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How to Stay Warm in a Formal Dress

Whether you’re attending a wedding, corporate gala, or just heading to work in a cold climate, it’s important to take steps to keep yourself warm. In as much as you’d want to look the most stylish or the best-dressed guest at the event, freezing your buff off is not something you’d want.

Luckily, you can still stay warm without giving up on style.

To stay warm in a formal dress, use functional accessories that add a touch of your personality to your outfit. Dress-layering is also a great way to stay warm while adding visual interest to your dress. 

The key is striking the right balance between style and warmth. Here are some tips and tricks to make finding that middle ground a bit easier and fun.

How to Stay Warm in a Formal Dress


This is probably the oldest and most obvious trick in the book. There are so many ways you can use accessories to your advantage.


A hat can keep you warm and stylish at the same time, but only if it’s worn correctly. While beanies are great at keeping your head and ears toasty all winter long, they don’t really go well with formal dresses.

However, you can still pull off a sophisticated formal look with a beanie if you know how to style it.

Consider a cloche, fedora, or floppy hat. These hats are not only acceptable in the formal dress spectrum, but also make a fashion statement with class. What’s more, they are warm enough to protect your head from the harsh cold.

How to Stay Warm in a Formal Dress

The trick is to find one that compliments your outfit and face shape. If you have a round face, for example, a hat with the opposite features such as angular works best. It’s also equally important to think about your hairstyle when choosing your hat.

Short brim cloche or fedora hat is great for short hair while wide brim fedora hats are perfect for long hair.

Remember, the hat does not have to match the dress. A little contrast can still look good.

If you’re not a headwear kind of person, opt for something simple, comfortable, and that suits your style and personality. It’s also essential to find a hat that fits, or else you’ll look messy.


Scarves are essential cold-weather accessories. Many people find them both practical and stylish. It’s easy to see why because there are so many scarf styles. This, of course, makes it easier to wear them with different types of formal dresses from off-shoulder to maxi.

The most common scarf styles that can keep you warm on those chilly days and still bring elegance to your formal ensemble include a blanket, infinity, shawl, and pashmina scarf.


Gloves can add fun and fashionable edge to formal outfits. While they come in different styles, you can never wrong with a leather glove. They are great at keeping your hands warm no matter how low the temperature drops.

For a fashionable look, the color of the glove should match with something you are wearing like a coat, hat, etc.

Dress Layering Under and Over

Everybody knows the key to staying warm in cold weather is layering; there’s no science behind it—however, many struggle to add those layers without looking messy or like a dumpling. While layering isn’t synonymous with bulk, it can be tricky to layer a formal dress. 

Don’t worry, we’ll show you how to layer like a pro. 

Camisole/Tank Top

These two base layers are classic styles for layering. Wearing a camisole/tank top beneath a long-sleeved shirt or turtleneck adds a layer of warmth without making you look bulky.

While often worn during summer months, a tank top can be worn as a shirt substitute as long as it doesn’t show. However, most women opt for a camisole top as it creates a smooth layer as opposed to a tank top, which has thick straps and neckline.


Turtlenecks, without a doubt, are a wardrobe essential. Although it’s often perceived as a 90s theme style by some, a turtleneck is always going to be in style. It was more of a casual style back then, but now it’s sleeker and more sophisticated.

So, it can be worn for formal events and save you from having to freeze in your evening gown. Besides being warm, it can add some polish to your formal look and keep you comfortable throughout the day or evening. 

Its versatility means that it can be paired with pretty much anything from a sleeveless jersey or floaty maxi dress to a slip dress and still look effortlessly stylish. Just pay attention to the neckline, fitting, and fabric.

How to Stay Warm in a Formal Dress

Smooth and lightweight body fitting turtlenecks appear more polished and formal than loose-fitting chunky styles.

This excellent layering piece can as well eliminate the need for a coat or jacket if it’s not too cold. You can add a statement necklace or earrings to finish off your look.

It’s always worth having a black, navy, and grey turtleneck, whether you only wear monochrome or not. These neutrals are flattering, reliable, and pair well with almost all colors. So you can never go wrong with them if you’re clueless about matching colors in your formal outfits.

Faux Fur Coat

A faux fur coat is a must-have wardrobe item for winter. This outwear can make you look chic while keeping you toasty and cozy all winter long.

Many young people are opting for fur coats instead of trench coats because they are fun and add a touch of class and sophistication to any outfit. What’s more, fur coats look good with evening gowns and cocktail dresses.

While the coats bring a luxe elegance, it’s important to consider the color and style.

How to Stay Warm in a Formal Dress

For a formal look, go for long or knee-length coats. This doesn’t mean you should shy away from short coats. Short fur coats can actually work very well with short or mid-length dresses and heels. Over-the-knee boots are also great if it’s frigid.

When it comes to color and print, it depends on what you’re more interested in; practicality or making a statement. Keep in mind traditional neutrals like brown, beige, black, and olive green are easy to style and look more formal.

If the faux fur coat is too much for you, go for a classic trench coat.

Leather Jacket 

Besides being stylish and luxurious, leather jackets can go with just about any dress. What’s even better? They are great insulators. These jackets trap body heat and prevent it from escaping.

If the temperature outside is below freezing, go for a thicker or padded biker leather jacket. It will fend off the frosty winds and still be comfy and look stylish.

How to Stay Warm in a Formal Dress

Another alternative is to go for an oversized jacket. This way, you can wear turtleneck or knitwear under it without looking chunky.

Fleece Lined Tights

Tights are the way to go when wearing a dress in chilly weather. But instead of the regular tights, try the ones lined with fleece. They are super soft and will keep you toasty and comfortable without adding bulk.

A nice over-the-knee pair of boots can also be a great addition to your look if it’s really cold.

The beauty of layering is that you can add or take off a layer or two as conditions change. But remember, layering is not just about keeping you warm. It’s about protecting you against elements, keeping you warm and dry without inhibiting your mobility.

Wrap Up

Contrary to what many people think, staying warm in a formal dress without compensating your style is relatively easy. It’s just a matter of smart layering, investing in accessories, and keeping your outfit balanced.


  • Alanna Greene

    Alanna is an avid traveler who lives in Michigan. In addition to writing for Temperature Master, he also sells crafts on Etsy and takes long walks through the forests near her home.

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