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


Girl in scarf and hat
Photo Credit

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 for warmer 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!

Posted on on January 19, 2014 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , ,

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13 Responses to “What to Wear When It’s Really Cold: 4 Outfits for Below-Freezing Temperatures”

  1. 1
    January 19th, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I love these tips! It doesn’t get that cold out here in Arizona, but I’ll save these tips when I’ll go somewhere frigid. :)

  2. 2
    January 19th, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    YES for this post. All are super practical when it’s below freezing but still cute. Pretty sure I’ve worn a variation of 1, 2 and 4. Another layer I recommend is slim yoga pants — mine are from ON and a bit thicker than their leggings.

  3. 3
    January 19th, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Now, THIS is more like it! I live in the Canadian prairies, where below -25 C temperatures are the norm for 5 months of the year, plus frequent cold snaps that plunge to -40 C with the windchill. Thanks for taking the suggestion I emailed to heart and providing us Northern gals with some chic options! Now I don’t feel so bad about my typical day-to-day style, because it’s not that far off from these examples!

  4. 4
    January 19th, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Great post! My favorite way to keep my legs warm is knee-high socks. I looooove knee-high socks under my pants! I find if I wear tights or leggings under my pants I get too warm inside (and no one wants to be sitting in class sweating)!

  5. 5
    January 19th, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Did anyone else see the striped turtleneck sweater and think “The best time to wear a striped sweater… is all the time?” :)

  6. 6
    January 19th, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    These are awesome suggestions and really cute clothes! I’ve had to deal with below zero weather these past few weeks and would just add:

    -I know they are probably not pictured for simplicity’s sake, but as my mom says, you ALWAYS have room for an extra shirt. I’ve found that 3-4 warm layers are better than one shirt with a thick jacket. My favorite combo is thin long sleeve tee + flannel button up + cardigan.

    – You’ll be warmest if your chest, head, and hands are properly covered. This is great because you can bundle up these areas with scarves, hats, mittens, and gloves that you can take off as soon as you get warmed up indoors.
    (I *always* underestimate how much warmer my whole body is when I wear a shirt that covers my whole chest (like the turtleneck) or a scarf.

    – When in doubt, double-sock it! Especially because my boots are not very insulated, I like to layer my usual ankle socks under really thick Boot Socks (I got great wool ones at walmart). If you get too warm during the day, you can always strip off the thicker pair.

    -If you prefer leggings to jeans, check out Winter Leggings- they’re extra thick and really soft! When I wear leggings I usually add leg warmers under my boots.

    However, as I learned with the winter storms in my hometown this break, NO clothing will adequately protect you from a fierce windchill! In that sort of weather, stay home and stay cozy, as any unprotected skin is at risk of frostbite.

  7. 7
    January 20th, 2014 at 2:10 am

    Finally, suggestions that would actually be useful for Alberta weather!

  8. 8
    January 20th, 2014 at 10:29 am

    I actually asked you guys to post this via Ask CF but thanks anyways! These are actually regular cold weather clothes, the other posts about cold weather included things like leather jackets and very thin coats so they’re more for warmer months as march or april. Avery’s suggestions are great, you can always layer more and more on top – if not, thermal suits that layer underneath are a great option (but a bit more pricey).
    I must say that the most important comment in this post is to choose fabric wisely. don’t go with acrylic, polyester, viscose or nylon. choose natural fabrics such as wool, cotton, cashmere. wool sweaters will keep you extra warm when it’s really chilly outside.

  9. 9
    January 23rd, 2014 at 5:14 am

    Cute outfits! I agree with what Marian said… I am currently living in Finland, and it’s often REALLY cold here (today it’s -8*F), and honestly, adding thermal base layers is essential. Normal tights will not do much to keep you warm– try thick bamboo or wool tights instead. (Though if you don’t have anything else, it will help a bit) I have a pair of fleece-lined tights that are fabulous! Wool or silk long underwear is also great, and investing in the kind that will wick away sweat is useful if you’re going to be outside doing any physical activity (skiing, walking, etc.). Hats that are lined with fleece are extra-toasty, especially if they have ear flaps :)

    Of course if it’s really, really cold, windy, or snowing/raining, you could always wear a pair of ski pants or waterproof athletic pants over your skinny jeans until you get wherever you’re going! Not the most fashionable look, but it will certainly keep you warm if you have to go outside and it’s below freezing :)

  10. 10
    January 23rd, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    you can always double up on tights :P or triple! great post!

  11. 11
    January 24th, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Thank you so much for this post! I haven’t seen above zero in 3 days so I definitely need some inspiration for cute outfits before I resort to walking around in a snow suit all the time!

  12. 12
    February 3rd, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Nice post, but I just don’t think that these are warm enough for where I live

  13. 13
    January 25th, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Omg this totally helps me thx

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