How to Stay Warm on Campus: Layer Like a Pro with our Top Tips

Your ultimate guide to beating the cold, in style.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you purchase through our links. Please read our full disclosure here.

This post will show you how to stay warm on campus during the winter.

How to Stay Warm on Campus with Layering Tips

Winter is in full swing, and for many of us, that means that dressing for warmth is a top priority right now.

As fashion girlies, this may present a challenge, since bundling up can make it tricky to show off your sense of style. Layering for the cold is a must, but how can you do so without looking… well, lumpy?

We’ve got the answers! This guide will teach you how to layer like a pro so that you can stay warm on campus — in style.

With these practical tips and must-have winter layering pieces, you’ll learn to expertly layer your clothing without sacrificing your style (or looking lumpy).

Practical Tips for Staying Warm

  • Opt for higher necklines and longer lengths. It should come as no surprise that a turtleneck is going to keep you warmer than a V-neck or that long pants are going to keep you warmer than a mini skirt, so dress accordingly.
  • Consider fabric contents. While fabrics like linen or silk are fabulous for the spring and summer, in the wintertime, not so much. Go for knitwear (including wool, which doesn’t pull heat away from your body, helping you to retain heat), fleece, shearling, corduroy, and heavyweight cotton during the winter instead.
  • Don’t forget the winter accessories. These will play a major role in helping you stay warm while outdoors but also add fashionable flair to your winter outfits. For the cutest and most practical winter accessories of the season, check out our guide here.
  • Consider investing in warming gadgets like hand warmers or a heated jacket to beat extreme cold.
  • Tights are your friends. Make dresses, shorts, and skirts fall and winter-appropriate by pairing them with a trusty pair of tights. Tights also can transform strappy stilettos or peep-toed pumps into chic winter shoes.
  • Take it up a notch with leggings. Intense cold calls for thicker layers, which is why you may want to swap out your tights for leggings if it’s freezing outside. Leggings still have a slim fit, so you’ll be able to wear them under skirts, dresses, and even certain pants.
  • Layer, layer, layer! Layers are the ultimate key to not only staying warm, but also comfortable when you’re going from the freezing outdoors into a heated classroom, for example. More on layering below!

The Art of Layering

As I mentioned before, layering is the ultimate hack to staying warm and comfortable during the wintertime.

It is especially crucial if you’ll be going from outdoors to indoors (and vice versa), e.g., walking across campus in the snow to sit in a heated classroom and then back outside into the cold again.

Base layers are the perfect place to start; these are items you wear under your main clothing pieces to help you retain heat. Think long-sleeve tops, leggings, and other body-hugging items that will provide added insulation without being detectable on the outside.

Because these pieces are slim-fitting, you don’t have to worry about looking lumpy, especially if the clothing you wear over top is a bit roomier.

After the base layers come your middle layers, which essentially consist of your main outfit, like a shirt and jeans or a sweater and a skirt, for example.

Lastly, your outer layer is your outerwear, be it a puffer jacket or a long coat. To combat the cold, you’ll want all three layers plus the right cold-weather accessories to stay as warm as possible.

Key Pieces for Winter Outfits

Now that we’ve covered the basics of layering and its importance during the wintertime, let’s talk about the key clothing, accessories, and shoes to invest in for a functional winter wardrobe.

These items are going to help you layer like a pro and stay warm throughout the cold season.

Thermal Base Layers

Amazon Thermal Top
Buy from

Thermal base layers are my #1 recommendation for beating the cold.

These refer to long-sleeve tops, long johns, and leggings that are thin enough to be worn under your other clothing items and made with heat-retaining fabric.

This soft, stretchy, thermal top is a great pick since it’s perfect for layering under a sweater or sweatshirt in the wintertime for added warmth, but it’s also moisture-wicking so that you’ll stay dry throughout your day.

Just remember, opt for a size that is going to give you a slim fit (rather than a loose fit) in order to best retain your body heat.

Warm-Lined Leggings

Who doesn’t love black leggings?! Basic black leggings are obviously a wardrobe staple, especially for college girls.

But in the wintertime, thin cotton leggings aren’t going to cut it. Swap those out for some warm-lined leggings, like this fleece-lined pair, instead.

These leggings feature a full fleece-lined interior, which is going to help keep you warm, yet they still look sleek, making them totally layer-able!

On extremely cold days, wear these under looser pants like jeans, cargo pants, and sweatpants for an added layer of warmth. They will hardly be detectable, so you won’t have to worry about looking lumpy!


My secret weapon during the winter? Camisoles.

