What to Wear to Work in the Winter

what to wear to work in the winterAt some point, every stylish young professional wonders what to wear to work in the winter. We’ve had a ton of great discussions over the years, from how to do business casual in cold weather, to specific advice on navigating a New York winter with style and grace (watch out for subway puddles!) I thought we’d round up some of our best advice in one spot!

What Tops to Wear to Work in the Winterwhat to wear to work in the winter - image of a woman in a coat, hat and mittens

  • It’s hard to beat cashmere sweaters or merino wool sweaters for warmth, and you can find them in a huge range of styles, colors, and prices. We round up our favorites on a regular basis — see our most recent roundups of our favorite affordable cashmere for work or our favorite merino wool sweaters.
  • Don’t be afraid of layering for additional warmth, particularly on top — a silk button front blouse layers nicely under most sweaters as well as some sleeveless sheath dresses; a thin turtleneck can also be a great layering piece when you just need warmth.
  • Whether it’s a holiday networking event or a holiday office party, I’ve always been a fan of the festive blazer in fabrics like velvet or tweed — here’s our last roundup of the best winter blazers to wear to work.
  • Sheath dresses or sweater dresses can also be great — especially if you’re dealing with a warmer winter with a lot of slush and puddles. They’re warm enough that you’re not freezing, and the tights + dress + boot combo leaves you without any too-long trouser legs to get wet. (See more thoughts on tights/stockings below!)

The Best Bottoms to Wear to Work in the Winter

What to Wear to Work in the Winter: Professional Outerwear

  • Keep your feet warm! If it’s slushy, cold weather, check out our last roundup on weatherproof boots. And if you have to INTERVIEW in a snowstorm — or otherwise want to wear, say, a skirt suit and pumps — we rounded up some of the best foldable, packable boots so you can easily change once you get inside the building. (These boots can also be great to keep at your office as emergency footwear!)
  • Ideally, you want to look for a grreat winter coat that fits on top of blazers, is long enough (mid-thigh) to wear with skirts, and is polished enough to walk down the office hallway. We’ve rounded up thoughts on how to find a great winter coat, as well as all-time favorite winter coats — note that while I’ve always been against puffy coats for work, many readers swear by this one from Patagonia. Over at CorporetteMoms, we’ve shared some washable winter coats.
  • If you’re always freezing, you may want to choose a scarf that’s big enough to double as a wrap so you can keep it on once you get to the office — they’re great for layering, even on top of blazers. We rounded up our some of our favorite wraps here.

What to Wear to Work During a Warm Winter

Finally, if you’re new to business attire and need some broad categories of what not to wear to work in the winter (or to winter networking events like those held for students home on break), these should help:

Readers, what are your thoughts — what do you think you should NOT wear to work in the winter? What do you wear the most to work in the winter (sweaters? warm blazers? fleece tights?)? What fashion gaffes for winter workwear do you see at your office or on your commute?

Stock photo via Deposit Photos / @ adam_r

It can be super hard to know what the heck to wear to work in the winter! How do you look sophisticated and put together when you're trudging through snow and slush -- and fighting to stay warm? We rounded up some of our best advice on what to wear to work in winter.

Comments

  1. Anonymous :

    It’s all well and good to be “against” puffy coats to work until you live in Canada which might as well be the North Pole. EVERYBODY here wears puffy coats/parks and Sorels to work. There’s no room for fashion when it’s -35 and there’s snow up to your knees.

    • Anonymous :

      Ok!

      • Anon, come on. :

        I know, right? Okay, I’m still against me wearing puffy coats for work. You do you, it’s fine!

    • Bold North :

      +1 – if you live somewhere where it actually gets below freezing on a regular basis in the winter, you dress for warmth, and not style. And puffy coats (or ski jackets, or whatever) are going to be a lot warmer and cut the wind better than that wool coat. All of your professional colleagues know this. You risk looking stupid for NOT dressing for the weather. Oh, and that one guy who gets away with just wearing the wool top coat (or his suit jacket) can do it because he has a connected garage at home and then parks in the underground ramp at work, so is never actually outside. And is still stupid for not bringing appropriate winter wear to work/end rant.

      And warmth is not sleek. Don’t even try. Yes, you can have several thin layers, but the thing that ACTUALLY keeps you warm is the air pockets between the layers. So a bunch of skin tight layers not only looks weird, doesn’t actually help. Again, applies mostly to places where temps get below freezing regular. But there’s a reason why cozy and sleek do not usually end up as synonymous.

      • Anonymous :

        Oh man, I hate those suit jacket guys. I see them running out to get a cup of coffee in their oxfords and jackets.

    • I agree. I wore one to a job interview once in a very bad snow storm and the interview complemented me on being dressed sensibly for the weather and I am convinced it’s part of the reason I got the job, i.e., that she perceived me as someone sensible, etc.

      Puffy coats have also come a long way from ski parkas. There are TONS of perfectly work appropriate options. And accessories can help – both with not being cold and with looking “professional.” It took me a long time to realize this, but a good hat, boots, and scarf make all the difference in my comfort on very cold days.

