared blouse under a fun (and very appropriate) penguin sweater. If you don't have winter boots, try some thick-knit wool socks under your favorite everyday boots. And lastly, go for a cool-girl vibe with a military-style parka and a slouchy gray beanie.


Are you experiencing colder-than-average temps right now? Which outfit is your favorite? Do you have any tips for dressing warmly? Let us know in the comments!