Winter is the season the temperatures go down and the coats come out of a closet. And while it gives more room to be chic and stylish, it is also a lot easier to completely mess up your look trying to combine all the layers you need go out there in the cold.
What colors to combine? What textures go well together? Are turtle necks still a thing? Keep scrolling to find out. We compiled a whole bunch of information about winter fashion and style.
The trends might change every year, but the basics most likely stay the same: we’ll still need thick layers and warm shoes and hardly ever your bright neon skirt will ever go well with your animal patterned furry coat.
1. Winter Colors
Colors play an important psychological effect on people’s mood and even behavior – they help project who we are – or the image of who we want to be – to the outside world. They can give us a sense of warmth and comfort or coolness and rigidity.
And for that reason, colors also have an important role in fashion and how fashion is developed every season.
Winter, for example, calls for warmer colors. Winter colors have to give the sensation of warmth and coziness to fight the cold weather. Maroon, burgundy, shades of deep red, purple, green, brown, caramels and dusky pinks are all colors that work well in cold season. Black is also an ever-present color in the winter, as it gives a feeling of protection and enclosure. And although white is the color of freezing snow, it is also a symbol of purity and therefore a welcome color in a weather you need to feel protected and safe.
Following are some common emotions associated with colors (read more in a book called “Elements of Fashion and Apparel Design” by G. J. Sumathi. 2007, ISBN 8122413714, 9788122413717) :
- Red: passionate and attractive. It draws attention and is said to speed the metabolism. Perfect for winter as it is associated with fire. Its darker and mixed shades, like burgundy and maroon remind of wine, which is a perfect drink for winter days (and nights!).
- Yellow: lively and cheerful. It is a color better suited for spring once it is associated with sunshine and flowers. It might be quite a tiring color if worn in winter. However, caramel shades of yellow give away the feeling of warm and sweetness desired in cold days.
- Green: peaceful and pastoral. Light green is commonly associated with good health and more suited for spring and summer. Dark shades of green, however, add sophistication to winter looks.
- Blue: the color of the sky and the oceans, blue is easily associated with infinity which evokes a feeling of freedom. While light blue is a good sporty color for summer, dark and deep blue and royal blue allude to wealth and class.
- Purple: sophisticated and mystic, purple has long been associated with both royalty and wizardry – therefore, a color for the brave. And we do need the courage to go out there in the cold!
- Brown: prosperous and fertile. Brown reminds of the autumn leaves and rich soil and because of this association with renewal, it can be quite romantic for a winter date. And let’s not forget it’s the color of chocolate… hot chocolate, the epitome of coziness!
- Black: the color of night and elegance. Historically, black has been associated with death and evil, but, as society evolved, it became a color that is always chic. Because it looks heavy and protective, it’s a good choice for winter.
- White: safe and simple. As we mentioned before, although white can refer to the cold snow, as it is also associated with innocence and purity, it is a perfect color to give you a feeling of peace – calming down the cold stormy days.
The palette below shows the common colors explored for the winter season.
Although colors are one of the most important elements in fashion, they cannot work miracles alone. Textiles are the ones that will be carrying the colors and their materials and textures can either save or destroy a garment.
2. Textures And Textiles Suitable For Winter
Winter season calls for trickier and heavier fabrics: wool, velvet, thick cotton, tweed, flannel, leather… The real trick is how to combine all of them. But we’re here to help!
Easily associated with the jackets of old war pilots, we can pull out chic and cozy styles with this plushy texture.
Faux shearling is softer than many other artificial furs. More commonly used as linings, they go well with suede and leather outsides. Soft, warm and thick, it’s an easy choice against windy days.
2) Fuzzy Knits
Simply looking at them might make you go all itchy in the summer, but when the winter comes, fuzzy knits are the closest you have for going out wrapped in your blanket.
Although you can wear them tight, their fluffy construction looks better as baggy sweaters. While they are not enough to stop the wind, put them on under any wind breaker jacket and you’ll be warm anywhere.
Wool is probably the first material that comes to everyone’s mind when the topic is winter fashion. Although not every winter season it’s going to be the main character, wool is simply… necessary for cold days.
Nowadays, it’s very common to see 100% acrylic wool everywhere, but remember acrylic does not let your skin breath, so if you buy a beautiful acrylic wool pullover it will make you sweat instead of warm you.
