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The Best, Warmest, Thinnest Layers

Keep those fall jackets in rotation well past December.

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a woman in a cashmere hoodie walking in the cold with her hands in her pockets Photo: Aether

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Every year when December rolls around, I face the same conundrum: Is it time to put away my fall jacket? On one hand, I love love love my leather coat and want to wear it year round, winter, spring, summer, or fall. On the other hand, I also love being warm and cozy and protected from the New York elements.

Practicality usually wins, but I do have a few secret weapons to sneak in a wear or two through January and February: super-warm layers that are thin enough to fit underneath my jacket.

Merino: Outdoor Voices

Take a cue from backpackers and skiers and incorporate merino wool into your layers. The material is known for being super warm, moisture-wicking, and heat regulating, which makes it a go-to during winter, especially for base layers. Outdoor Voices is designed for activities like running or hiking, but cute enough to wear whenever you feel like it. Add one of the Merino long sleeves ($80) or a zip-up hoodie ($115) and you’re set.

Down: Uniqlo

Down feathers are known for being crazy-warm, and Uniqlo has figured out the magic formula for affordable, lightweight, thin down jackets. The brand offers a bunch of different lengths and fits, but my favorite for layering under a fitted coat is the Ultra Light Down Parka ($79.90). I like having the hood, but if you’d rather your inner layer be a bit more discreet, opt for the brand’s Ultra Light Compact Down Jacket ($59.90), which is designed to fit more like a cardigan.

two women in down jackets Photo: Uniqlo

Cashmere: Aether

Like merino, cashmere is great for heat regulation. It’s as warm or warmer while being even lighter — but it’s also more expensive. If you’re willing to make the splurge, check out Aether’s slim-fitting cashmere blend hooded sweater ($395), which makes a great under-layer. (While you’re at it, check out the brand’s merino base layers too, for extra warmth.)

Long Layers: Oak

The one thing you can really miss out on when wearing a jacket instead of a parka is the booty coverage. Covering your lower half really helps for warmth, but wearing a full-on long down coat under a jacket looks kind of crazy. Enter Oak’s design-y, extra-long sweatshirts, which actually look pretty great even under cropped jackets.

While the material isn’t extra-thin, it does look good extra-fitted, which means it works under a tight-fitting jacket. There are more than a few options, but I’m a big fan of the long slouch hoodie ($195) and fencing hoodie (on sale for $46.50), as well as this wrap sweatshirt ($135), which I like so much I’ve even written about it before.