What does one wear when going out during the wintertime? The amount of mental real estate I've devoted to answering this question is borderline embarrassing. As a Michigan native who enjoys the whole spectacle of "going out," I'm not exaggerating when I say that I've spent hours thinking about this specific sartorial dilemma.
The challenge is in finding that elusive balance between legitimate warmth and just enough drama—whether in the form of strappy heels and leather pants or a prairie dress and sneakers. Considering that the excitement of "going out" is in many ways predicated on dressing outside of your standard uniform, I'd argue that the drama factor is important. There's a reason why people have an entirely separate wardrobe dedicated to this activity.
Below, I present you with the fruits of my years-long outfit analysis. These five outfit formulas and their many iterations are equal parts practical and exciting—a hallmark of any good going out ensemble in my book.
Embrace a Bold Pant
The pants are the star of this particular winter outfit formula. Rather than wearing your standard denim, bring your look to life with vibrant fabrics and funky patterns. Opt for a pair of red leather pants à la Jeanette Madsen, or go for an animal print like snakeskin or leopard.
Helmut Lang Leather Straight-Leg Pants ($1195)
& Other Stories Fitted Cashmere Turtleneck Top ($89)
Philosophy Di Lorenzo Serafini Philosophy Di Lorenzo Serafini Python Print Trench Coat - Farfetch ($733.59)
Jennifer Zeuner Jewelry Lou Medium Hoop Earrings ($154)
Aeydē Leila Leather Ankle Boots ($360)
Layer Your Dresses & Midi Skirts
This second formulation is practical in more ways than one. Rather than tossing your warm-weather dresses aside until spring, take notes from Maria Bernad and pair them with a chunky knit sweater and ankle boots. For added layers, wear a warm turtleneck and tights underneath the dress, in addition to a sweater and coat on top. This combination works with midi dresses as well.
Silk Laundry 90s Silk Slip Dress ($265)
The Reformation Virginia Boot ($0)
Acne Studios Gradient Sweater ($450)
Loeffler Randall Imitation Pearl Clip Set ($45)
Loeffler Randall Zadie Feather Circle Tote Bag ($350)
Rock a Mini Dress & Tall Boots
While this particular outfit combination may be better suited to the autumn months, the dress and boot combo is the quintessential "going out" outfit. To transition this look to winter, add warm tights and a second winter coat layered over the blazer.
Musier Paris Petula Dress ($190)
Wolford Velvet de Luxe 50 Tights ($49)
ASOS Design Leather Suit Blazer in Red ($96)
By Far Rachel Zebra Print Pony Hair Leather Purse ($400)
Loeffler Randall Gia Tall Boots ($695)
When in Doubt, Go Sheer
If you rarely deviate from the standard jeans-and-a-t-shirt outfit combo no matter what the occasion, this one's for you. Simply switch out your turtleneck or long-sleeve shirt for it's sheer counterpart and never look back—the slightly see-through fabric effectively takes this classic look from day to night.
H&M Straight-Cut Jacket ($80)
Brinker & Eliza Siren Necklace ($138)
AFRM Semi-Sheer Turtleneck ($39)
Rag & Bone/JEAN Ruth Super High-Rise Straight Jeans ($255)
Addition Elle Voglio Soft Cup Bra ($48)
Elevate Your Go-To Pantsuit
The best thing about this season's pantsuit trend? It's warm—we recommend taking full advantage of it this winter. To make this look going out-worthy, pair your favorite set with a red lip, bold jewelry, and a bra that's meant to be seen.
Pixie Market White Linen Blazer ($250)
Les Girls Les Boys Love Note Sheer Embroidered Bralette ($50)
Pixie Market White Linen Pants ($149)
Staud Kenny Bag Ivy Croc Embossed ($325)
Mejuri Large Striped Shell Necklace ($90)
This article originally appeared on Who What Wear
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