Sunny Clothes in Dreary Weather

Written and modeled by Natalie Hill
Photographed by Anita Goharfar

Winter is usually marked by a few months of consistently grey skies, cranked-up heaters, and waterproof boots and coats that are meant to get you to from point A to point B without freezing. Especially in Boston, it can be difficult to break out of the fashion cycle of black boots, dark jeans, a grey sweater, and navy scarf. Sometimes, though, a pop of color — or an entire outfit of color — can be a good reminder that the sun still exists behind that blanket of grey clouds. People are increasingly wearing sunny colors during the most frigid and bleak time of the year; look to any store and you’re sure to find millennial pink on the racks. This year’s New York Fashion Week just wrapped up, and runways of color appeared across the board: a green satin blouse by Sies Marjan, yellow ensembles by Sally LaPointe, and Nanushka’s purple knee-high boots are a few examples.

Anything bright and unexpected counts, and in any quantity: whether it be a pop of color from an accessory or an entire monochrome outfit. You probably already have pieces in your closet that you can use — unexpected items like socks, belts, and summer clothes layered up can come together to create a fun yet coordinated look. While it’s hard to go wrong with this trend, there are five key recommendations to keep in mind for wearing sunny colors in the winter.

  1. Pick a sunny color and a coordinating neutral

In order to draw attention to the color, contrast with a good coordinating neutral, like grey, tan, black, brown, or cream. Aim to pick two shades that don’t clash with each other and instead balance each other out in terms of tone, intensity, and temperature.

I paired this cozy pink turtleneck with tan as my coordinating neutral, with an oversized corduroy jacket and Fenty x Puma cleated creepers. I pulled the look together with white pinstripe flares. Aside from the shoes, I thrifted everything I’m wearing!

2. Focus on layering

Since it is winter, use layering to your advantage! Add high-neck tops under lower-neck sweaters and top it off with necklaces and a puffy coat. Don’t be afraid to layer lighter jackets and sweatshirts under a bigger coat, too.

I added a white turtleneck under this pink sweater, pairing it with my favorite thrifted sequin-covered Skechers D’Lites. My trusty grey Aritzia Super Puff was the perfect final layer to insulate against the wind.

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3. Consider a statement winter coat

Going shopping for the winter? Arguably the most-used winter item is a coat, which makes it tempting to pick a more versatile neutral tone. But don’t rule out the option of a statement color — you’d be surprised how much you’ll reach for a coat that spices up any and every outfit. Look in your closet and take note of which colors you tend to wear often, which can inform your statement coat color choice. My recommendations: a strong red or pastel blue.

4. Keep in mind your shoes and the weather

If it’s raining or snowing, pick your shoes first (waterproof boots!), then choose the rest of the outfit around those. Tip: if you’re wearing sneakers or shoes that expose your ankle, choose thicker, longer socks. Socks are also a great way to add another pop of color!

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I started with my heavy-duty Puma x Outlaw Moscow Ren Boots, for a snowier day. I chose this turquoise sweater, layering it over a black turtleneck for an extra layer of insulation before topping it with a fun silver puffer (from an old season at Target!).

5. Use accessories to play up the look

Another awesome way to add your sunny color is through shoes, belts, jewelry, scarves, hats, hair clips, and even socks! This is also a great way to incorporate more pops of color into your wardrobe without breaking the bank, and can appear more subtle if you choose.

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I paired this blue sweater with tan corduroy flares, a distressed medium-wash denim jacket, and pink belt for another pop of color. Layering a lighter jacket under a bigger puffer adds another shield against the cold and looks adorable.

Whether you simply switch out your black scrunchie for a pink one, or try a full-monochrome look, wearing a pop of color will surely brighten your day (and maybe someone else’s, too!). Why wait until spring to go shopping for a sunny yellow, orange, blue, purple or green? Pick out some pops of color and get to layering!