30 Winter Wardrobe Essentials For Every Budget

It’s over. Those surprise warm days you dream about are pretty much done until May. Now, when you step outside, you either retreat immediately or deal with just being cold. But, save the tears (they’ll freeze, anyway). Although this is arguably the dreariest season of the lot, it’s the perfect excuse to cozy up in winter’s coolest offerings.
What’s topping our list this time around? The nubbiest sweater of all time, booties that won’t make you slip and slide, and three gorgeous outerwear options that’ll have your back now through that final blizzard that hits every year right when you really thought winter was done. Even if you were planning a full-blown hibernation this winter, the 30 wardrobe essentials ahead may just make you want to step outside when the frost hits.
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1. The Leopard Booties
Leopard doesn’t really ever go away. But, the animal print is returning as the queen of the jungle collections this winter in particular, especially when it comes to footwear. Spice up your 9-to-5 lineup with a pointed-toe bootie or give your favorite sweater-dress a fresh spin for a night out.
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2. The Carpet Skirt
Those traditional wool skirts have had their moment in the sun. This season, skirts are taking a cue from Grandma’s rug, coming in carpet-like materials with modern flecks of color and bold florals. Tuck in a distressed chambray shirt or pair with a slouchy sweater and you’ll look a lot cooler than Granny’s interiors.
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3. The High-Tech Parka
Your basic black or gray parka has run its course. This winter's version is graphic, bold, and will stand out among even the brightest wool overcoats.
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4. The Massive Man-Pants
If sweatpants aren’t an option in your everyday life, the sophisticated gaucho is your new go-to. Sleeker than the oversized, printed trousers your great-aunt used to don, this massive menswear-pant is equal parts comfy and stylish. To balance out the larger-than-life silhouette down below, try fitted items up top like a shrunken boyfriend blazer or a cropped knit.
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5. The Bright Red Bag
Black satchels no longer reign supreme at the office. A top-handle style in fiery red shows your boss you mean business. Unexpected accents like shiny gold hardware or colorblock elements only deliver more look.
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6. The Faux-Fur Scarf
British line Shrimps’ faux-fur phenomenon has carried over to this season as fellow designers from Gucci to Carven showcased not-trying-to-look-real plush pieces in whimsical hues like pastel pink, lime green, and electric blue. While a fluffy coat is great, try adding a dash of luxe to your ensemble with a scarf, instead.
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7. The Side-Zip Sweater
We get it, you want to be covered as much as possible when the temps drop. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t show a little skin (well, sort of). A sweater with unexpected slits on the sides is a welcome update to a standard silhouette. Just make sure you layer a tee underneath so your actual skin doesn’t turn blue.
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8. The All-Weather Boot
You can’t get through winter without a meant-for-the-snow boot. It’s just not possible. But, practical footwear doesn’t have to mean ugly. Look for colorblocking and neon accents on the stylish, all-weather styles that'll rival your fancy shoe collection
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9. The Blanket Poncho
Ponchos have never reached that “cool” status. Sure, they kind of got there in the mid-2000s, but it wasn’t until Cara Delevingne walked in Burberry and Olivia Palermo stepped out this fall in a monogrammed plaid coverall that the old-person staple reached the major (fashion) leagues.
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10. The Front-To-Back Pearl Earrings
It’s tough to swing by a jewelry counter and not spot a stand of pearls. This season’s sea-born jewels are losing their stuffy cred for a bit of edge. We’re partial to the of-the-moment front-to-back earring shape for a little more interest.
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11. The Layering Tunic
For those days when you just don’t want to think about crafting a high-concept look, don’t forget about the layering tunic. This short-sleeve, boxy throw-on gives even the most basic silhouette a little something. Layer a printed option over a slim white shirt and culottes and it's like you just stepped out of a session with a celeb stylist (or, you know, an R29 crew member).
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12. The Fancy Sneakers
When the idea of stilettos makes you never want to leave your house, you’re a certified sneaker girl. Fortunately, the not-meant-for-the-gym trainer ruled the runways of Opening Ceremony and Dior. Team an electric, athletic pair with a full skirt and pullover for casual Friday and you’ll be skipping past the podiatrist’s office as your heel-crazed colleague steps in.
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13. The Gold Shades
Just because you’re trekking through the snow, and not the sand, doesn’t mean you don’t need a solid pair of sunnies. This winter, it’s all about gold to give quirky shapes an even more modern feel.