Thus, invest in a real wool piece and not only it will last forever, you’ll be wanting to wear it all the time.
It’s been long since velvet was only a choice for fancy night dresses… or tacky grandpa jackets. Velvet can be made from many different fibers, the most expensive being silk.
The most traditional ones found in the markets today are a mix of silk and rayon (a regenerated cellulose fiber). Now brands apply velvet to virtually everything, from dresses to trousers, tops, shoes, bags…
No, not your loose cotton tank top. That will only freeze you to death. But being a natural fiber, cotton can be amazing for winter if woven into a thick fabric.
As it is not shinny, furry or woolly, it is more often seen in sportswear. But there are many ways you can wear a sweatshirt or hoodie and still pull out a stylish look. For those who love fun and comfort above all!
Tweed! For centuries considered a men’s fabric, fashion took hold of it and now women can enjoy this amazing textile, too.
Created in Scotland, tweed was originally a hand-woven fabric. Thick, rough and felted, tweed was used to produce clothes for the working men. However, with the acquisition of many Scottish states by the English, the fabric soon became a popular item in England – first by the nobleman and later by the working class who adopted it for their leisure garments.
Tweed comes in a vast variety: some are named after the breed of sheep the wool comes from, some after the region where they are produced, some are part of traditional brand names, some are named after their function… Visit the Gentleman’s Gazette if you want to know more about Tweed history and types.
Nevertheless, what is important is that today, tweed is used for both men’s and women’s clothes and can make a sartorial statement between classic and contemporary.
Originally made from carded wool, flannel is a soft woven fabric.
Nowadays, it can also be made of cotton, vegetable fibers (like pine or bamboo) or synthetic fibers. Flannel fabrics often have a nap – raised fuzzy surface – on one or both of their sides.
But I bet when you hear the word flannel you think of flannel shirts – the plaid ones – straight away, right? It is true that is one of flannel’s most common use in fashion, but the fabric can be used for other pieces, too, such as coats and trousers (and baby clothes and towels, if we want to be compiling).
8) Fur (real and faux)
Fur has been worn by humans since pre-history for both protection and ostentation.
Now, the discussion about whether or not using real fur is bad is sort of endless. And while the decision should be made based on your own beliefs and values, I’m going to talk about faux fur only.
With the advent of synthetic fibers, making faux fur became possible. Back in the 90s, faux fur had the reputation of looking cheap and feeling awful (Itchy!), but every year that passes we have more and more tech fibers being created and the faux fur we see on the catwalks nowadays can really pass as real to those who are not professionals on the field . You can read more about high tech faux fur if you’re interested.
Cashmere is a fiber obtained mainly from Cashmere goats. Lighter and softer than traditional sheep’s wool, cashmere is finer in texture while still remaining strong – it is a perfect insulator.
Cashmere has been produced in Nepal, Mongolia and Kashmiri (Cof, cof… where does the name come from again?) for thousands of years. In the 18th century, cashmere shawls imported to Europe from Kashmiri and India were highly trendy among upper class, wealthy women.
Today, however, China has become the largest producer, with a production of about 10,000 metric tons per year! An even finer version of cashmere wool is pashmina – the name comes from Persian, meaning “made from wool” and translates to “soft gold” in Kashmiri. Pashmina is more often used for scarves and light cardigans.
Keep it away from water! Or mud… Or any wet thing, for that matter. That is, by far, the best rule to keep your suede items in nice shape and looking good.
Suede is a type of leather made of the inner layer of natural hide of animals like cow and pig – although goatskin and sheepskin are also commonly used. The outer layer is basically the regular leather we all know, while suede is the inside split.
The name dates back to 1860 when, in France, people would refer a type of very soft gloves coming from Sweden as “grants de Suède”, meaning “gloves from Sweden”. As time passed, suede became the common name for any kind of soft and smooth leather with nap finish.
Just as full-grain leather, it can be a perfect layer for winter as it keeps you warm and blocks the cold from reaching your skin and bones. And although depending on the cuts and color you can pull out almost any decade with a suede item, it’s also perfect – or we could say “a must” – if what you want is a cowgirl look: fringed suede screams Far West!
