The holidays have been here for a minute, and if you aren’t already in the midst of festive mayhem, then I’m sure it’s about to sneak up on you. (Like, tomorrow!) Between the parties, planning, and all the presents to buy, our plates are full. And with all the activity comes a packed social calendar. Sure, it’s a lot to manage, but I’m not going to lie—after a few years of engaging solely online, I’m more than a little excited to get dressed up. Thankfully, with a solid capsule wardrobe of heavy-hitting winter basics, your cold-weather mood board is well within reach.
The Best Cozy and Elegant Winter Basics
Our winter basics are those you continue to go back to on a seasonal basis. And sure, in a world of “core” after “core” trend, the idea of finding a timeless piece can feel like a needle-in-a-haystack situation. But don’t worry, no matter the occasion you’re dressing for, these winter basics have you covered.
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Every holiday season merits a weekend day full of catching on your holiday gifting list and connecting with friends over a cuppa. For these festive occasions, the focus is on comfort while still incorporating pieces into your ensemble that guarantee compliments. A tailored blazer, cozy but flattering pant, and statement accessories complete the formula. It’s easygoing while still garnering a solid spot on your feed.
The trick to selecting a timeless blazer is opting for one that moves with the seasons. Your best bet is to go for structure, but with enough give that you can layer dresses, sweaters, and the like underneath. It’s the easiest, chicest addition to any closet.
The Tailored Pant
IYKYK: Quince’s ultra-stretch ponte pant is a study in blending comfort with style. And because the brand is known for offering quality pieces at an accessible price, you’re welcome to select as many colors as you’d like (the burgundy and olive are my other two faves). But as far as pants that do everything for you—nothing beats Cartolina’s Hallie Pant. I’m wearing the “saddle” colorway above, and I can say with certainty: I’ve never loved a pant more. The high rise and elongating slim leg is beyond flattering—and yes, they do feel like yoga pants. (Tip: these run big, you’ll want to size down.) Your wardrobe of winter basics isn’t complete without them.
The Understated Statement Necklace
It’s a paradox, but true—we all need a necklace that completes the outfit while subtly making its presence known. I’m wearing the Banana Republic cubic zirconia piece above and love its classic, just-sparkly-enough appeal. Or, create a little more interest in your arsenal of winter basics by opting for a layered piece that still seamlessly ties in with whatever you have on.
The Statement Bag
‘Tis the season for top-handled bags. Mini, but mighty, these statement bags don’t simply make space for the essentials, but also offer a pop of interest for any look. When I’m not pairing my favorite Melie Bianco Cici bag with this exact blazer + pant + necklace formula, I love making it the grounding piece of a monochrome white or black fit. Streamlined and chic.
What to Wear: The Casual Family Gathering
The key to dressing for family hangs is to go for an elevated comfy look. You don’t want to look like you didn’t try, but you also want to be comfortable enough to roll up your sleeves in the kitchen, play on the floor with little ones, and have something flexible enough to win at a competitive game of charades. Consider these your go-to options for an effortlessly cool look.
The Chunky Sweater
If you have a curvy body type, my recommendation would be to go with a cropped option to define your waistline or to pair it with a high-waisted pant while doing a casual front tuck. This lets you show off your shape even while adding a little volume from the chunky knit.
The Perfect Jeans
When it comes to finding the perfect jeans, trust that with a higher price tag comes everything you’re looking for: comfort, quality, and a beyond-flattering look. The good news is that you don’t need anything more than a few go-to pairs for endless outfit combinations. I love a high-waisted bootcut in a darker wash for a universally perfect fit. Again, I’m giving you classic pieces that will never go out of style, so you can feel good about investing in your favorite.
The Cozy Slide
These Jenni Kayne mules went viral for a reason. They’re the perfect laid-back but still elevated alternative to a classic heel. With the pointed heel and elongated shape, they’re flattering for anyone and pair perfectly with every outfit. Cozy slides are a simple way to upgrade your cozy-casual Christmas outfit. Or, if you really want to lean into the coziness this season, the UGG Tazz slipper is a no-brainer.
