The absolute best layering pieces for warmth and style

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If living in New York City for more than a decade taught me anything, it’s that the best defense against a fierce winter is a healthy layering strategy. Sure, there’s nothing worse than walking out the door feeling like the Michelin Man, but the best layers for winter aren’t suffocating or bulky at all: Instead, they’re lightweight, insulating and trap heat without making you sweat. In fact, thin, warm foundational pieces are an absolute must for anyone that plans to brace the frigid cold.

As with most things weather-related, New Yorkers abide by a tried-and-true strategy: Instead of throwing on any old long-sleeve tee, know that your base layer should be sweat-wicking rather than moisture-absorbing. That means you should look for materials like polyester, silk or other synthetic fabrics that remove moisture from the skin and transfer it to the next layer. (Your 100% cotton turtleneck doesn’t do this — it traps moisture and can make you sweat, which will eventually make you colder.) Your middle layers should be insulating, so materials like fleece and wool are your best bets here. Top off your outfit with a wind- and water-proof layer like a puffer coat that can protect you from fun weather patterns like rain, sleet and snow.

Lastly, more important than your body layers are hats, gloves and socks, which you can swap out depending on how long you’ll be outside, as well as what you’ll be doing out there. For a simple commute, wool mittens will probably do the trick — but if you’re skiing, tailgating or doing anything that makes you vulnerable to unpredictable weather, it’s best to play it safe. Unfortunately, it’s often hard to find stylish, on-trend layers that are practical, too. Luckily, you don’t have to choose between your personal style and your clunky duck boots to stay warm this winter.

Ahead, look at 20 warm winter layering pieces that are stylish, too.

Base Layers

Base layers typically remain under the radar — and under your clothes. Still, I’ve been caught with a tattered poly-blend turtleneck in an office where the heat was pumping and immediately regretted not buying something cuter to keep me warm. Uniqlo’s HeatTech is made from a poly-rayon blend, which means it checks all the base-layer boxes. Still, remember that not every base layer needs to come from a performance-specific brand: Copenhagen-based label Baum Und Pferdgarten makes majorly stylish base layers, and Urban Outfitters is my go-to for affordable basics. 

Urban Outfitters Willow Bodysuit, $45

Credit: Urban Outfitters

Uniqlo HeatTech Turtleneck, $19.90

Credit: Uniqlo

Baum Und Pferdgarten CEARA Sweater, $249 

Credit: Baum Und Pferdgarten

Patagonia Capilene Air Crew Neck, $129

Credit: Patagonia

Uniqlo HeatTech Knit Ribbed Leggings, $19.90

Credit: Uniqlo

Middle Layers

Middle layers are often the ones that others see: your chunky turtleneck, your marled cardigan — you get the gist. That means it’s important that this layer is both warm and stylish. Look for materials like wool, cashmere and other traditionally warm materials that can help insulate you from the bitter cold.

Athleta Wool Cashmere Aspen Turtleneck Sweater, $179

Credit: Athleta

YanYan Mohair Cirrus Plaid Pullover, $475

Credit: Yan Yan

A Lot Studio Into You Cardigan, $125

Credit: A Lot Studio

Marciano Doris Sweater Top, $178

Credit: Marciano

Eleven Six Aurora Sweater, $498

Credit: Eleven Six

Top Layers and Coats

In years past, you probably bought a winter coat based solely on two factors: it fits, and it keeps you warm. These days, a stylish winter coat isn’t an oxymoron: Aritzia’s Super Puff, a goose-down puffer jacket, comes in a variety of sizes and colors and Everlane’s ReNew material is made from recycled plastic bottles.

Aritiza Super Puff Mid, $298

Credit: Aritzia

Girlfriend Collective Wine Cropped Recycled Puffer, $169 (Orig. $198)

Credit: Girlfriend Collective

Everlane The ReNew Long Puffer, $198

Credit: Everlane

Woolrich Aurora Long Parka in Ivory, $990 

Credit: Woolrich

RAINS Hooded Quilted Padded Shell Coat, $440

Credit: RAINS

Accessories

Use your accessories — like a bright-colored beanie or a cozy scarf — as the sartorial cherry on top. In other words: Unless you’re snow-bound, have some fun with colors and proportions. A huge, chunky scarf looks refreshingly chic with a tailored coat, and a pastel beanie has the potential to transform your entire outfit. 

Ganni Recycled Rib-Knit Beanie, $67 (Orig. $95)

Credit: SSENSE

Nike Dri-Fit Training Socks, $22

Credit: Dick’s Sporting Goods

NAADAM Signature Cashmere Gloves, $75

Credit: NAADAM

J.Crew Ribbed Scarf, $46.50 (Orig. $79.50) 

Credit: J.Crew

The North Face Salty Bae Beanie, $35

Credit: REI

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