As suede does not have the tough outer layer of the animal skin, its pores and soft nap are more susceptible to absorbing water. The best way to keep it clean is to brush it with a soft sponge or brush… which is easily said than done when we’re talking about, for example, a coat – a piece that will need to be cleaned inside once in a while, too. In that case, the best you can do is sent your precious item to the dry cleaners; they have better tools than our simple multipurpose house washing machines.
Leather is an all-time favorite. Almost everyone will have at least one leather (or faux leather) jacket in their wardrobe. Leather is created by tanning animal hide – a chemical process to treat hide in order to stop it from decomposing.
Due to advances in technology, different finishing processes allow leather to have a variety of surfaces. Cow hide can be made to look like snake or crocodile skin, for example. And if you take good care of your leather goods they can last a long, long time – they might actually last longer than you will .
We’d suggest reading the book by K. Marion, R. Thomson called Conservation of Leather and Related Materials (Routledge, 2006. ISNB: 0750648813, 9780750648813) if you want to know more about conservation of leather.
However, be careful not to be deceived: PU synthetic can look and feel a lot like real leather, but won’t last as long or keep you as warm. On the other hand, if winter is not that nasty where you live and you don’t want to spend a big amount of money on an item that might go out fashion too soon, PU items might be a good choice – they will stay with you for around 5 years and by that time you won’t even remember you have them.
Here are some tips on how to wear and care for both real and faux leather.
3. Winter Outfits: Stylish Garments For Cold Weather
Now that we have talked about colors and materials commonly used in the winter, we can actually start talking about styles. And there are so many! You can, let’s say, go out in “coat & trousers” for the whole week without repeating a single style.
And for that reason, we compiled a guide to help you understand and combine the pieces in your wardrobe – or better: to shop smarter! We’re sure you’ll find plenty of winter outfit ideas and fashion tips. Although for now we will talk about each item individually, pay attention how they are being combined with the rest of the look.
And in the end, we’ll have a section for winter trends full of examples of how to be stunning every day of this cold season.
12) Coats and Jackets
The standard, simple definition, says coats are long sleeved tops that extend below the hips, while jackets are basically their shorter versions.
But that says nothing about all the styles fashion loves to play around with. So, let’s get down to business and put these “long and short tops” into categories. And keep in mind fashion does not follow rules, so for most of the styles, there are many related variations.
Coats and jackets traditionally are considered a centerpiece wardrobe when the weather gets colder: no wonder there are so many cute outfit ideas for winter with coats.
Also known as parka, an anorak is a hooded coat with fur (or faux fur) inside, it is waterproof, generally have drawstrings at the waist and either drawstrings or velcro – or any other sealing, for that matter – at the cuffs to stop cold wind from reaching you.
Anorak coats are perfect for super cold days, especially rainy or snowy ones and most of them will also have high collars. They are also a good option if you don’t want to peel like an onion whenever you go inside a heated place. Going to the office where the whole place is warm? Put on your anorak over a light top and you’ll be perfectly dressed for both things.
Nowadays, it is common to find “3-in-1” anoraks. They come with the anorak/parka itself, a detachable hood and a detachable lining jacket that can be worn on its own. You can watch this video to understand it better:
The cocoon coat was very popular in the 60s. With its oval shape and dropped shoulders, it was the perfect piece for a tomboyish look.
Cocoon coats are loose-fitting with voluminous sleeves and go just slightly over the knees. For that reason, they are the perfect finish with you want to pile layers of tops underneath it (or that super saggy grandma sweater you love).
However, they look best with sleek and neat lines, so if you are being sloppy on top, go slim on the bottom: wear a pair of tight jeans or leggings. If paired well, its simple minimalistic lines can create an elegant and chic look.
Trench coats were initially part of the British army uniform. Back then, it was a long, water proof coat, going a long way under the knees.
Traditionally, it is a double-breasted coat with a belt on the waist height and wide lapels. Around the wrists it also has straps looking like small buckled belts – they served to tighten the cuffs and stop water from going down the arms when soldiers had to use binocular in the rain.
It is a key item for any woman to have in her wardrobe as it gives a tailored look to an outfit in just a single step. If you want to go super classic, Burberry should be your choice. Along with their trademark plaid print (often used for their coat linings), trench coats are also iconic for the brand. In 1879, Thomas Burberry invented a cotton gabardine so tightly woven it was water and wind proof – becoming the main fabric for their trench coats.