What to Wear: Christmas Eve at Home
If you run hot and can’t commit to a sweater indoors, cardigans are a solid solution. Layer it with a silk tank top or over a—yep, you guessed it!—slip dress. You can also roll with it and commit with only a bra underneath. Either way, a cardigan is a win-win. Go with a longer cardigan if you want to keep it comfy, or try a cropped style to show off or create the look of curves.
The Silk Skirt
If you’re not yet sold on the silk dress, give the silk skirt a try. It’s an easy yet comfortable way to elevate your look at home without sacrificing comfort. It comes in a plethora of lengths, but my go-to is the mini. I like to pull out the mini for a night out and keep it classy with a slightly longer hemline for dinner with the family. It looks good with a chunky boot or delicate heel, too. You can keep a slip skirt in your rotation all year, but it’ll be a standout during the holidays.
The Hair Bow
Even Pinterest predicted it—bows are everywhere. They’re the perfect holiday accessory, and the good news is that you’ll be able to keep yours pinned tight throughout the next year. I have The Kate Bow in both black and cream. It’s the perfect Gossip Girl moment to literally tie together any outfit. (The collection of hair accessories was made in collaboration with NYC-based entrepreneur Kira Jones—seriously, her winter basics styling is iconic.)
What to Wear: Festive Holiday Parties
When it comes to holiday parties, there are a few materials and textures that will instantly put you in the mood to celebrate. I love the impact of velvet-everything. It goes beyond monochromatic and creates an instant, luxurious appeal. Make a statement in a pants-and-blazer combo or go classic in a midi dress. No matter how you incorporate it into your holiday dressing, you’re sure to look put together in velvet.
Nothing says the holidays quite like velvet—it can instantly dress up any outfit. One of my favorite velvet pairings is with satin or silk. The juxtaposition of the two fabrics creates such a luxurious vibe. Accessories are always an easy way to add some velvet to your wardrobe, too.
A Fur Topper
Go luxe on luxe with velvet and faux fur—or keep things *relatively* simple by making it your outfit’s go-to statement piece. However you choose to style your faux fur coat, there’s no denying: the material is everywhere this season. And thankfully, there are now plenty of options for beautiful styles at accessible prices.
All that glitters isn’t just gold—it’s also silver, rose gold, and champagne. In a world of metallics, you will always shine. With metallics, I like to follow the rule that less is more. They can be intense in a good way, so use them sparingly.
What to Wear: A Cozy Holiday Morning
For me, holiday mornings are all about keeping it comfortable. I’m talking soft pajamas, warm robes, and elevated loungewear. Whether you’re the matching pajama kind of family or you like to lean more luxe, you can always come back to these pieces. One thing is for sure: you’re bound to create special memories to look back on all while being extra cozy. This lets you focus on what matters most: the magic and joy of your family.
The Winter-White Set
Don’t get me wrong, I love matching sets in all colors and prints (particularly if you’re coordinating with the fam on Christmas Day). But nothing says classic quite like a winter-white set. Whoever called white after Labor Day a fashion faux-pas certainly never encountered the captivating impact of a luminous sweater-and-pants (or skirt!) pairing. Bonus: The look is elevated enough to take out of the house—but you’ll still feel like you’re wearing pajamas.
If a soft set doesn’t hold up to all you have planned on the big day, let me provide an alternative: elevated activewear. My family has long been the type to venture out for a snowy hike once the presents are opened and we’ve drained the coffee pot. If that sounds familiar, buttery-soft leggings and an oversized half-zip are the way to go. Bonus: If movement is at the top of your list of 2024 intentions, a cute workout set always makes keeping the commitment easier.
Of course, nothing completes a Christmas-at-home ensemble quite like the coziest socks or slippers. Thankfully, brands that do basics to a tee like SKIMS understand that just because we’re prioritizing comfort doesn’t mean we don’t also want to look cute. With the options below, both are 100% possible.
This article was last updated on December 2, 2022.