    • Anonymous :

      Yeah I’m in the Midwestern US (in a fairly casual office but still) and it would never occur to me not to commute in Uggs or Joan of Arctics and a puffy coat. When it’s snowing or -10 degrees outside, you have to dress for the weather. And I and most of my colleagues have a car commute, I’m sure it’s even more true if you live in a big city and walk or take the subway.

    • Panda Bear :

      Amen! I’m in Boston and say puffy coats forever. I love the look of a sleek wool coat, but it’s just not practical in the cold/wind/sleet/general winter misery. And I am one of those lucky people with an attached garage. I still can’t bear life without my puffer.

    • Yup. Wear a real coat and good boots, change into shoes at the office and hang up your giant puffy coat next to everyone else’s giant puffy coat. Your only problem is making sure you pick up your own giant puffy coat and not someone else’s identical coat..

    • legal canuck :

      +1!

      We have coat closets in court and in our offices where we all put our warm jackets and boots. We would rather be sensible then cold and wet (because slush sucks) ! No one here gives it a second thought. In fact, we are the opposite. If someone wears something that is not weather appropriate we notice and usually comment.

    • +1

  2. “For my $.02, showing bare legs in winter when it’s unseasonably warm is a no-no”

    This seems odd to me. I am in the SEUS and if it is warm enough to go bare legs why not? I agree it might be seen as to have bare legs when it is 12 degrees outside but why not be comfortable?

    • Bold North :

      +1 – not that it would ever get warm enough to forgo tights here in the winter (even if was unseasonably warm), I don’t get the advice. Dress for the actual weather, not the calendar.

    • 60 degrees in DC and I am loving my bare legs today. Also 50% of the women in my office are doing the same right now.

      • Never too many shoes... :

        Really? I converted to Celsius and that is like 15.5 which feels quite chilly to me for bare legs.

      • I wear stockings in the winter, so I think that is NOT bare leg’s. The only alternative is to wear tight’s and the manageing partner does NOT like me to do that, so I only do that on Friday’s or when it is cold out. Personaly, I recommend to the HIVE that you DO wear a puffy coat with MANY layers under neathe it. Plus a nice 5 foot scarf, that you can wrap around your neck and ear’s if need be, and if you have a hood on your puffy coat, all the better! I have a VERY nice puffy coat from Canadian GOOSE this year with a real parka hood with I think real raccoon skin fur, and it looks very cute. More importantley, it is VERY warm and allows me to walk to work and back (while Dad watches on the Fitbit). Dad is always asking why I stop walking 1/2 of the way home, but I can at least tell the HIVE that I stop at Whole Foods on 57th and 2nd to sit for a while, drink a coffee, and eat their stuff, so that when I come home, I do NOT need to eat a full meal again.

        I love Whole Foods, and this one is better then the one on 3rd and 88th, which the hot food is NOT as fresh. I know that when I move to the West Side, there is another one on 59th and Colombus Circle, so even if it is on a block near me that is a big cross-town schlep for me to walk all the way up from the HUDSON RIVER! FOOEY. Dad will be happy b/c I will be getting my FITBIT steps in, but I say DOUBEL FOOEY!

    • Not me, I think it looks foolish. Also foolish – not wearing socks. I can’t tell you how many cold ankles I saw when it was in the negatives in DC.

      • Even if it was clearly warm enough? Like yesterday it was 70 degrees and sunny where I live…

      • Anonymous :

        I feel like most shoes preclude socks unless you’re wearing booties. Socks and flats is NAGL.

    • Yeah, I agree, that advice is weird. Dress appropriately for the temperature; don’t wear tights if you’re going to be sweaty and miserable in them. It was 70 in Houston yesterday. The actual temperature does not care what your calendar says.

    • Anonymama :

      Yeah, maybe this applies to New York and Chicago, but seems a little absurd in, say, Los Angeles or Phoenix or Miami.

  3. In-House in Houston :

    Has anyone used Monogram Tours to go to Europe? They seem to have great tours (3 days in London, 3 in Paris, 3 in Madrid, 3 in Barcelona) where they take care of everything for you (hotel, tours, travel between cities, breakfast). All you have to do is get to London and back home. It seems like you can spend a little extra to get a nicer room. But I was just wondering if any of you have used them for travel? TIA.
    https://monograms.com/

  4. Kat, did you see this article? It says that the US Olympic Team will be wearing heavy Ralph Lauren coats with little electric heaters inside them! Because I Love Ralph Lauren clotheing, I am going up to 72nd street tomorrow on my way to work to see if I can get one just like this, so I can heat my own tuchus when I am outside! I am willing to pay for it b/c I need for my tuchus to stay warm! YAY!!

    http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/22/news/companies/team-usa-uniforms-opening-ceremony-olympics/index.html?iid=hp-stack-dom

  5. With winters the comfort factor comes in and out goes style. Festive blazers in velvet or tweed just never go out of style and the same goes for puffy coats. The idea of teaming up a silk blouse with a warm sweater is good to go too, but might not work in harsh winters.

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