2018 Winter Wardrobe Essentials

It suddenly feels like fall/winter here in Philly, and I’m super excited to be launching 25 Days of Winter Fashion with Cyndi Spivey on Monday! We will each be styling a new winter outfit every weekday for 25 days (skipping a few days over the Thanksgiving holiday.)

In preparation for our winter style series, I thought I’d post my winter wardrobe essentials for 2018. In the past, I’ve done this later in the season, but I thought it made sense to post before I start posting winter outfits.

Everyone’s winter wardrobe essentials will vary based on climate, but I’m going to write this post assuming we’re talking about cold weather climates. If you’re in a warmer climate, my Fall Wardrobe Essentials might be more relevant for you.

As you build your winter wardrobe, I also encourage you to take into consideration your lifestyle and personal needs. I spend most days at home, so my personal winter wardrobe essentials are heavier on casual wear and lighter on dressier styles, but I still try to make sure I have clothes for any occasion that might crop up so I’m not scrambling when I get a last minute invite.

When I’m putting together a post like this, I usually start with shoes. Shoes are the item in my closet that changes most dramatically with each each season. For example, I will wear short sleeved tees and white jeans all year round, but I definitely put away my sandals and open toe booties and pull out my snow boots when cold weather arrives.

So let’s get right to it! Here’s my list of 2018 Winter Wardrobe Essentials, and I’ll also talk about what styles and colors are trending in each category.

2018 Winter Wardrobe Essentials

1. Tall Fashion Boots

I love booties in the fall, and I still wear them some in the wintertime (see #3) but I find myself gravitating more often to my tall boots because they’re so much warmer. I like both knee-high boots and over-the-knee boots, and I try to have some that are more casual and others for dressier looks. I am just linking a few examples, but there are so many possibilities out there. Depending on where you like to shop, you should be able to find similar styles for any budget. Also, for winter, remember that suede isn’t very good in messy weather. Leather will be much more versatile if you live in a climate that gets much rain and snow, unless you buy suede that is weather proof. Brands like Blondo and La Canadienne do a great job with weather proof fashion boots.

Style Tip >> When tucking pants into knee-high and OTK boots, I prefer to wear legging jeans — especially with the tighter OTK boot styles. You definitely don’t want your jeans bunching up at the top of your boots.

2. Snow Boots or Rain Boots

If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, you probably want snow boots in your wardrobe. I admit that I haven’t always had snow boots because a good leather riding boot can be worn in almost any condition you would need a snow boot for, but snow boots definitely keep you warmer than riding boots. If you’re in a warmer climate that doesn’t get much snow, rain boots would certainly suffice. When it’s cold, you can wear thick socks, or better yet, Smartwool inside.

3. Ankle Boots

While my ankle boots tend to take backseat to my tall boots during the colder months, there’s still a place for ankle boots in the wintertime. Ankle boots are great because of their versatility. They still keep your feet out of the mud and the muck, but you can wear them with just about every style of jeans and pants. If you prefer a bootcut or straight leg pant, you can wear them over top of your ankle boots. The sock issue gets tricky with booties and skinny jeans in cold weather, but you can wear socks with some styles. I try to match the sock to the boot so it isn’t as noticeable. These are my favorite socks to wear with ankle boots.

4. Suede or Velvet Pumps

These aren’t as practical as the boots, but suede and velvet pumps are trending this year, and I love to wear pumps with jeans and a nice sweater to go out to dinner as long as the weather isn’t too messy. (I did that last night!) A stiletto is always in style, but right now the rounded toe/block heel is trending, which is awesome because they’re much more practical and easy to walk in. I realize that not everyone can wear heels, but if you can, you should!

5. Skinny Jeans

I realize that not everyone looks best in skinny jeans, but I feel that they’re pretty much a necessity if you want to wear jeans with your tall boots. (If you’re trying to balance out a carrot or a pear shape, wear a bulkier boot or shoe with your skinny jeans and wear a lighter color on top.) Or of course, you can also wear your tall boots with skirts and dresses. As I said above, I prefer the legging style jeans and pants because they’re easier to fit inside my tall boots. Also, another big trend this season is velvet jeans. Velvet is everywhere! I think velvet jeans are fun for holiday outfits, and I definitely plan to style a pair during 25 Days of Winter Fashion.