The pea coat can be considered a cousin of the trench coat. Although its origins are not as well defined as the trench coat, it is safe to say it was popularized by the British navy as part of its uniform.
Traditionally double-breasted and made of wool, the pea coat is not a very long coat – it ends around the hips, where it flares a bit; a feature designed to be practical for the main task of its users: climbing ropes on the ships. Pea coats are easy to combine with most other pieces of an outfit. They go well with jeans, skirts and even shorts over tights.
Duffle coats give off such a cozy feeling. The main feature of this type of coat is the toggles with leather or rope loops used to fasten it.
Made of duffle, a thick, coarse woolen material, the name of the coat comes from the Belgium province called Duffle, where the material originated. Aside from the characteristic fastening system, a duffle coat also features a big hood (that could be worn over caps) and two large patch pockets on both sides. Both the pockets and the toggles were made to be easily used with gloves on.
And just like the trench coat and the pea coat, it also has its origins attached to the military, but this time it was the Polish army that made the duffle coat popular. Being a long coat it goes well with practically everything, however it does not have the tailored appeal the other two military coats have.
A blazer is a type of jacket that resembles a suit top; however, it is more casual and does not have to be a part of any set (although it can). They can be made of a variety of different materials and have differences in cuts, too.
So basically, there isn’t a strict rule to say if a jacket is a blazer or not. Blazers are an easy way to pull out a smart look and work perfectly for office days, important meetings or simply to look kick-ass when combined with heels and a don’t-mess-with-me face.
Also known as flight jacket, it was created for military pilots. As most airplanes’ cockpits were not enclosed back at the time of WWI, pilots needed something to keep them warm, so heavy-duty jackets with snug cuffs and waists and wraparound collars started being distributed by the US army to their pilots.
Eventually, fashion turned it into a popular cool item and also adapted the jacket for the female public. Bomber jackets are perfect to build a bold, urban look and go well with trousers and even skirts.
Also known as motorcycle jacket; or simply leather jacket, as that is what they are made of. It is most likely the fashion item that better describes the idea of “cool”.
The first biker jacket was created in 1928 by Irving Schott, from the outwear company Schott Bros, and was based on the bomber jacket – which was also initially made of leather. Schott designed a jacket with snug cropped fit and an asymmetric zipper positioning – allowing bikers to lean over their motorcycles more comfortably. He named his design Perfecto, after his favorite cigarette brand, and even nowadays when a jacket has the same zipper positioning it’s called a “perfecto” cut.
From its origins as a jacket worn also by gangsters and its iconic association with the punk scene back in the 70s, the biker jacket has always represented an urban rebel look .
By “top” we mean any piece of clothing composing the top part of your outfit, but that is not a coat or jacket. That includes sweaters, jumpers, cardigans…
We’ve already talked a bit about sweaters here when mentioning fuzzy knits, wool and cashmere. Put in a simple way, sweaters are long sleeved t-shirts made of a thicker material.
They can be made in a variety of styles: baggy, knitted, turtle-neck, slim fit. Or sometimes, a mix of it all. As they are such an essential piece for winter, sweaters hardly ever become “out”, they just change in accordance to the trends. So they might be “in” in pastel color one winter and with crazy animal prints in the other.
Cardigans are very similar to sweaters; however, they have the front open, being closed with buttons. They are a very good option for autumn days but can also be worn underneath coats in winter.
Cardigans hardly ever go out of fashion either. Even when they are not the hottest item of the season, they are so useful you will always find cardigans in stores.
Hoodies & Sweatshirts
Hoodies and sweatshirts are very similar, the only relevant difference is that, as the name says, hoodies have hoods.
Made mostly of thick cotton, they are the perfect option for a casual look. They are comfy and warm and when combined with, for example, a biker jacket and a pair of tight jeans, can bring out a cool urban style. They can either have no front opening or a zipper opening on the front.
Ponchos & Shawls
Ponchos are like shawls but they fall over your shoulders without you having to hold them. Both are stylish options for cold days as they are big and spacious and go over basically anything you might be wearing underneath.
Capes are similar to ponchos as they also fall loosely over your shoulders; however, capes either have holes for the arms or actual sleeves attached to them. They allow for many different styles and might or might not have hoods.
