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Warm and Couture: Your Guide to Staying Fashionable During Winter

Photographed by Quinn McCaffrey of Allison Settembrini

By Marisa Fisher

As the winter months are approaching, people are scattering to gather their winter outfit inspiration. So, you check through Pinterest and Instagram, but all the inspiration you can find are LA influencers in a sweater and a skirt as if they have never seen snow in their life. So, what do you wear in Michigan weather where you are sure to face cold winds and inches of snow?

Start off by pulling all of your winter clothes out of the back of your closet. Then separate the pieces that you love from the ones you have evolved past this season. Then pick out the things in your good pile that either don’t fit or are worn in some ways that will inhibit wear. These pieces can then be donated to your local thrift store or thrown away in the case of severely damaged items. Chances are, you will end this step with a few good sweaters and some warm pants to create the base of your winter wardrobe.

If you don’t already have one from last year, finding a jacket is the most crucial step. Depending on your style, a puffer with a fuzzy lining or a thick wool trench coat are amazing options for a jacket that will keep you warm and cozy. It is best to keep jackets in true neutral colors or your own personal neutrals. For example, if you wear a lot of whites and pastels, a light pink jacket could be considered “neutral” for you as it can complement most of your wardrobe.

Once you have your jacket, you will need to find your winter accessories. The three basic pieces you will need are gloves, scarves and a hat or earmuffs. One of the easiest ways to look coordinated in every winter outfit is to get all three of these pieces in a matching color that will either create a monochrome look with your jacket or will complement its color. For gloves, you will want to find something that has a warm lining but not so bulky that it will get in the way of your daily activities. I recommend something with cashmere or merino wool as a lining. I also recommend the same materials for scarves as they can be very cozy, and the fabrics look much more luxurious than the standard acrylic that is normally used. Finally, for headwear, you have a choice between hats or earmuffs. If hats are your thing, any style will work as long as it can cover your ears. A nice wool beanie is a great option, however, if you are not into hats and messing up your hair is a big concern, earmuffs are a perfect middle ground as they still cover your ears (sometimes more securely than hats), and they will not flatten down your hair like a hat would.

Next, you will want to find a nice pair of winter boots. Unfortunately for Michigan weather, your UGG boots are not going to be enough. Try finding a pair with good traction on the bottom, a waterproof exterior, and a warm lining on the inside. This will keep your feet cozy and dry on the inside no matter how many inches of snow you walk through on the way to class. When picking the color and style of your boots, you can either match the color, if you previously chose a more monochrome look, or you can stick with one of the two base colors from your accessories or jacket. For example, if you have a white puffer coat with a fur collar, you can easily find some amazing puffy boots with a fur cuff around the top that will not inhibit warmth or waterproofing.
Now that you have established your outer layer, there are some simple steps you can take to make the clothes you already love a bit more winter friendly. If you love to wear skirts one of the best items you can invest in is a pair of fleece-lined tights. You can either get these in opaque styles featuring a sweater knit for a statement piece, or you can get a pair that appears to be a normal translucent tight that makes the thick interior fleece look like your own skin color. These can help you keep your style while also feeling like you are just wearing a pair of cozy fleece leggings.

Another easy way to adapt your current wardrobe to winter is layering. If you already own a puffy vest, layer it over a sweater. Even your dresses can be turned into a “skirt” by belting a sweater over it to make a tucked-in or cropped look. For the snowy months, even nonvisible layers can be used without making an outfit feel too bulky. Fitted thermal undergarments can be put under a regular sweater and jeans, without making it feel like you have too many layers on.

If you find that you do not have enough transitional clothes that you can make more cold weather friendly, shopping for winter knits and well-insulated pants is going to be your last step. Amour Vert has a wide range of sustainably made sweaters and cardigans that are perfect for layering over or under your other wardrobe pieces. & Other Stories is a brand that carries many different options of warm pants in materials such as wool blends and leather that will be thick enough to keep you warm, while also providing a more structured silhouette that can easily be lost with tons of layers. Overall, Madewell is an excellent brand for sustainably made sweaters and trousers at a slightly lower price point than the previous two brands discussed.

Now that you have completed all these steps you should have all you need to make it through the cold months while still looking as fashionable as possible. While your jacket and accessories will ensure you stay warm on your outdoor walks, using minor changes to the outfit underneath will ensure you are warm even when staying inside. Finally, shopping for signature pieces will fully round out your look making sure you are ready for months of snow and holiday fun!

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