6. Classic Wool Coat

A classic wool coat will take you anywhere — from the office to dinner, from the grocery store to the shopping mall, and anywhere in between. You can throw it on over jeans and a casual sweater and look instantly chic, and you can also wear it over your favorite workwear looks. I even wore my camel reefer coat over a cocktail dress to my husband’s office holiday party, although I was wishing at that very moment that it was grey or black instead of camel, but it didn’t really matter. (I noticed there were other camel coats hanging in the coat room.) I also have a shorter red one that is fun for a change from the drab neutrals that tend to prevail in our outerwear choices.

7. Puffer Coat

A puffer coat basically takes you anywhere a wool coat can’t. Just make sure your puffer coat is waterproof, so it will hold up to all kinds of inclement weather. Whether it is short or long and lightweight or heavy duty depends on your climate and lifestyle. I have a shorter, lightweight quilted jacket for milder weather and a long, heavy duty puffer coat for the coldest days.


8. Sweaters

This sort of goes without saying, but I can’t really write a winter wardrobe essentials post without including sweaters, can I??? I think every woman should have at least one cashmere sweater in her wardrobe. They’re not as spendy as they used to be, and you can usually find good sales during holiday season. Chunky sweaters are popular right now, and turtlenecks are having a moment, which is nice because they’re so practical for those of us living in colder climates. I’m a pullover kind of girl, but cardigans are also trending right now.

9. Sweater Dress

I love a sweater dress in the wintertime. Pair it with tights and boots or booties for a look that’s chic and effortless. Wear it to the office, to church, on a dinner date, or for lunch with the girls.

10. Cozy Scarf

Blanket scarves are on their way out, but more traditional scarves are here to stay. I, for one, am very happy about this! The big blanket scarf draped over the front kerchief-style really isn’t that practical, but I am all for draping a long, cozy scarf around my neck when I’m outside. Infinity scarves are even easier still, and they take all guesswork out of styling.

11. Winter Hat/Beanie

I love it when a trend is as practical as it is cute. How I lived my whole life without wearing hats in the wintertime is beyond me. I wore a few of the pompom beanies last year, and they’re still trending. Another popular hat trend is the newsboy hat, and I still see a lot of fashion bloggers wearing the wool floppy hats, but I don’t think I’m cool enough to pull off either of those looks. If you are, then definitely consider adding one to your winter wardrobe.

12. Quilted Vest

Ever since I discovered the excursion quilted down vest at J.Crew, I’ve been sold on this trend. I love having an option in my closet for days that don’t really require a coat, but you definitely need to wear more than just a sweater. This vest fits well and doesn’t add bulk or do anything strange over the bosoms. I have it in red and black, and I’m debating the navy. J.Crew Factory has a less expensive version here.

13. Tech Gloves

My fingers freeze in the wintertime, so I always need gloves, but I want to be able to access my iPhone so I have several pairs of tech-friendly gloves. I keep them in a basket in my office, which is right by the front door, so I can grab the ones that best compliment my outfit and walk right out the door.

14. Good Quality Tights

True confessions, I hate tights, but sometimes they’re a necessity. I highly recommend Spanx tights because they do double-duty as shapewear, plus they’re nice and thick and opaque.

15. Neutral Carryall

You really need this all year ’round, but I felt like this list wasn’t complete without a go-to handbag. I will always prefer a tote for my go-to handbag, although I also like hobo and satchel styles. I’m all for having a few colorful handbags in my closet, but I think your go-to bag should be a neutral. Consider grey, cognac, brown, or black, depending on what colors you tend to wear the most.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! What would you add to this list? I realize it will vary a bit for everyone, but I think this is a pretty good place to start.

There are a TON of great sales going on right now, so hopefully you can take advantage of some of those as you round out your winter wardrobe!

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