Trousers and skirts are great options for winter. While shorts are also widely worn with either leggings or tights underneath, they are still more of a summer item incorporated into winter fashion.
“Old but gold” is probably one of the best expressions to describe jeans trousers.
Jeans are made of denim and were first created as garments for miners – as they needed sturdy clothes for their work. They became popular in the 50s, especially among teenagers and nowadays are a piece that almost everyone will have in their wardrobe.
As we mentioned in the section about materials, leather is a good option for cold days. It is largely used for jackets but also makes its appearance in trousers designs.
Leather trousers are always a statement, even if they are simple plain black tight ones. It requires some personality to wear leather trousers, so it adds boldness to any style.
Leggings are a common item in women’s wardrobes. But in the winter, thin cotton leggings are not the best candidates to keep anyone’s legs warm.
And that is when wool leggings come into scene. It is very common for wool leggings to have colorful patterns, but if you prefer a monochromatic piece, they exist too.
Wool skirts go well with thick tights and boots. They keep you warm and allow for a feminine look. They also match better with the rest of your outfit as they look “wintery”.
Long skirts work for winter simply for being long. But of course, the material used to make them matters, too. The thicker they are, the warmer you will be kept.
Long skirts can be tight or flared, allowing for a range of different styles. Just like long dresses, long skirts can’t pass unnoticed.
Nobody can deny the warm power of boots. You might wear them to compose spring looks, but you know your feet are hot inside them. And hot is what you want for winter.
Boots can be made of leather, suede, or synthetic materials. There are even styles made especially for super cold places with faux fur and built-in socks.
Initially designed to be worn by soldiers, combat boots soon became popular due to their durability. They are a versatile item that can be used to compose tough looks or very feminine ones.
Chelsea boots are ankle-high boots with characteristic side elastic panels. The style seems to have been created by J. Sparkes-Hall, Queen Victoria’s shoemaker. They became an iconic element of British fashion in the 60s, being widely worn especially by the subculture called “mod”.
They can be used to compose many different styles, always giving a chic and classy feeling to outfits.
Ugg boots are a type of shoe made of sheepskin and originated in Australia and New Zeland. They are made of sheep fur on the inside, have a suede surface on the outside and rubber or EVA soles.
They became very popular among surfers during the 60s and 70s – it’s believed the term “ugg” originated from “ugly”, as the boots were actually considered bad looking.
In search of the best waves, Aussie surfers traveled the world and made Ugg boots popular, especially in California, where the footwear company Decker Brands created the UGG Australia division, becoming famous for producing mainly Ugg boots. Although considered ugly for so long – and still for so many – Ugg boots became popular among women in the late 90s and mid-2000s, in special among teenage and early-20 girls.
Ugg boots are best for very cold days and to build looks with an “I don’t care” feeling (as in “I’m warm and comfy, so I don’t care about my style”).
Cowboy boots, as the name suggests, were originally worn by cowboys. They have round to pointed toe, heels (generally starting from 5cm) and a high shaft with round edges – characteristic of this style.
They are commonly made from cow leather but it is not uncommon to find them made from more exotic leathers such as crocodile and snakes.
Cowboy boots are not for winter only: they are a very popular item for spring and summer outfits, matching well with light dresses and shorts. Together with combat boots, they are good choices for “festival looks”. However, as they are made of leather, they are automatically a good option for winter, too. They give outfits a bit of a countryside style.
Long and Over-the-knee boots
Different from the other boots we talked about, these ones do not have very specific characteristics, other than being long.
They can be made of leather, suede, synthetic material; be flat or have heels, have round or pointed toes… What matters is that they have long shafts.
Long boots (also called knee boots) have been popular among women for a long time, while over-the-knee ones are getting more popular now – most likely because it is not always easy to compose a look with them and also, they are a statement impossible to ignore, so a certain degree of personality is required.
Beanies are knit caps worn to keep your head and ears warm. They can be made of wool or synthetic fibers and into a range of different styles. Below are some examples of beanie models and how to wear them.
4. Current Winter Fashion Trends
Trends dictate what happens in fashion. There are two types of trends in the fashion universe: long term and short term.
Long term trends are researched 3-5 years before a product is seen in the market. Many things have to be studied and understood in order to forecast what the public will want to buy in the future.
