Winter Warmup: The Guide to Socks, Stockings and Tights

layering clothes for winter - socks, stockings and tights

A cold front may be on its way in, but now’s not the time to let uninvited weather thwart your style. You’ve noticed the surge of ’90s-inspired minis and slips, ’00s-inspired denim skirts and the oversized tee dress. That’s the no-pants party in full swing, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down even when things turn chilly. Stand up to dropping temps by layering clothes for winter the fashionable way: with the pieces that have kept women warm throughout history.

This list of unsung heroes — socks, stockings and tights — help you maintain your aesthetic and keep you sporting all of the season’s best pieces even as the thermometer plunges. Choose from the obvious options, like adding a sock with your shoe, to bolder ideas, like enhancing a blah ensemble with ornately patterned tights. Right on time to get you through holiday parties and drafty office dressing, we’ve rounded up the hosiery to keep you toasty all winter long — when you just can’t sacrifice for the likes of a wool trouser.

The Simplest Layering Clothes for Winter: Socks

sheer ankle shocks with black and white trim
Photo Source:

In climates like California, you can get away with minimal additions. Slipping a simple sock into the equation can help battle a brisk morning that turns into a nice afternoon. Rocking novelty socks with a bootie, sandal or heel is what’s trending, and warmer states are perfect for taking advantage of this quick fix. Just pick your poison — sweet or sporty? You can get some really great custom socks that no one else will have, which is always awesome!

Sheer socks with white and black stripes at ankle
Sheer 2 Stripe Ankle Socks, $6.50, ASOS

For a Tad More Coverage: Stockings

layering clothes for winter: pairing knee high socks with sweater dress
Photo source:

I consider a stocking anything that nears the knee or higher. So this would be where your boot socks, knee highs and thick highs come into play. Boots that hit at or past the knee have always looked killer with skirts. And whether you’re going pencil or mini, you can keep cozy with a thick-knit sock paired underneath. If you love the novelty sock look from above, take the style higher with preppy knee highs or cable-knit, over-the-knee socks.

Kneehigh white socks
Lacie Lace Darcie Knee High Socks, $19.99, Zappos

When It’s Just Cold: Choose Tights

And finally, the cold climate staple: tights. Every fashionista has a sheer or opaque pair in their drawer, but the options extend far beyond basic black. Sure, the classics look super chic covering up any sliver of skin between your hem and shoes, but tights can be used as a pop of color or focal point of an outfit. And velvet, metallic lame, ribbing, Swiss dots and fish nets give your standard cool-weather textiles a punch in texture.

microfiber tights
MUK LUKS 2-Pack Ribbed Microfiber Tights, $22.99, Kohl’s

Layering clothes for winter doesn’t have to mean neutral cardigan over neutral top. Use the cold weather to experiment with tights, socks and stockings this season — and see how many compliments you get for your fun choices!


Melissa is creative communications professional with 9+ years of experience writing for the beauty and fashion industries.