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How to Stay Warm Without the Bulk

These silhouettes will keep you toasty without looking like the Michelin Man

By Lambeth Hochwald | December 10, 2013

To stay truly toasty during winter months, you once needed to don the biggest, puffiest down coat you could find. Fortunately, the days of bulky outerwear are a thing of the past, thanks to new textiles and layering fabrics that have been developed to keep us warm without making us look like human marshmallows.
We’ve also become smarter about the benefits of wearing several thin layers, says designer Liz Lange. “Lighter layers gives you the ability to shed them as the weather changes,” she says. “Plus, you’ll feel more comfortable than if you piled on a few thick ones.”
Another good rule of thumb is turning to lighter, natural fabrics like cashmere and silk. “Cashmere is soft, lightweight and an amazing insulator,” Lange says. “And because silk is one of the most tightly woven fabrics, it doesn’t let cold air through. Wearing it close to the body is a great way to keep warm.”

If you’re going for a slim silhouette, make a point of avoiding loose or baggy sweaters. They might feel warm and cozy, but they add unwanted bulk. “Any clothing with texture is naturally on the more voluminous side,” says Deepika Mehra, a senior fashion designer at J.Jill. “Layering with finer, lighter-weight pieces works way better to shield you during a cold, windy day.”
As with all smart dressing, seek out clothing that fits your frame, not what’s trendy — or, in the case of winter, oversize items that you think will keep you warmer. “If it’s so cold that you need to wear a down coat, find one that’s lightweight and wear a superfine sweater underneath,” Mehra says. “It may seem light, but it’s actually quite warm and will never make you look larger than life.”
See slideshow for nine flattering ways to warm up this winter.