Dresses are an easy option in the summertime but when the mercury drops, it's tempting to resign yourself to a season of pants-only fashion. That's a little too close to admitting defeat for my taste, so I looked into the
best warm winter dresses that could round out a cold weather wardrobe and give you plenty of options to get through the doldrums in style.
Obviously, one dress does not a wardrobe make, despite what hardcore minimalist bloggers would have you believe. Ideally, you'll have a few in the closet to cover all your bases. For lazy days at home or relaxed weekend brunches, spring for casual dresses in a sporty fleece or brushed flannel that will likely work with a lot of clothes you already own. Alternately, wool and acrylic (a synthetic wool alternative) are good fabrics for dresses to wear to work since they keep you warm without skewing too casual. And nothing beats velvet for a formal occasion — the rich texture is heavy and warm and so,
The best part? Almost all of these dresses can be worn over at least one other item, so you can get seriously bundled up underneath. Sweater dresses turn into cozy tunics when you throw them on over a pair of leggings (like the fleece pair I've included below), and some dresses even have room for a full-length thermal tee underneath without looking bulky. Pick up a few different cuts and styles, and suddenly your wardrobe looks (and feels) a whole lot more inspired — no matter what the weather is doing outside.
A Hooded Sweatshirt Dress For Cozy Days
sweatshirt dress is almost as good as staying in your pajamas when the temperature plummets. Its thick fleece lining is extra snuggly, and the poly-cotton blend can take a beating in the washing machine if you spill something on it. The roomy cut with side-seam pockets leaves plenty of space for adding hidden layers, and the split hemline gives you total range of motion (even if the only marathon you're running is on Netflix). One shopper reported, "I wore it with leggings and wool socks...but have also worn it with opaque black tights and boots for a more 'dressed up' look to go out and about. It's delightfully plush and not a thin sweatshirt. Again, I can't say enough good things about this." Available colors: 10 colors Available sizes: S - XXXL
This Belted Flannel Shirt Dress That Pairs Well With Boots
flannel shirt dress in buffalo plaid is a toasty look for chilly weather. There are tailored details like a self-tie belt and A-line flare, but you can pair it with sneakers or boots for a casual look. That said, this is a dress that totally transforms when you add heels and statement jewelry — the review photos have some serious style inspiration — so it's a great choice if you're traveling and need a warm dress that's wearable to more than one occasion. Shoppers advise sizing up if you have wider shoulders and call it "adorable" and "made for photos," adding that it's a great dupe for a more expensive brand's dress. Available colors: 7 colors Available sizes: XS - XL
This Sharp Fitted Turtleneck Midi Dress
turtleneck midi dress in a thick ribbed knit is a sleek option for work or dates that keeps you warm while still looking sophisticated. The longer hemline is sharp with ankle boots or over-the-knee styles but might bunch up if you wear riding boots that come to the knee. You can score this dress with a bold graphic accent stripe or in a dependable solid — including hard-to-find pastels like rose, lilac, and a fresh spring green. Reviews call it "a gorgeous warm and comfortable dress," noting that it's not too thick but still keeps you warm. "Perfect for winter and spring time," one shopper noted. Available colors: 20 colors Available sizes: XS - XXL
This Simple Velvet Dress You Can Buy In 4 Different Styles
Available in four different cuts, this
velvet dress offers lush color and texture for an easygoing party frock that's as pretty as it is warm. It's available in two different wrap styles, as well as a long-sleeved skater dress and a swingy spaghetti-strap option that's a good pick if you plan to layer. Shoppers rave that it's a beautiful dress that exceeds expectation and report that it's made from high-quality velvet with a kiss of stretch for comfort. "Form fitting and nice material. Heavier than expected. Not too short, but not too conservative either," one review shared. Available colors: 6 colors Available sizes: S - XXL
This Fleece Mini Dress That's Equal Parts Cute & Comfy
This shorter shift-cut
sweatshirt dress offers a more fitted silhouette without sacrificing comfort (or room for layers). The shorter hem plays especially well with over-the-knee boots, but it also works as a cozy tunic over a great pair of leggings. The frock's fleece lining adds warmth and softness while the poly-cotton blend can be tossed in the wash worry-free. "Casual, cute and warm!" one shopper reported. Available colors: 6 colors Available sizes: S - XL
A Fitted Cable Knit Dress Available As Crew Neck Or Turtleneck
