Since the temperatures have dropped and it's started getting dark at 4pm, the last thing we want to think about is what to wear. Truly, in an ideal world, we would be hibernating; burrowing under duvets and blankets until March. But, unfortunately, that's not possible. Instead, we'll settle for the thickest, warmest, cosiest, softest clothes possible.
That's not to say that we can't dress stylishly at the same time! This is the season to really start dressing after all. It’s a time for interesting layering, dynamic textures and a richer, warmer colour palette (jewel tones! Earthy shades! Gothic blacks and reds!). From the runways to our favourite TikTokers, street style to the most unexpected style icons, there’s no shortage of inspiration right now. Eager to explore what the fashion world has to offer, we’ve rounded up our favourite winter 2021 trends, all of which are totally wearable, easy to incorporate into your existing wardrobe, classic enough to roll around season after season and available at all price points. Here’s to a whole new season of fashion fun that brightens even the dullest winter day.
The Wind- And Rain-Proof Winter Coat
When winter gales are howling outside and the rain is lashing it down, you need a really sturdy, quality winter coat – one that is wind- and rain-proof of course, but also thick and warm. Our go-to for cosy winter coats is Seasalt, who know a thing or two about dressing for harsh weather; their designs are inspired by the maritime heritage of Cornwall. Their River Sea Coat, £150 for example is lined with Wellsoft® fleece and quilted polyester to add warmth without bulk.
The cosy fleece
An extra cosy, extra soft, fleecy or wool shacket isn’t just a super stylish, seasonally appropriate alternative to your summer denim jacket. It’s also all you’ll want to pull on for early morning walks and chilly commutes. A shot of colour or fun pattern takes this simple staple (and your entire outfit) to the next level. Once the chill truly sets in, simply layer it under your winter coat for an extra cosy layer.
The chunky hiking boot
Sure, this city-meets-countryside hybrid may not be practical for a serious trek up Snowdonia, but they're the perfect boot to see us through winter in style. The beauty of these babies is that they'll go just as nicely with kick-flared denim and a quilted coat as they will a floral midi dress or leather mini skirt.
The cable knit jumper
Of course, a classic cable knit takes pride of place in our winter wardrobe. It's a subtle touch of texture that gives our layered-up winter outfits more interest and dimension.
The knee-high platform boots
The '60s are back, baby, and bringing their ultra cool shoe trends with them, namely knee-high platform boots. Reminiscent of the classic go-go boot, not only do these add instant glamour and elegance to any look, they’re also a whole lot more comfortable and wearable than their stiletto cousins. We’re wearing ours with slim-fit turtleneck jumpers, pleated miniskirts and belted trench coats (two more of our top trends!) to lean right into that ‘60s It Girl vibe.
The collared jumper or knit polo
Whatever you call this, it’s the perfect transitional piece, combining the relaxed ease and sporty-chic feel of a classic polo shirt with the cosy warmth of a knit. As we end autumn, wear it tucked into your favourite high-waist jeans, with ankle boots and an oversized blazer. When it gets colder, there’s no need to swap it out for a chunkier knit; simply wear over a thermal turtleneck for an extra layer that isn’t too thick under your winter coat.
The pleated miniskirt
Can you tell that we’ve just finished watching the Gossip Girl reboot? The fashion world is feeling the back-to-school excitement, too, with pleated miniskirts aplenty (bonus points if yours is plaid). To avoid looking like a schoolgirl (or trying out Rory Gilmore cosplay), steer clear of anything too preppy or uniform-like. Instead, play with proportions and mix up your materials: layer over a boxy, knitted sweater vest, opt for an oversized leather jacket, team with chunky biker boots or switch in your fave washed out band tee. Think you can't wear skirts during winter? You're wrong. Simply invest in a pair or two of fleece lined tights from Amazon, £14.99.
The knitted balaclava
Trust us, you're about to see knitted balaclavas or hoods everywhere. Commonly associated with keeping children's heads warm in winter, they've now become a winter style favourite, especially for our Scandi style crushes – understandably so, they're battling far harsher a winter than we are.
The collared dress
The cold weather update on last summer's prairie dress trend. This time, designers are taking inspiration from the spookier side of the season as pilgrim-esque collars call upon witchy ancestors (think Netflix’s Sabrina and her love for lace-collar dresses). Best worn in a cool pattern so as not to stray too far into costume territory, layer over a turtleneck, add heeled ankle boots, a top handle bag and a beret for a chic, winter date night look.
