How to Wear Dresses in Winter

Layering Dresses for Cold Weather - How to Wear Thermal Tights

Growing up in California and rarely wearing dresses, it took a trip across the world to learn the tricks to layering under dresses for cold weather, but now I’ve got it down pretty well! So here are my tips and products for wearing dresses in Winter!

When we went to London the holiday season before last, we met up with one of my friends from grad school in Stratford-upon-Avon. Though it didn’t rain much during our trip, highs were in the 40s and breezes weren’t uncommon. I arrived in my 50,000 layers, including my huge puffy coat and knee-high boots.

My friend, accustomed to British weather, showed up in a dress, leggings, a jacket, and short boots. I know I can be a bit of a wimp, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around how she wasn’t literally freezing.

Her secret, she told me (besides acclimatization – say that 3 times fast), was good old-fashioned layering and thermal tights. THERMAL TIGHTS! I’d never heard of such a thing and, obviously, my interest was piqued.

Now with a bit of research, here is a stylish guide on layering dresses for cold weather so you can wear dresses in winter too.

I don’t know that I can do 40 degrees with winds, but I’m sashaying my way closer as I start outfit planning for Scotland

Button UP Fall Dress | UGG Boots (similar heeled black suede boots)
Thermal Tights | Tory Burch Crossbody | Givenchy Sunnies

Layering Dresses for Cold Weather - How to Wear Thermal Tights

Layering Dresses in Winter – Your Top Half

Jackets are amazing, but you have to keep your core covered and warm before all else. A tight tank top AND a good long sleeve t shirt, though basic, do wonders. See my favorite layering shirts (tanks and tees) here.

A word to the wise on those long sleeve shirts too, crew neck over v neck or scoop neck – you’d be amazed how important it is to keep that small patch covered! Wearing thermal long sleeves are an option as well, though I think the two layers do nicely!

These layering tips also work well for chic sweatshirt outfit ideas, wearing a jumpsuit in winter, any kind of linen in winter ensembles, as well as various takes on all kinds of stylish winter layering!

Layering Dresses for Cold Weather - How to Wear Thermal Tights

Layering Dresses for Cold Weather – Your Bottom Half

So. Let’s get wild here. Two things. First, knee high socks. Second, thermal tights or leggings. If there’s one thing that will surely freeze in cold weather, it’s my feet. Getting warm, cozy socks is a must.

Another part of that, however, is getting socks that go up to your knees for another layer of warmth on your lower leg. You’ll thank me later, I promise.

Socks are a type of lingerie as well, so make sure you know how to wash lingerie.

Layering Dresses for Cold Weather - How to Wear Thermal Tights

Next. Thermal tights and leggings. As it turns out, the options for thermal tights and leggings aren’t as extensive here in the US (nor are they readily available).

When you search for thermal tights, you mostly get workout pants for runners and cyclists. Many of these are available in plain black, but you have to watch out for the logo placement depending on what you’ll be wearing with them.

If leggings or tights have a logo, just make sure the logo is too high to see. Because I so rarely wear dresses above my knee, this placement is fine for me, but any shorter dress lovers out there may find it to be in the way.

Looking for more sizes? This review on the best plus size leggings and activewear will help – my beloved Nordstrom carries many options!

Layering Dresses for Cold Weather - How to Wear Thermal Tights

Every winter I now look online to find a link to thermal tights to share here and it hasn’t gotten any easier over the years.

Pretty Polly was the first brand I found that made thermal tights – at 200 denier (more below). I found them on Amazon. They are currently available in plus sizes. If you’re size isn’t there, you can keep checking back.

Stocking/Tight thicknesses are measured in denier. A standard pair of nylons are probably about 30-50 denier. These tights measure in at 200, so you can imagine the thickness of them.

I did find these 200 denier tights online. And Calzedonia (who has an eco-stockings line) and sells tights and nylons in a wide variety of styles offers a 150 denier tight – better sourced and materials but not quite as warm.

One major upside to tights over workout pants is also that you can layer these under pants on days when you aren’t wearing a dress – jeans and sleek jogger pants alike! That’s a huge plus for anybody who’s apt to wear jeans 97% of the time – me!

The magic equation for layering dresses for cold weather (and jeans for that matter) = thermal tights + knee high socks. And of course knee high boots and a warm cup of coffee or tea don’t hurt either!

Check out this other black tights outfit with a shorter dress!

Layering Dresses for Cold Weather - How to Wear Thermal Tights

Dress Outfit Ideas

Love dresses? This long sleeve denim dress outfit is also great for those seasons and perfect for these layering tips. You can also try getting more wear out of shirt dresses by using it as outerwear. See this shirt dress outfit for inspiration!

For warmer months, check out these sustainable black dresses, these white dresses for summer, this off the shoulder dress outfit that is comfortable and so chic, as well as these tips for how to style a simple maxi dress!

Winter Dresses

{Photography by Emily Provansal}

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