The Best Winter Clothes: How to Stay Warm without adding bulk to your outfit

One of my biggest style challenges (and life struggle) is staying warm in the winter, so I have been on the hunt for the best winter clothes. You know how some people seem to be always hot – well, I’m usually cold. Therefore, I’m a big fan of layers year-round. Even in the summer, I always carry a sweater with me. In the winter however, I don’t want to look like a bundled up snowman, so I’ve come up with a few ways that work for me to add warmth to my outfit without adding bulk.

Best Winter Clothes - Staying Warm in the Winter - Down Vests, Cozy Socks, Cute Hats, Fleece Leggings, Wool Sweaters, and more on
Here are the best winter clothes / 5 easy ways to Stay Warm  (without adding bulk):


  1. Warm Socks – As someone who is not a big fan of socks (hello Uggs…), I put off wearing them for as long as possible during the year. However, heat often escapes your body through your feet, so keeping your feet warm is a big step to keeping your whole body warm. When it hits freezing, I pull out my socks. I have some thick, cozy socks that I love wearing around the house. I received Yaktrax cabin socks for Christmas and those are amazing for indoor wear. They are super soft and even have aloe inside, but they are on the thicker side. Thin wool socks have been the real game-changer for me. Smartwool and REI are some of my favorite brands. Though they specialize in outdoor gear, you can find some cute options. Nordstrom has also started carrying Smartwool. Though they are more expensive than your average cotton socks, you should buy at least one pair and give it a try. They’re life changing. There are also many thicker options, which are great for cozy days at home or for outdoor activites, but the thinner ones are perfect for everyday wear.

Best Winter Clothes - Staying Warm in the Winter - Down Vests, Cozy Socks, Cute Hats, Fleece Leggings, Wool Sweaters, and more on

  1. Lightweight Down Vest – I’ve always been a huge fan of the down vest. Following along the same lines as the socks, vests are a great way to keep your core warm and when your core is warm, your entire body stays warmer. For years, I had a down vest that I loved and it kept me warm, but as it started to look a little worn down. At the end of last season, I started on the hunt to find a replacement and have ended up with this Patagonia vest. While you can certainly find cheaper options, it’s a great piece to invest in. Depending on your activity level, Patagonia has different weights of vests. In replacing my old vest, I opted to go for a lightweight option and I’m so glad that I did. While it does mean I’m slightly more limited as to when I can wear it on it’s own, it has become the perfect layering piece. On super cold days, I  put it underneath my regular winter coat as an added layer and since it’s thin, it’s not noticeable. On warmer days or if I’m cold at home, I just throw it on over a longsleeve shirt. As I mentioned you can certainly find a less expensive option, but I like knowing that it was responsibly made and you can’t beat Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee.

Best Winter Clothes - Staying Warm in the Winter - Down Vests, Cozy Socks, Cute Hats, Fleece Leggings, Wool Sweaters, and more on

  1. Fleece Lined Leggings – Another game changer for me. Though they may have “gone out of style” a few years ago, leggings are still one of my favorite things to throw on during the weekends or when I get home at night. When you try to wear regular yoga-style leggings outside, it can just feel brutal. The fleece adds another layer of warm without adding the bulk. I purchased mine at a local Columbus store called Vernacular, but you can shop online here and here.

Best Winter Clothes - Staying Warm in the Winter - Down Vests, Cozy Socks, Cute Hats, Fleece Leggings, Wool Sweaters, and more on

  1. Cute Hat – I like wearing cute fedora or widebrim hats throughout the year, but have never really been one for beanies. However, when I saw these beanie hats with the pom at the end of last winter, I fell in love. I just think they are so cute! My hubby purchased one like this from Vernacular. Now that I have a hat that I really like, I’m more excited about wearing it and wear it whenever I can. It’s a great way to make you feel cute even when you’re super bundled up in all the winter layers.

Best Winter Clothes - Staying Warm in the Winter - Down Vests, Cozy Socks, Cute Hats, Fleece Leggings, Wool Sweaters, and more on

  1. Lightweight Wool Sweater – Switch out your cotton sweaters for wool. Some of you reading this are probably saying – duh Lauren, this is how winter works. However, when my winter coping mechanism was denial – this has been an absolute game changer for me! I never liked how itchy so many wool sweaters are, so look for one with cashmere. The one I’m wearing is from J.Crew and it’s a mix of wool/nylon/cashmere, so it’s soft and affordable. Once I put it on, I immediately feel warmer. Before when I was on a clothing budget, I used to feel like some of these pieces were out of my price range, but cheaper isn’t always better. It’s useful to consider cost per wear. For example, if I purchase this sweater at $100 and wear it 20x, my cost per wear is $5. However, if I purchase a cheaper option at $20 and only wear it 2 times, my cost per wear is $10. Not to mention, the more expensive one is of better quality and makes me feel happier when I wear it. But just because something is more expensive, it doesn’t mean that something is better quality. I don’t believe in buying brands just because it’s a certain brand.


What I’m Wearing:

Striped Long Sleeve Shirt with Fringe Hem

V Neck Cardigan

Dark Rinse Denim Jeans

Ugg Boots

Patagonia Lightweight Down Vest

Tote Bag / Similar

North Face Jacket / Similar


  • Fleece lined leggings are genius!


  • LOVE the tips! Need that vest!

    Xoxo Mandy

  • Awesome tips, I love the vest its super cute!

  • Anna English

    These tips are great!

  • Love these! I am definitely a big vest fan! I think I own one in almost every color. Ha! I need to invest in more warm socks. Always important!!

    • Love it, Kelssey – I only have black vests right now, but would like to get a fun color for next winter!

  • Sarah Lindner

    These are such good tips. I love the vest
    Sarah Lindner

  • Ashley Zeal

    Great tips!!! I’ll definitely be using these for my trip to NYC!

    • Thanks Ashley – yes, hope it’s not too cold while you’re there!

  • I’m always cold too! I need to get a warmer coat.

    Xo Ally

    • Yes, a warm winter coat is helpful – I see so many people here with just sweatshirts on even the coldest days!

  • Stefanie

    i love your hat! I think a hat is a totally underrated way to stay warm. Even here in San Francisco where its not that cold, I find that just wearing a hat does so much!


    • Thanks Stephanie – yes, so true! SF can be surprising cold with the fog 🙂

  • Great tips! I am always worried about looking so big and puffy just to stay warm lol!

    • Thanks Laura – yes, me too!

  • I’m heading to Park City in a few weeks and need some of these tips!

    xo Jessica

    My Style Vita

    • Thanks for reading, Jessica – enjoy your trip!