Lazy but presentable winter outfits?
October 8, 2018 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Cold weather is coming and I need a master plan for a casual winter "uniform." Criteria: maximally warm and cosy, comfy and flexible (thus, no jeans). Looks put-together enough to not be embarrassing if you run into your boss at the grocery store. Not necessarily fashion forward, but not painfully dated. Ideas?

US and female here, btw. I'd had vague ideas about just stockpiling a bunch of fleece-lined leggings and waterfall cardigans, but now there's apparently some sort of crazy thing happening with ankle (?) flares (??), the death of athleisure (sob), and I no longer have any confidence in my own sense of what looks publicly presentable in a not-2010 way.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated, and super bonus points for pics or links to show the specific type of garment(s) or oufits you mean (vs. just "tunic and boots"). Yes, I am aware of Pinterest, but I keep finding boards full of "fashion-warm" not warm-warm outfits-- if there are keywords I should be trying, please share. Thanks!
posted by Bardolph to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
Define "cold"?

I mean, I am male and a philistine, but for cold=there will probably be a month-long stretch where the temperature never climbs above freezing, I'd say "A long coat that's currently fashionable-but-conservative," since then nobody can see what you're wearing between your neck and ~knees. But obvs that won't work if cold means that sometimes it drops into the 40s in the middle of the night.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:12 AM on October 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Sweater dress, fleece lined leggings, squishy socks, ankle boots. The sweater dress is the secret pajamas of being femme. Some sweater dresses are needlessly form fitting, of course. Ignore those and go for fit and flare or a-line, and look for thicker knits for warmth and nice patterns for figure obscuring magic. For further warmth try a thermal silk shell under the dress, and of course there's a world of cardigans and coats. To bump up to real winter cold protection look into longjohns to wear under leggings and aim for multiple thinner layers, and don't forget your hat.

I like this dress because of the shape and the pops of color - Eliza J
This one has nice long sleeves and a very flattering stripe pattern - Spense
This squishy dress is a cotton blend and comes in on-trend forest green or grey - Target
posted by Mizu at 8:21 AM on October 8, 2018 [19 favorites]

I’m interested in answers - but yes: how cold is cold, and, do you typically walk, take transit, or drive? (Because one might mean arctic gear and another might mean layers.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:42 AM on October 8, 2018

Athleisure dies when I do, frankly. My ankles deserve a tight covering!

Kind of to that point, I really like Title Nine's style, mostly their winter dresses or tunics over legging and big squishy socks and big boots. Their stuff is pricey (and I can't tell if its sustainably sourced), but I can confirm that it last for-ev-er. Seconding that sweater dresses are pajamas you are allowed to wear to work, or at least in public.

These are my favorite giant very warm socks, though as you can guess from the name, Sockdreams has a lot to choose from.

I have some thin wool baselayers from Icebreaker, but I also love Uniqlo's heattech baselayer system - it's a bit softer out of the gate, but if you're comfortable being gentle with them, Icebreaker stuff also lasts forever.
posted by kalimac at 8:43 AM on October 8, 2018 [9 favorites]

Dunno how you feel about your butt and legs, but since you're good with leggings and a tunic, may I suggest NYDJ ponte pants? IMO, they're more flattering than Betabrand Yoga Work pants, quite warm, and only slightly less comfortable than a good pair of leggings. They have a real button fly--which ups the presentability factor (and is responsible for the slight loss pyjama feel)--but are a step up from jeans. They wash well (my oldest pair is still super-black) and are pretty warm.

Here in Chicago, I wear them without tights underneath until about sustained 35 degrees F. Then I add tights underneath, if I'm riding the bus because standing around waiting is cold. If I'm biking, I will just will ski socks under them.

Otherwise, I really like Icebreaker's Lifestyle clothes for warm and comfy, but publicly presentable. Expensive, definitely, but I've gotten 5-6 years out of what is now the Tabi pant, with no sign of wear. The dresses are good for layering. It's all really warm and washes at home (air-dry, no dryer)
posted by crush at 8:45 AM on October 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

Thanks, these are all great suggestions so far!