These are a base layer that is often overlooked, probably because they look like tank tops, so you’d assume that they are only for the summertime. But that isn’t the case!

All winter long, I wear camisoles under my tops and sweaters and have found that they are an incredible way to retain heat without adding bulk to my outfits. The key is to wear a camisole with a body-hugging fit, as this is what will help your body stay warm. (If it’s loose, it gives cold air a chance to get underneath and chill your skin).

Neutral-colored camisoles are going to be your best bet for having them appear undetectable under your clothing, but it depends on what you’ll be wearing over top. On very cold days, I will layer a camisole under a long-sleeve base layer top under a sweater or sweatshirt for maximum warmth, and it works like a charm.

Best of all, camisoles tend to be extremely affordable — these are under $5 each!

Thermal Socks

Amazon Thermal Socks Set
Buy from

Yes, you’re probably already wearing socks during the wintertime… but are you wearing thermal socks?

Heavier socks made with fabrics like wool are going to keep your feet way warmer in the cold, even if you’re already wearing winter boots.

Though these socks are thick and cozy, they are also breathable, which is a must!

Warm Tights

If you want to wear a skirt or a dress during the wintertime, tights are going to be a game-changer. Not just any tights, though; thermal tights.

These tights have an internal brushed lining to keep you extra warm.

They come in a bunch of colors, including classic black, but I love this red hue, which is very on-trend this season.


Warm Lined Bodysuit
Buy from

When you think of bodysuits, you probably think of the cute kind you wear on a Saturday night out.

But have you considered wearing a bodysuit layered under your clothing for added warmth?

This fleece-lined bodysuit is going to help you retain heat while also looking sleek, whether you wear it on its own or layered under heavier pieces like a knit sweater.


Sometimes, on the coldest days, even heavy winter coats alone don’t cut it. So, on super chilly days, try layering a slim-fitting vest under your coat for added heat retention.

A vest that does not have a bulky construction, like this cropped sherpa vest, should fit under your coat just fine and will help you retain body heat.

This one also has a mock neck design, so if you forget a scarf, you’ll still be covered.

Winter Boots

Take on the cold, snow, sleet, rain, and slush with ease in some waterproof winter boots.

With their seam-sealed construction, these boots will keep wet elements out for a dry, warm interior, along with their cute, cozy faux fur lining. They are ideal for walking around campus all winter long.

Winter Outfit Inspiration

Now it’s time to put all the layers we’ve been talking about together — into some stylish, non-lumpy, layered looks.

Check out these winter outfit ideas featuring multiple layers… minus any bulk.

Layering Without Looking Lumpy

Baggy jeans are a big denim trend this season, but their roomy fit can let cold air circulate through your legs. By layering some leggings or thermal tights underneath the jeans though, you’ll be able to retain your body heat, and no one will be the wiser!

The same goes on top: layer a thermal base layer underneath your sweater, like this black turtleneck. Though it’s lined with fleece, it has a sleek, body-hugging design with a lightweight feel that will fit under a sweater.

Go for a contrasting look by opting for a light-colored sweater, such as this waffle-knit quarter-zip pullover sweater, worn under a shearling-lined jacket.

Don’t forget crucial cold weather accessories like a knit beanie hat (this cuffed one is made with a warm wool and cashmere blend), some thick wool socks, and durable winter boots, like this faux shearling pair.

This layered look is ideal for a chilly winter day — if it’s extra cold, opt for an even heavier coat, like a puffer jacket.

Cold Weather Cute

Want to dress it up a bit? We’re ready for the challenge!

While it can seem easier to layer with casual clothing, the same can be done with dressier pieces, too.

Pleated mini skirts and skorts are another major fashion trend this season, and you can make this trend winter-appropriate by wearing your skorts with some thermal tights and a thermal bodysuit.

On top of the fleece-lined bodysuit base layer, wear a knit cardigan sweater for added warmth (plus, you can easily take the cardi off if you get too warm while indoors).

If you don’t have to worry about snow or other extreme weather, try a cute pair of chunky loafers with shearling lining that will keep your feet nice and toasty.

By layering some knit leg warmers over your tights, you’ll be that much warmer (but your feet won’t feel too bulky in the fuzzy loafers).

Complete the ensemble with the outerwear of your choice, like a sherpa aviator jacket or a long structured coat, plus winter accessories, including a hat, scarf, and gloves.

What do you think of our guide to staying warm on campus?

Did you find these tips helpful? How do you like to keep warm during the wintertime? Leave a comment and let us know!

Leave a Comment