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14. The Cropped Knit
This is not your average knit. Give a mock-neck sweater a whimsical spin with shorter-than-average hems. Wear a kooky graphic pick or a rich-colored find with high-waisted trousers to achieve the cropped look without showing a hint of skin.
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15. The Flared Jean
Forget boyfriend or skinny, this winter’s go-to is throwing it back to the ultimate ‘70s cool girl: Jane Birkin. You guessed it, flares are cropping up (or, out, rather) in a major way. Tuck a blouse into a classic indigo style to elongate your silhouette or get edgy with purposefully frayed hems.
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16. The Track-Sole Loafers
How often does this happen in the winter: You’re sashaying normally down the sidewalk when SPLAT — you’re on the ground. Fortunately, this season's bringing menswear-inspired shoes with chunky soles. So, there’s no need to tread so lightly.
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17. The Plaid Coat
This checked print is no longer reserved for old-school farmers or Britney Spears’ famous skirt. In fact, plaid couldn’t be any more forward than it is right now. Find it on boxy jackets with smart details like bright piping and off-center zippers.
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18. The Pom-Pom Beanie
Your head is going to get cold, that’s a given. But, instead of reaching for your standard, run-of-the-mill beanie, go for one with a little more character with poofy pom-poms and in marled fabrics.
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19. The Statement Choker
It’s no secret that just about everything from the decade of grunge has resurged as of late. (Cue: crop tops and creepers.) But, it’s the choker necklace that’s shining right now. You could go for one in classic gold or silver, but unique pieces with dramatic embellishments and in woven fabrics are most noteworthy now.
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20. The Mechanic Jumpsuit
If rag & bone and Steven Alan’s shows were any indication, the person that fixes your car couldn’t be more on-trend. So, take a cue and jumpstart your winter dressing routine with a mechanic-esque jumpsuit in a tough material. Pair yours with stilettos or booties to keep your look on the softer side.
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21. The Polka-Dot Socks
There’s no simpler way to tie your whole outfit together than a whimsically printed sock. Plus, if you want to carry over your pant-roll technique from fall to winter, a chic stocking is a must.
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22. The Quirky Pumps
Just because spring and summer are a thing of the past, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your footwear (i.e., something other than black booties). Punch up your hooves with a functional block heel featuring unexpected curve details or a pop of print.
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23. The Pastel Vest
Everyone needs that one piece to just make a look. Sometimes, it’s a structured jacket or eye-popping accessory, but for winter, it’s all about the pastel vest. The magic? It will dress up jeans and a long-sleeve knit or make your standard wool maxi feel even more legit.
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24. The Lace-Up, Pointed Boots
They’re back. All-the-way-up laces on a pointy silhouette adds a touch of girliness to this winter’s most versatile (and toughest) shoe. The best part? They’ll go with literally everything in your arsenal.
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25. The Glitter Clutch
It’s hard to give up the massive carryall you throw your entire life into, but one look at these gorgeous glitter clutches will make you forget you ever needed that functional tote. Just think of their styling power: Grasping one turns the most basic LBD into something special.
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26. The Duster Cardigan
The oversized cardigan is a given, right? Yes. But, this winter’s slouchy favorite is super-long, hitting right above the ankle. Try one in a soft cotton or fuzzy cashmere for an updated twist.
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27. The Fringe Skirt
A little bit ‘70s Palm Spring, a tad Coachella-cool, a bit real-time hippie. However you classify, one thing’s for certain: fringe is here and swaying to the beat of its own drum. (It's tasseling its way into spring '15, too, so be warned.) To ease into the trend, try fringed accents on a sophisticated skirt so it’s not so in-your-face.
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28. The Structured, Top-Handle Bag
For those days when you just want to be a lady, the boxy top-handle satchel is key. You’ll look instantly sophisticated, even on the days when you feel anything but.
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29. The Hand Warmers
Sure, your basic black drugstore gloves do the job, but unless you select the pair that allows you to text, you’re pretty much screwed on the go. That’s where these fingerless mits come into play. They’re equal parts stylish and practical.
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30. The Textured Heels
You wrap yourself in a shearling coat or bundle up in a furry scarf. But, your feet remain an untapped market. Until now. A textured heel gives your outfit more depth and interest as you’re dashing from your desk to drinks. Add socks to really commit to the cozy look.

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