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How to layer for winter.

It may be cold but that doesn’t mean your style has to go into hibernation. We don’t fault you for going full marshmallow in the winter, and choosing the first jacket that’s most similar to your comforter. After all, we all know how hard it is to leave your bed on a chilly morning. However, there are ways to ensure that you’re nearly as comfortable outside as you are inside.

The key to fighting the chill of the winter season is by creatively layering clothes. Layering clothes doesn’t just look chic, it also serves the important functional purpose of insulation. Two thinner layers trap air between them, supplying some thermal insulation by retaining your body heat. Layering multiple pieces of the right clothing works to keep you warm better than one thick layer.

Here’s a step-by-step guide that will show you how to layer your clothes for the winter, plus some outfit ideas to inspire your cold-weather wardrobe 

1. Base Layer

Your first step for layering clothes is picking your first layer, also known as the base layer—this is what’s going to be directly on your skin, so make sure it’s comfortable. For example, you might want to wear a cotton t-shirt or a wool top for your base layer. There’s a good chance that this part of your outfit won’t be seen, so don’t worry too much about matching your other layers.

If you are planning on showing off your first layer, make sure it coordinates with your second and third layers. Try to keep a similar color palette between garments for a more sophisticated and polished look.

The purpose of your base layer is two-fold: to wick moisture away from the skin to keep you from getting cold, as well as to provide a foundation for your other layers. You can go lightweight, midweight, or heavyweight depending on how frosty it is outside.

Great material options:

  • Wool
  • Cotton
  • Silk

2. Mid Layer

The second step to layering clothes for maximum warmth and style is choosing the right middle layer of your clothing sandwich. The mid layer is your insulative layer—this is the part of your outfit that works the hardest to add heat-retaining properties. It should be a little looser than your first layer to create a chamber for insulation, but not so loose that wind can get through.

Garments like a cashmere sweater, a long-sleeved t-shirt, or a chambray button-down are great choices for the middle layer. This is the appropriate layer for your favorite, softest sweater. Don’t have one? You’d be surprised how many high-quality sweaters can be found at your local thrift store. It just takes a little digging.

Great material options:

  • Wool
  • Fleece
  • Down
  • Synthetic fiberfill
  • Cotton

3. Outer Layer

The outer layer or shell of your ensemble is going to be the heftiest garment in your outfit, capable of blocking wind or rain. You can go with a vegan leather jacket, a peacoat, an overcoat, or even a tailored hoodie.

Your outer shell is what most people will see when you’re walking around, so invest in something you love. This final layer should speak to your personal aesthetic. In addition, if your first and second layers are showing, make sure they mesh well together. Choose patterns in the same color family or go for complementary colors. 

If you’re looking for a more edgy and artistic aesthetic, you can’t go wrong with a faux leather jacket. Pair it with a beanie, skinny jeans, and a bright  knitted scarf for a pop of color.

A peacoat is a classic choice that’s persisted in the fashion world for decades. We recommend a double-breasted version in a neutral shade that you can wear all winter long.

When you imagine a winter look, a hoodie might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, a tailored hoodie can be a chic addition to your layered clothing look. Look for a hoodie with an asymmetrical hem, a longer, tunic-like length or faux fur lining.

One key aspect about your outer layer is that it should be easy to remove, since this is the layer that you’ll most likely be taking off and adding back on frequently throughout the day.

4. Bottoms

For your bottoms, you have a variety of options. Depending on how cold it is outside, you might be able to get away with simply wearing a pair of jeans or trousers and calling it a day. But you can also easily layer your bottoms for a more visually interesting effect.

Skinny jeans are a classic that work the entire calendar year, so don’t forget about them in your quest for layering clothes for winter. You can always wear a layer of thick wool tights underneath for extra warmth.

5. Flats

In the colder winter months, it’s in your best interest to avoid heels on slippery, wet, or icy pavement. Heels increase your chance of falling because they lack a stable platform. Plus, the health benefits of ditching them altogether outweigh anything else.

Flats like Rothy’s act as a dependable foundation all year long. Instead of putting your faith in heels, your Rothy’s are a safe staple for all seasons. Rothy’s can be worn with socks or tights for additional warmth and style. Think of your Rothy’s as another tier in your layered look. Don’t be afraid of picking a brighter color for some visual interest or go with a neutral that pairs well with a variety of outfits.

Layered clothing outfit ideas with your Rothy’s:

The Flat: Blue skinnies, black and white striped turtleneck, camel sweater, black overcoat, tights, and The Flat in Spotted.

The Point: Patterned black tights, midi-length wool skirt, thermal base layer, chambray button down, olive green peacoat, and The Point in Grey Camo.

The Loafer: Acid wash blue jeans, a collared white button-down with a teal sweater, a camel coat, and The Loafer in Fawn.

The Sneaker: Grey pleated trousers, black tights, patterned long sleeve tunic, tailored grey hoodie, and The Sneaker in Black Solid.

6. Accessories

The final touch to your layered look is adding weather-appropriate accessories. Something to keep in mind when you’re planning your accessories is to balance out each item, making sure they work together as a whole. 

7. General Tips for Layering

  • Layer from thinnest to thickest.
  • Consider proportions: Pair a bulky sweater with slim-fitting bottoms, for example. 
  • Make sure your entire ensemble looks good together as a whole, even as you start to remove a few layers.

It takes a little bit of planning to plan out a practical but stylish layered clothing outfit, but you don’t have to sacrifice your aesthetic to be warm. A pair of Rothy’s can walk you into winter with confidence, and adds the perfect finishing touch to your layered ensemble.

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