cable-knit sweater dress is a cold-weather staple. The knitted details add texture and visual interest – it’s a good way to add pattern to an outfit without actually having to wear a pattern. This one is offered as a crew-neck or a cozy turtleneck in a viscose, nylon, and polyester blend that is soft and warm. When cared for properly, it won’t shrink — machine washing is fine, but you do have to air dry it. The body-con cut is form-fitting but not tight, although taller shoppers mentioned that the hemline runs a little short on them. This dress gets high marks for being soft and cozy but, most importantly, absolutely adorable. On shopper wrote, "I was really surprised with how nice this sweater dress was! This thing is thick and super warm, the reviews are not kidding when they say it keeps you toasty." Available colors: 9 colors Available sizes: S - XL
A Sweet Pleated Sweater Dress For The Office & Beyond
fit and flare sweater dress with a twirly pleated skirt is another pretty pick for work or play that can easily shift to more formal occasions, too, thanks to feminine details like the sash waist and jewel mock-neck. Shoppers report that it's super easy to care for, too. The viscose-nylon blend is surprisingly hardy: The dress doesn’t wrinkle easily, and you can toss it in the wash at home. Thanks to long sleeves and a looser skirt, this is one dress you can actually wear a full-body layer underneath, like a thin thermal tee and leggings. "Love the fit and feel of this dress! I want to wear it every day...The material is smooth and high quality and the skirt is heavy enough to flow and swing really nicely as you walk," one happy customer reported. Available colors: 6 colors Available sizes: XS - XL
A Convertible Velvet Evening Dress That Can Be Worn 6 Different Ways
Cold-weather weddings and black tie affairs are officially
handled with this convertible velvet dress. You'll never be photographed wearing the same outfit twice thanks to its ingenious self-tie design that allows for so many different styling options. "I love that you can make it seem like a different dress, depending on your mood. You can make it seem fancy or you can turn it into a party dress," one review pointed out.
Shoppers report that this dress is made from real velvet — which means it won't pick up pet hair or lint as easily — and, miraculously, never needs to be ironed. According to one reviewer: "The material is way nicer than I expected and the color is very true to the pictures! It looks very high end, especially for the price!"
Available colors: 6 colors Available sizes: S - XL
A Chunky Oversize Turtleneck Sweater Dress With Pockets
A chunky turtleneck
sweaterdress with pockets offers the ease of a sweatshirt and the sophistication of a knit in one cozy package. Acrylic makes a great alternative to wool because it's lightweight and warm but is more affordable and doesn't need to be dry cleaned. (That said, it does require a little bit of TLC: hand wash cold, lay flat to dry.) This wears easily as a chic tunic — it would look amazing over faux leather leggings. "I almost didn’t get this sweater," one shopper confessed, "but I absolutely love it and it’s exactly what I was hoping for." Available colors: 8 solids, 3 prints Available sizes: S - XL
A Casual Winter Maxi Dress That Can Be Styled Up Or Down
A classic wrap in buttery jersey fabric makes for one seriously comfortable
casual winter maxi dress that can also be styled formally. This dress channels a 1940s screen siren with a plunging (yet adjustable) wrap neckline and dramatic full-length hem. Long sleeves and skirt offer a bit more coverage and warmth, while the skin-tight silhouette and thigh-high slit simmer on their own. The rayon-spandex blend is soft and flowy, with plenty of stretch for comfort, but you will need to hand wash it for the rest of your life. That caveat hasn't stopped many shoppers, though. One reviewer wrote "So happy with this dress! I wore it to a cocktail formal Christmas party, but this dress could easily be dressed more up or down. Don’t hesitate, just buy the dress!" Available colors: 10 colors Available sizes: S - L
Also Great: A Pair Of Fleece-Lined Leggings For Layering
If you're looking for a pair of
fleece-lined leggings for layering under dresses and skirts (or wearing as pants), this pair offers seamless comfort that keeps you cozy, with a medium waistband that wears well under other garments so you aren't constantly adjusting elastic. The nylon-spandex blend offers plenty of stretch with the added benefit of being moisture-wicking and durable: You can wear these leggings anywhere to do almost anything and will still be comfy at the end of a long day. "These are by far my favorite pair and they are a great price, too," one shopper noted . "Great fit and so warm!" another exclaimed. Available colors: 22 colors Available sizes: Small/Medium and Large/Extra Large Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently of Bustle's editorial and sales departments.