The fuzzy teddy bag
As the temperature drops and the evenings draw in, who doesn’t want an extra touch of cosiness to their outfits? The fuzzy teddy bag, made with extra soft borg or fleecy material, is your new AW staple. We love how the rich texture of these bags looks against the season’s other key materials: slick vinyl leather, mock-croc embossing, thick knits and luxe velvet.
The statement winter hat
Whether you're a beanie, beret or fluffy bucket hat kind of person, stock up now. A statement hat is the easiest way to refresh your winter wardrobe and will keep your warm all season long.
The leather and vinyl trench coat
The leather and vinyl trench coat combines the unmistakable chic of a classic trench (à la Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s) with the edge of a leather jacket. During that tricky period when some winter days are bright but chilly, it's your perfect transitional coat.
The knit and crochet vest
When you want a stylish alternative to your winter jumper, a knit, crochet or sweater vest is your best friend, transforming summer dresses and skirts into prime winter outfits. For everyday, we love layering ours over another knit and teaming with jeans and Docs for a more interesting, layered look.
The puffer coat
The classic loafers
Inspired by the coolest girls we wish we could have dressed as in high school, this Dark Academia classic is a seasonally appropriate alternative to boots. Wear throughout autumn with your favourite mini dress, frilly socks (like these from ASOS, £4) and a boxy blazer; come winter, swap out your dress for tailored trousers, choose thick, knitted socks (Arket, £8.50) and ditch the blazer for a woollen coat. Accessory-wise, we're leaning fully into the Dark Academia theme with a leather cross-body bag, baker boy cap and an armful of Penguin Classics.
The chunky knit cardigan
This is another winter classic, one you’re for sure going to wear year after year. This season, our attention is on rainbow brights, abstract patterns and mottled, mixed yarns – pieces that are an outfit in themselves. When it’s cold out and you need to layer up, what better way to make a statement than with your knitwear game?
The patterned scarf
When in doubt, bundle up with a thick, patterned scarf – a much needed pop of colour on dull winter days.
The satin midi skirt
This is a piece you most likely already own. The satin midi skirt is a transitional dressing champion, taking us from summer to autumn to winter and from fancy occasions to everyday. When in doubt, whatever your plans, nothing beats the combination of silky skirt, chunky knit and over-the-knee boots.
The chunky lug boots
Turbo-charged, lug-style rubber boots are the AW21 update on your classic biker boots. Reminiscent of ‘90s grunge, they look best with your prettiest, flounciest dress or grounding a simple, sexy slip dress moment. For everyday, we also love the contrast between these and masculine tailoring (your fave suit or dress trousers).
The fuzzy striped jumper
It’s extra thick, extra cosy and looks like your nan knitted it for you. What’s not to love? Even better, each of these designs is made from leftover wool scraps and recycled yarn.
The long-sleeve prairie dress
A lazy girl’s best friend, the long-sleeve prairie dress looks great on everyone, works whatever the weather and occasion (depending on your accessories and layering choices) and is super comfortable to wear. For those still working from home, it’ll have you feeling far more put-together than your ratty lounge set.
The knitted trousers
They’re as comfortable as your joggers and as versatile as your trusty denim but far more stylish. We’re wearing ours under oversized T-shirts and sweatshirts for a casual-cool look that works right through the season. We especially love our knitted trousers with a cool, abstract print. It’s a nod to the ‘60s trend and effortlessly elevates a relatively basic outfit.
The Penny Lane coat
The Penny Lane coat, with faux fur trimming along the neckline and sleeves, was popularised by Kate Hudson's iconic character in Almost Famous. Whether you opt for a classic neutral or a more vibrant colour, a Penny Lane coat is a surefire upgrade on your usual outerwear. When winter’s chill has us bundling up for months on end, we reckon it’s more than worth the extra cost – if only to pretend we’re half as cool as Penny Lane herself.
The heeled ankle boots
Whether your taste runs to suede and a stacked heel, sleek leather and a slim heel, or a Victoriana lace-up front, there’s a heeled ankle boot for every AW wardrobe and every style aesthetic.
The knit set
Say goodbye to your lounge set; this season it’s all about the knit set. In neutral shades of cream, beige and brown, your off-duty style is about to get a major upgrade. Even better, you can choose between trouser and skirt sets, and mix and match separates with your existing wardrobe for a full rotation of AW looks.
shop 6 products
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.