Cold-Weather Fashion Crimes

cold weather fashion crimes

We last wrote about the fashion crimes that are specific to cold weather back in 2008. That’s a long, long time in the world of fashion, so we thought it was time for an update. Here, in no particular order, are the crimes of fashion most commonly committed during the winter season…

1. Not dressing for the weather

In certain corners of the UK, it’s considered very uncool (no pun intended) to wear a coat, no matter how cold it is outside. The result? Legions of people (both male and female), walking around with visible goosebumps, looking absolutely ridiculous because they just couldn’t bring themselves to dress for the weather. And, you know, we get it: or sort of, anyway. Winter clothing can be dull and boring, and if you’ve just bought a great new item, you want to wear it and show it off, not hide it under tons of bulky layers, or hide it away at the back of the closet until next spring.  The problem is, though, that sometimes style is all about context, and ignoring that context just because you MUST wear a certain item, can lead you straight into Fashion Victim territory. Just as the most fabulous cocktail dress can be a crime of fashion if you try to wear it to a football match, say (Especially if you’re one of the players…) wearing clothes that are inappropriate for the climate is never stylish. We’ve all seen women wandering around in thick coats and bare legs, or shivering in a thin top when the temperature is below zero, and no matter how great the outfit is on its own terms, it just doesn’t work. We’re not saying you have to give up all hope of looking stylish until the weather warms up again: just that it’s probably a good idea to put those strappy sandals and other summery pieces to the back of the closet until it’s time for them to really shine.

2. Bad layering

Lots of people get super-excited at the idea of wearing OMGLAYERS for the first time in the season (No, we don’t understand it either…). While it’s true that layering items can be a great way to keep warm, it’s also true that too many layers – or ill-thought-out ones – can leave you looking like a badly-wrapped parcel, albeit a warm one. Too many layers can also restrict your movement (ever tried to get your arms into a coat while wearing seven different sweaters? Try it, then get back to us…) and be horribly uncomfortable, so go forth and layer, by all means: just try not to get too carried away with it.

3. Soggy Ugg boots

Ugg boots made it onto our 2008 list, and although they’re not quite as popular these days as they were back then, there’s still a lot of them around, and they’ve become a staple item for many people. Surprising as it may sound, we don’t actually classify Uggs as a fashion crime in themselves, and this is because we place them in the same category we use for things like rain boots or running shoes: they may not look good, but they get the job done, whatever it may be. Uggs, however, aren’t a great choice for wet or snowy winter days: sure, they’ll keep your feet warm on a cold, dry day, but the slightest bit of snow or slush will leave them looking like roadkill, and that look hasn’t been fashionable since… that look has never been fashionable.

4. Overdoing it

It’s cold out. We know that. Just as bad as under-dressing for the weather, however, is the act of over-dressing for the weather. By this, we’re not talking about over-dressing in the “cocktail dress to a football match” sense, but those people who dress as if they’re off to climb Everest, when in fact they’re just going to walk to the car and back in late September. We’re prepared to show some leniency here, because we know some people feel the cold more than others (We know this because we ARE those people…), but if you’re not planing to be out in the elements for a long time, or the weather isn’t particularly chilly, there’s no need to be bundled up like a walking, talking sleeping bag.

5. “Winterizing” summer clothes

We’ve all seen this happen: in fact, we may even have tried it ourselves. “Hmmm, I really want to wear this sundress… but it’s snowing outside. I know! I’ll just ‘winterize’ it with a pair of tights, a thick sweater, and a cardigan: done!” We’ve even read fashion editorials offering sage advice on how to “winterize” items that really weren’t designed to be worn in winter, and our first thought is always, “Why?” Unless you just moved to a cold climate from a warm one, or you have some other reason for owning absolutely NO winter clothing whatsoever, why try to force an item to be something it’s not? That poor old summer dress doesn’t WANT to be worn with woolly tights, or to have a thick sweater poking out from underneath its spaghetti straps. It just wants to rest quietly in the closet until it can once again be worn in the way it was intended to be worn. Why force it? We’ll concede here that there are times when this ‘winterising’ can work, but in general, summer fabrics and styles just look a little bit odd when worn with winter woolies, so unless summer clothes are literally all you own, why not try putting together an ACTUAL winter outfit instead?

6. Leggings as pants

Leggings worn as pants are a crime of fashion at ANY time of year, but for some reason it’s a crime that’re more prevalent in the winter. We’re not sure if it’s because leggings are easier to fit inside boots, or if people think they look like they’re off to some luxury ski resort, but here’s the thing: they don’t. They just look like they’re out without their pants on, and you don’t need us to tell you why that’s a fashion crime, do you?

