How To Layer Warm Clothes When It’s REALLY Cold!

Take it from someone who grew up in the northeast, lived in New York, and now lives in a Colorado mountain town at 9500 feet…I know cold! Which means I know how to dress for the cold. Sometimes getting dressed when it’s freezing outside can be hard. I have a formula on how to layer your clothes for extreme cold AND still look stylish! 

Have you subscribed to our weekly Busbee newsletter? We share amazing style resources, lookbooks, packing lists, and sale alerts too. You can sign up here.

How To Layer Warm Clothes in Winter

How To Layer Warm Clothes for Winter

#1 | Select Your Warm Base Layer

First things first, you need a warm, great base layer. I like to wear a fitted, lightweight long-sleeve crewneck tee. Your base layer needs to be something you can wear on its own. So if you go inside or it warms up throughout the day and you have to remove the other layers, this one is still something you feel comfortable wearing alone. If it’s extra cold outside, do not wear a normal tee. Opt instead for a wool blend, base layer tee like this one by Smartwool that’s a warm merino wool.

Next, you’ll add a lightweight knit sweater as your mid-layer. I prefer to wear a cashmere turtleneck or crew neck for this layer, which is what I’m wearing above. It keeps my neck warm and the cashmere is really soft and comfortable. I also love that cashmere is lightweight and thin so it doesn’t add a lot of bulk. We all think those thick bulky sweaters will be the ticket, but often we can’t layer them with anything so they are not that practical.

When it comes to base layers, I often get asked about undergarments for the bottom half as well. If I’m skiing or planning to be outside for an extended period of time, I’ll wear long underwear. But for every day, picking kids up, going to lunch, running errands, etc., I don’t think it’s necessary. If you do want to wear long underwear under your jeans or pants, Arc’teryx or Smartwool are great, super-warm options.

By the way, if you’re looking for more tips on how to stay warm while skiing, I share all my tips and tricks here.


How To Layer Warm Clothes in Winter Invest in a Puffer Coat

#2 | Invest in a Puffer Coat

The next layer is a puffer coat. (NOTE: If it’s REALLY cold, add a puffer vest under your puffer coat.) Make sure you have a puffer that’s long so it covers more of your body. I would say at least down to mid-thigh. This puffer coat is by Herno. It’s very luxe and SO warm. This brand is a Telluride-mom favorite. Most of the women here have a Herno puffer and love them as their go-to outer shell! It is a little pricey but worth the investment if you live somewhere with really cold weather. If you live in a cold and wet climate, consider getting a shell layer that’s water-resistant like this one so that it not only helps with wind resistance but also helps wick moisture so you are protected from the elements and stay warm and dry.

I also love this Ralph Lauren puffer or this SAM. puffer. I recently did a post on the best puffers here that includes classic, high-quality options and some affordable, trendy puffer jackets too!

Shop more Herno here.

camel wool Mackage coat

cold weather outfit

How To Layer Warm Clothes

#3 | Top it Off With a Wool Topcoat or Camel Coat

This next layer is for added warmth and style because sometimes you get bored of the black puffer. I LOVE to layer a wool wrap coat over my puffers so my outfit looks much more sophisticated and feminine. The camel coat I’m wearing is by Ralph Lauren and is super chic. When you’re looking for this outer layer, make sure you find one that’s thick enough to handle the harsh temps and roomy enough to fit over your other layers. Fabrics like wool, fleece, cashmere, and fur/faux fur will be best.

how to layer winter clothes to stay warm

How To Layer Warm Clothes leopard scarf black fur hat

Warm Winter Accessories

#4 | Add On Your Warm Winter Accessories

It’s not just about how you layer your clothes for winter…your accessories are just as important as the rest of the layers! A warm hat is very important…you lose 10% of your body heat from your head so make sure you have a hat that covers it up so you can regulate your body temperature more easily! You’ll also want a scarf. This can be a blanket scarf, infinity scarf, or whatever you prefer. Just make sure it’s warm! This one is cashmere and comes in a few colors! Finally, wear mittens or gloves! If you’re worried about having to take off your gloves to use your phone, get a pair like these that are tech-friendly. I love these gloves by Carolina Amato. They have a wool blend layer that makes them look really modern and can also be worn up your arms like sleeves.

Shop more hats here.
More scarves here.
More gloves here.

Do you have any tips on how to layer your clothes to stay warm during the winter? If you’re also a pro, please share your knowledge in the comments below so everyone can benefit!

If you have a friend who might like to read this blog post…especially if she lives in a freezing cold climate and wants tips to stay warm, we’d love for you to share this post with her using the buttons below. Thank you so much for your support!

Erin Busbee signature

Photos by: Aurelie Slegers

Join the Conversation

7 thoughts on “How To Layer Warm Clothes When It’s REALLY Cold!

  1. As someone who lives car free in Minneapolis, I look forward to Erin’s winter outerwear posts! Most fashion bloggers, even those in cold cities, suggest outfits that are barely warm enough to walk through a parking lot from heated SUV to store … not nearly enough for a 2 block walk to wait at the bus stop when it’s well below zero!

    Either that, or I would have to change clothing completely when I got to the office … like Erin says, base layer leggings are too much for a day inside. [I do wool tights, plus ugly zip off overpants if it’s so cold I don’t care about style.]

    1. We make sure to only share the really helpful tips – especially for the frigid temps that so many face in the winter months! Thanks for reading, Liz! ~Team Busbee

  2. I enjoy “you” & your channel very much. Do you consider what colors are the most flattering for a person when styling? I was color coded a Winter Color season & has been a huge help for me.

Explore More

Posts You'll Love

14 Chic & Cozy Sweaters Under $200 That Are Perfect for Fall

Sharing fourteen affordable fall sweaters that are all under $200...including everything from date night sweaters…
Read Post

What Shoes or Boots To Wear with Your Jeans – A COMPLETE Guide!

Answering one of your biggest questions...what shoes to wear with different jean styles!
Read Post
For Less Friday

This 2 Piece Affordable Loungewear Set is So Chic, Cozy & Comfortable…You’ll Want To Live In It!

This loungewear set is super chic and crazy comfortable...AND it's affordable!
Read Post

Edgy, Chic, AND Sexy! 15 Of The Best Tops To Wear With Leather Leggings

Sharing 15 of the best tops to wear with leather leggings for edgy, chic AND…
Read Post