Economy, cultural changes, society behavior… all these things can help predict what will sell. The reason it is done years in advance is because from the results of these researches will come the decisions of what materials and colors will be produced and producing and shipping them can take a long time.
Short term trends focus on the products themselves. After brands and designers learn what material and colors are the best for each season, they can start focusing on what pieces people will be willing to wear.
So, if blue and jeans are materials and colors that have a great chance to be accepted and people’s behavior is going towards the 70s, we can predict that high waist flare trousers will be seen on the catwalks and soon be produced by luxury and high street brands.
Thus, turning to the catwalks for inspiration is actually the last step – not the first – on fashion forecasting. When a product or concept is seen on the catwalks everything is already pretty much decided .
Read “Fashion Trends: Analysis and Forecasting” by E. Kim, A. N. Fiore, H. Kim (Berg, 2013. ISBN 0857853147, 9780857853141) if you want to know more about fashion forecasting.
Based on what we have seen on the catwalks in this year’s fashion weeks, we can predict the product trends for this Fall/Winter.
Glossy Leather and Vinyl
For those who love everyone’s eyes looking towards them, glossy leather and vinyl will be there to give them a hand.
Lacoste, Kenzo, Nina Ricci, Valentino, Iceberg, Lanvin, Isabel Marant, Lorenzo Serafini, Courrèges, Anthony Vaccarello and others, all used the wet-looking material to give their collections a sexy look.
Animal prints are always present in fashion and for this winter the chosen animal is the leopard. Bottega Veneta, Dior, Prada, Givenchy, Moschino, Maison Margiela and others embraced the wildness in their collections.
It seems like this winter is all about wet-effect: shimmery and watery-looking velvet could be spotted on the catwalks as part of several designers’ pieces.
Pleats are everywhere. They were seen in spring/summer collections and made their way through the fall/winter ones too. And not only for skirts; pleats could be spotted on dresses and tops, as well; giving the pieces lightness and femininity.
Considering so many coats are based on military attire, it’s no wonder the military style was seen in so many collections. And for this winter they come in very, very long coats. Prada, John Galliano, Tommy Hilfiger, Coach, RED Valentino and others brought their versions of the military to the catwalks.
New York, London, Milan, Paris… shearling coats hit all the runways. Shearling is one of those trends that comes and goes and it seems it is definitely going to be one of the options to keep you warm and cozy.
Shine and sequins
It is cold, yes, but it doesn’t mean you won’t go out. For all the party lovers – and for those who don’t need any special reason to simply shine – sequins and shiny fabrics will be there to make them happy.
And the shine vibe keeps going with the help of lurex. The sparkly thread is woven into different types of fabrics to make sure you can shine regardless of what you are wearing. Dolce & Gabbana, Balenciaga, Wanda Nylon, Missoni, Isabel Marant, Vionnet and more used lurex in their collections.
Puff jackets are always a question mark. Some seasons they are considered the epitome of ugliness and the piece to be avoided – or burnt if you have one. And in some other seasons, people just realize how cold they have been without a puff jacket and find ways to integrate them into fashion again.
That will be the case this season. Acne Studios, Balenciaga, DKNY, Stella McCartney, Hood By Hair, Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood and more brought the comfy puff to the catwalks.
Fur is always expected when it comes to winter fashion. The major discussion is generally whether it should be real or faux fur and each brand decides what to go for.
For this upcoming winter, fur and faux fur make their appearance in colorful ways. Fendi, Chloé, Dsquared2, Salvatore Ferragamo, Koché, Giorgio Armani and others, all appealed to the power of warm fur.
Loewe, Prada, Bottega Veneta, Balmain, Miu Miu, Givenchy… designers decided to elongate the waist using corsets. The material varied between leather and metal, but all of them brought to the catwalks structured silhouettes.
Because you can go fluffy on fur or girly on sequin but there are those days you just want to show the world you can be cool, too.
Alexander McQueen, Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane, Etro, Valentino, Gucci and others all know that and are bringing back the biker jacket this season. From the classic models to inputs of great creativity, leather jackets will come to the stores soon again.
Suede, fringes, cowboy boots… the cowgirl style also promises to play a role in this winter’s fashion. Reinvented in more modern ways, the style comes back looking a lot more feminine.
They are not simply capes; they are statement capes. We can say that capes will come and they will make sure everyone knows about them.