Re: temperature, assume "cold" = daytime highs between 15 and 40 F, car-and-errands level of outdoor exposure. Coat situation is mostly sorted, but I'd also like to be warmly and decently clothed underneath.
posted by Bardolph at 8:53 AM on October 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I live in WI and I am currently wearing my favorite winter outfit (even though its only fall.) I'm not particularly fashionable, but I always feel good in this. I'm wearing:

Dark neutral leggings
This long-sleeve ponte dress
Ankle boots
Infinity scarf, but sometimes I wear a necklace instead.

Looks presentable, feels like pajamas.
posted by juliapangolin at 9:28 AM on October 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

I was wondering when squishy socks would come back. It is truly the late 80s again.

I wear looser fitting sweater dresses and taller boots when it's cold and that way I can later under the dress. I also prefer sweatshirt material for weekends etc as its easier to care for. Lots of places make them but Boden, Gap, Athleta, Horny Toad etc are my go tos. If you have an REI or a fancy bike or running fashion store they'll have tons on stock. If I buy thick enough fleece leggings I'm good down to 10 degrees easy.
posted by fshgrl at 9:57 AM on October 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

New Englander here. I basically live in these 90 degree reflex fleece lined leggings all winter. They don't pill, they're slick on the outside so dresses or long shirts don't cling or bunch, tight knit to cut the wind, they'd ridiculously warm when they need to be but comfy to wear inside too. And really excellent quality for an Amazon product. I rotate 3 pairs and going on two winters of wear, still look new.
posted by danapiper at 11:23 AM on October 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

Mizu clearly dresses like I do in winter! Last winter I bought the same polo-neck Gap sweater dress in three different colours, wore them with fleece-lined tights and ankle boots. I looked smarter than I have ever looked at work and yet spent the whole winter feeling like I was wearing my pyjamas. I hate winter with a passion but am already impatient for it to get cool enough in my office so I can get the dresses out and snuggle in (and stop having to think about what to wear).

No sign of the same thing in Gap right now but it's a little like this but longer, like this but shorter.
posted by penguin pie at 3:08 PM on October 8, 2018

For me in the winter it's all about layering (I live in the Bay Area so really that applies all year).

Silk long underwear
Cotton, wool, or fleece lined leggings
wool socks
calf- or knee-high boots
a short sleeved A-line or fit-and flare dress of cotton, silk, or linen that hits below the knee, maybe with a belt
a cashmere hip-length sweater
wool jacket
wool scarf
some type of hat
posted by ananci at 3:15 PM on October 8, 2018

It sounds like everyone else's winter uniforms are a lot like mine. Long cardigans or an army-style khaki jacket, tunics/t-shirt dresses/comfy summer dresses with a layer underneath if necessary, tights and cute, comfy ankle boots (chelsea or brogue). I find it works well for both uni and going out and about on the weekend.

This is how I look all winter. You can dress it up a bit or grunge it up depending on where you are headed.
posted by BeeJiddy at 3:20 PM on October 8, 2018

Yup, I do something a lot like Mizu for this. Last year I had a weirdly hard time finding new sweater dresses, which was a bummer. But things are looking up again in the sweater dress department -- I was just in Uniqlo a couple days ago and noticed they've got some snuggly looking options! Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
A quick search says Modcloth has a couple as well: Option 1 Option 2
And a search for "sweater dress" on Amazon looked pretty promising too...

I like to pair my sweater dresses and fleece lined leggings with taller boots (like riding boots) so I don't have to find matching socks. Also, warmer. Like this but without the belt (because belts aren't snuggly like pajamas).
posted by somedaycatlady at 8:24 PM on October 8, 2018

OK. You said no jeans. BUT these Rockstar 24/7 jeans from Old Navy are the most amazing, flexible, comfortablest pants. They're like pajamajeans but they actually look like jeans and not like a faux-denim mess. I ordered them online without realizing they weren't regular jeans and I can't stop wearing them. I wore them to the gym; it was fantastic. I wish to purchase one hundred additional pairs.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 9:02 PM on October 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Rest assured that athleisure, at least going by NYC, is VERY much alive.
posted by colorblock sock at 10:35 PM on October 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

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