11 Tips for Layering Your Winter Clothes Without Adding Bulk

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Sweaters! Jackets! Boots! Scarves! There is no end to the number of comfy, cozy items we will put on our bodies to stay warm in winter. But, alas, adding more layers means you’re more likely to star resembling the Michelin Man. Or so we thought. Turns out, there are lots of chic ways to layer your winter clothes without adding bulk or turning you into an amorphous blob. Read on for the 11 best tips and tricks we’ve learned for staying both warm and stylish, no matter how low the temperature goes.

28 Outfits to Wear This February That Will Break You Out of Your Winter Rut

A woman wears a black turtleneck under a button up shirt and blazer
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1. Make Use of Thin Turtlenecks

Stock up on these tissue-thin tees to wear under anything and everything. And while you can never go wrong with classic black, white or gray, we love how a patterned version pops under a colorful sweater or velvet dress.

Shop similar styles: J.Crew Tissue Turtleneck ($40; $31); Madewell Larsen Blazer ($178); Rails Ellis Button-Up Shirt ($168); Abercrombie & Fitch Pencil Skirt ($70); Vince Camuto Caseyl Boots ($229; $92)

A woman wears a white silk scarf knotted around her neck with a gray beanie cap and matching sweater
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2. Wrap a Silk Scarf Around Your Neck

Rather than knotting your favorite silk scarf like a bandana, try wrapping it as many times as you comfortably can around your neck before knotting the ends together. This will prevent any gusts of chilly air from sneaking down your collar and has a French woman-vibe that’s cool enough to continue sporting once you get indoors.

Shop similar styles: Tory Burch Silk Scarf ($148); Everlane Alpaca Hat ($60) and SuperFuzz Alpaca Sweater ($200; $150); Elie Tahari Merrit Pants ($345)

A woman wears a beige cardigan under a black blazer
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3. Swap Your Button-Up Shirts for Cozy Cardigans

Rather than pile a thick sweater on under your work blazer, opt for a Jackie O-approved cardigan instead. It will keep you just as warm as a crew-neck pullover but with a more flattering fit. Wear them tucked into jeans, layered under a denim jacket or with a pleated midi skirt.

Shop similar styles: Kule Sinclair Cardigan ($348); ASOS New Perfect Blazer ($57); Reformation Fletcher Pants ($158); Nisolo All-Day Clogs ($180)

A woman wears a denim patchwork shirt under a black puffer coat
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4. Or a Denim or Faux-Leather Button-Up Shirt

If you want to maintain the look of an actual blouse, swap that crisp cotton button-up for one in denim or faux-leather. Both materials are significantly warmer than cotton, linen or silk, and tend to have looser silhouettes than clingy cardigans, if that’s more your style.

Shop similar styles: Good American Patchwork Button-Up Shirt ($155; $109); Halfdays Georgie Puffer Jacket ($495); 7 For All Mankind Easy Boy Bootcut Jeans ($228); New Balance 327 Sneakers ($110)

Eva Chen wears a large beige turleneck under an orange wrap coat
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

5. Wear a Chunky Turtleneck Sweater in Place of a Bulky Scarf

An oversize turtleneck sweater is every bit as warm as a wool scarf, but requires no effort to figure out exactly how to tie it or how many loops around your neck is the right number. Plus, you now have one less item to keep track of throughout the day.

Shop similar styles: Everlane Alpaca Oversized Turtleneck Sweater ($175); Victoria Beckham Quilted Coat ($1,850; $555); Agolde Lana Jeans ($198); Journee Collection Silvy Booties ($100; $70)

A woman wears wide leg jeans with a cropped beige coat
Raimonda Kulikauskiene/Getty Images

6. Layer Tights or Leggings Under Wide-Leg Jeans

The current trend of baggy or wide-leg denim styles is actually much better for winter layering than skinny or straight-leg jeans. The reason? They have ample room to layer tights or thin leggings underneath to give your legs bonus protection from the cold without causing any weird bunching around your hips or knees.