7. Dresses or skirts over jeans

Want to wear that dress you love? Think it’ll be too cold, even with tights? No problem: just stick a pair of jeans underneath and call it a day! Or… don’t. This is related to the “winterizing summer clothing” point, and, as with that one, we know some people still love this look, but we reckon it almost always looks awkward, as if the wearer of the dress didn’t have the confidence to wear it on its own, and so added the comfort-blanket option that is “jeans with everything”. If you must wear jeans under your dresses, go for the super-skinny variety – bootlegs or flares look sloppy with dresses, and add too much volume to the look – or, better still, wear leggings if your tights aren’t warm enough, although, with that said, lots of stores now sell fleece-lined or thermal tights, which can eliminate the need for trousers-under-dresses altogether.

8. Reader’s choice!

We’ve told you what WE consider to be some of the most common winter fashion crime, but our final bullet point is a reader’s choice, so go on -tell us what you hate seeing every winter!


  • November 21, 2013


    There is a sort of “indoors-outdors” confusion which I see quite a lot on younger people: While they leave their wooly hats or beanies on all day – in class, at the dinner table, everywhere – they refuse to zip up their jacket outside. I often see young women at the train station, jacket unzippered when it is below zero, hands stuffed in their pockets, hunched against the cold, and shivering so violently that their white earphone wires look blurry. Looking so idiotic is surely a crime of fashion.

    I also don’t like it when people cover too much of their face with scarves. Sometimes these scarves are piled on so heavily they form a mound as big as the Cheops pyramid. The tip of the nose might stick out, or not. Essentially they are BREATHING through the fabric which I find unhygienic, to say the least.

    The worst offense (though only loosely related to fashion) to me is the “wiener-in-the-pocket” thing, which luckily is disappearing because gloves with electrically conductive fingertips are more widespread now. In the early days of the smartphone I sometimes saw people carrying an actual Vienna sausage in their pocket. The first time I saw somebody pull it out of his pocket to tap his smartphone with, I didn’t even understand what was going on! Then he stuffed the greasy, dirty thing back into his coat pocket. Ugh!

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    • November 22, 2013

      The Fashion Police

      Seriously, with the sausage?! I have never heard of that one: that’s just so gross!

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    • October 2, 2014


      “Sometimes these scarves are piled on so heavily they form a mound as big as the Cheops pyramid. The tip of the nose might stick out, or not. Essentially they are BREATHING through the fabric which I find unhygienic, to say the least.”

      I see you’ve never been in a Canadian winter.

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  • November 21, 2013


    I see all of these almost every day on campus. I think at least part of it is that so many people come to this particular college from California or some similar location where it never drops below 50ºF. Many people seem to take winter as a personal insult and refuse to accept that they can’t just wear whatever they want at any time of year. Either that or they’re just lazy.

    Dear Lord, do people really carry around sausages to poke at their phones with in winter?!? What could possibly be so urgent?? And why did people settle on sausages as the right medium?!??

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    • November 22, 2013


      Sausages seem to be about as conductive as a human fingertip, and some people are obviously either too lazy or too cold to take their gloves off. There are such things as foam-tipped styluses for capacitive screens, but it seems nobody uses those when a sausage is so much cheaper.

      But as I said – it has been years since I last saw people do that, now that even H&M sells cheap knit gloves with those strange, shiny fingertips.

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  • November 24, 2013


    The sausage thing is hilarious – I can’t believe peolple are seriously doing that?!

    I couldn’t agree more to no.1-8 and was laughing out loud while reading… except maybe no. 5. Obviously I wouldn’t wear real summer clothes in winter (we do have snow here in the Bavarian Alps!) but taking a few lighter dresses into the cold season and wearing them with tights, boots and a knitted cardigan and maybe a scarf does make sense, doesn’t it?

    Annette | Lady of Style

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    • November 25, 2013


      Probably if the fabric isn’t too summery, and the cut too bare, it might work. I once owned a lightweight cotton gabardine shirtwaist dress which I wore to death, with sandals and upturned sleeves in summer and buttoned-up with thights in winter. The slip I had to put underneath to prevent it from climing up my stocking-clad legs gave additional warmth.

      But with silk and linen? Florals or yellow-white stripes? White cotton? I think you’d look like a butterfly in a freezer, to quote the immortal Helen Gurley Brown. Think of the opposite case: Nobody tries to summerize winter dresses – what about my favourite dark blue sheath of thin wool crepe, it would be cool enough and maybe I could come up with something red and white from my summer wardrobe to “sun it up” a bit – but with its stiff structure and degree of coverage it would never, ever look like a summer dress, no matter what I do!

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  • December 12, 2013


    Having moved from a hot, tropical climate (Think never goes below 25C and that too in ‘winter’) to the US (where it’s snowing!), I can totally attest to the winterizing issues.

    What I wanted to say is that, for someone who’s never experienced/seen this cold; it’s a little mindboggling to actually realize it. The jeans/pants I had used back home are of the less heavy kind; and I didn’t even know about it until coming here.
    Layering was an absent concept.
    Shoes were only meant for fancy parties or classes/lab.
    I hardly, if ever, bought socks that extend beyond my ankle.

    So, yep. If you see me now, I’ll be one of those “overdoing” it.

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