Dressing for a winter wedding poses a bit of a challenge for wedding guests; how to stay warm while still looking appropriate? No one wants to be so cold that they can't enjoy the festivities, yet you also don't want to be burdened with bulky layers. That's why you have to be strategic with your dress and accessories.
"To ensure you’re able to celebrate the happy couple as comfortably as possible, dressing weather-appropriate is key," says Amberly Reese, styling team coach at Stitch Fix. "When choosing what to wear, keep in mind the weather, the location of the event, and the dress code."
Meet the Expert
Reese recommends starting with a dress or jumpsuit in winter appropriate fabrics and shades, like velvet in jewel tones. Once you have your base layer figured out, you can add certain accessories for some extra warmth and formality. Think touch-screen gloves like this leather pair from Nordstrom or a fluffy faux fur stole from Lulus.
Here, Reese shares her top pieces that will keep your chic and cozy at your next winter wedding.
Vero Moda Brushed Eddora Coat
Sizes: XS-22W | Colors: Camel | Materials: Acrylic, Polyester, Viscose, Nylon
"Choosing a winter coat that doesn’t look like it’s heading to a totally different event is key," says Reese. "Make sure the silhouette and color is on the same level of formality as the rest of your look."
Reese recommends a long belted coat like this one from Vero Moda because it's both sleek and warm. You want to avoid wearing white, so going for a black or camel colored coat is a safe bet, and you can wear it beyond the wedding.
Price at the time of publish: $169
Sheertex Classic Sheer Rip-Resist Tights
Sizes: XS-3X | Colors: Black | Materials: Nylon, Polyethylene, Spandex
"Tights will always be a classic and elegant way to elevate your look (and provide additional warmth if attending a winter wedding)," says Reese. "This simple wardrobe staple is perfect for guests who opt for shorter cocktail dresses and can also be worn underneath a long gown to add another layer in the cold." Look for a pair with some stretch, like these from Sheertex, so that they will stay comfortable and resist tears as you dance the night away. For formal occasions like a wedding, Reese recommends a sheer black or nude tone to give your legs a glamorous gleam.
Price at the time of publish: $35
Vince Camuto Ketrinda Heel
Sizes: 5-12 | Colors: 4 | Materials: Leather
"For those festive occasions like a winter wedding or holiday party, a closed-toe heel or pump will keep your outfit formal while protecting your feet from the frigid air," says Reese. "Some of my go-to's when dressing clients include black heels like these from Vince Camuto for a chic and sophisticated look."
Price at the time of publish: $71
Touch Screen Gloves
Nordstrom Cashmere Lined Leather Touchscreen Gloves
Sizes: 6-9 | Colors: Black, Brown | Materials: Leather, Cashmere
Frigid fingers are a total buzz kill when trying to capture those precious moments on your phone. With these touch screen gloves, you can snap away on your smartphone while protecting your hands. The sleek leather is formal enough to top off your look while the cashmere lining is extra toasty.
Price at the time of publish: $99
Lulus Demure and Dreamy Faux Fur Stole
Sizes: One Size | Colors: Black, Pink | Materials: Polyester
If your outfit is still missing something, a faux fur stole like this one from Lulus can be the perfect finishing touch. Not only does it make your look more luxe, but it also shelters you from the cold, especially if you decided to forgo sleeves. Drape it over the shoulders or use the hook and eye closure to clasp it in the front.
Price at the time of publish: $48
What to Look for in Winter Wedding Guest Outfits
"For your outfit base, materials such as Italian lace, satin, silk, taffeta, and velvet are heavier fabrics that will provide additional warmth — and comfort — while still being formal," says Reese. Leather and faux fur, like Lulus Demure and Dreamy Faux Fur Stole, also feel right for the occasion.
"Once you’ve chosen your fabric, making sure the colors are seasonally appropriate will hit home the formality," says Reese. "Pieces in darker shades of green, blue, burgundy, or something with sparkles offer a seasonal option that is perfect for a winter wedding." Coming in both black and emerald green, Vince Camuto Ketrinda Heel goes with whatever shade you choose.
Another way to stay warm is to go for longer dress silhouettes, like a midi or maxi dress with sleeves. Reese says jumpsuits also are a great option when you want to dress up and stay warm. The same goes with your coat. A longer length like Vero Moda Brushed Eddora Coat keeps out the cold while looking more formal.
Can I wear a shorter dress to a winter wedding?
Though Reese recommends a midi or maxi dress for the added warmth, you can wear a cocktail dress if that better suits your style and dress code of the wedding. If you opt for a shorter hemline, she suggests wearing tights, like Sheertex Classic Sheer Rip-Resist Tights, underneath.
Do I have to match my coat to my dress?
If you rather wear a coat you already own rather than going out to buy a new one for this occasion, keep a few things in mind. First, consider how much time you'll spend in the coat. If your coat will be spending most of it's time in coat check, then it doesn't have to perfectly match. But if you'll be taking photos or mingling outside, you may want to put more though into your outerwear. You also want to make sure the coat isn't white.
Can I wear a hat to a winter wedding?
Wearing a hat to a wedding is totally acceptable as a female wedding guest. For chilly ceremonies, Reese recommends a wool beret, which you can easily take off without ruining your entire hairdo.
Why Trust Brides
Emily Cieslak is an Assistant Commerce editor, and covers both bridal and everyday fashion. Having lived in New York City and London, she knows all about the challenge of dressing up and staying warm in the winter. For expert advice, she interviewed Amberly Reese, the styling team coach at Stitch Fix, a personal style service for men and women.