Shop similar styles: Plush Fleece-Lined Tights ($35); Lucky Brand Hoodie Balaclava ($50; $10); Theory Faux Fur Peacoat ($595; $351); Dr. Denim Echo Wide-Leg Jeans ($100); Free People Sienna Ankle Boots ($198)

winter layering ideas puffer vest
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7. Opt for a Vest Instead of (or in Addition to) a Coat

One of the never-ending struggles of winter is figuring out how to fit your sweater into your coat sleeves without totally restricting blood flow or having your knit ride all the way up to your bicep. But a vest will keep your core warm and it also gives you the opportunity to show off all those statement-sleeves. And if it’s truly frigid out, adding a puffy vest over your usual thin wool coat will bring double the warmth without limiting the range of motion of your arms.

Shop similar styles: Quince Puffer Vest ($100); Remy x Revolve Brooks Coat ($150; $105); L.L.Bean Cotton Turtleneck ($33; $20); Cider Straight-Leg Pants ($28); Thursday Boot Co. Heartbreaker Boots ($195)

A woman wears a brown wool coat with a patterned scarf draped over the shoulders
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8. Drape a Scarf Over Your Shoulders

Whether you’re relying on a chunky turtleneck or a wool scarf to keep your neck and chin warm, adding another large square scarf over your shoulders is a great way to dress up a basic coat while providing extra wind protection on your back and shoulders.

Shop similar styles: Longchamp Roseau Check Print Scarf ($340); Calvin Klein Walker Wool Coat ($400; $160); Venus Houndstooth Turtleneck Sweater ($59; $40); ALO Accolade Sweatpants ($118); Tory Burch Flemming Bag ($498); UGG Platform Mini Boots ($160)

A woman wears a brown cropped puffer coat over a long gray trench coat
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9. Try Two Sleek Jackets Instead of One Chunky Coat

Think outside the box when it comes to layering (and fighting the cold) by sporting a cropped puffer over a long trench or duster. On their own, each one might not be enough to get you warmly through your morning commute, but together they’ll provide just as much protection as your most aggressive winter puffer, just with a much cooler, more flattering finish.

Shop similar styles: Apparis Jemma Puffer Coat ($395); Banana Republic Twill Trench Coat ($220; $132); Alex Mill Zip-Front Jumpsuit ($225); Unisa Maren Boots ($89; $55)

A woman wears a white coat, yellow pants and black gloves, scarf and boots
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10. Using Contrasting Colors to Break Up Your ‘Fit

If your coat is a lighter hue, opt for dark accessories (hats, gloves, scarves, etc.). Same goes for pants or dresses that peek out from underneath your topper—if your coat is black, swap those dark navy work trousers for a yellow, light gray or even plaid version, instead. A mix of shades that range from light to dark will help break up even the puffiest, most oversize winter ensembles.

Shop similar styles: & Other Stories Fringed Wool Blanket Scarf ($89); lululemon Tech Gloves ($52; $29); DISSH Matilda Coat ($300); GAP Chunky Cardigan Sweater ($90; $65); Cider Wide-Leg Pants ($28); Stuart Weitzman Avenue 75 Boots ($650; $259)

A woman wearing a cozy cardigan, floral midi dress, white belt and brown knee-high boots
Christian Vierig/Getty Images

11. When in Doubt, Add a Belt

So, you’ve got your tissue-thin turtleneck, a flowy midi dress, a chunky cardigan and a pair of slouchy knee-high boots, and now you’re worried it’s all just a bit too much. Rather than pare down and brace yourself for the cold, pull out one of the oldest, most flattering style tricks in the book and cinch your waist with a contrasting belt.

Shop similar styles: Free People Cardigan Sweater ($78); Lulus Floral Dress ($72); B-Low the Belt Milla Belt ($140); Aerosoles Micah Boots ($140)

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Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...