Winter sex appeal: the fashionable way

The temperature drops, the number of layers increases; the inversely proportional relationship threatens to destroy any hope of you feeling your sexiest as you struggle to fend off the chill. As summer turns to autumn turns to winter, how do you evolve your style to be weather-appropriate and yet head-turningly appealing?

Of course you don’t need to look like a sex-bomb all the time, that goes without saying; nor does sexiness necessarily equate to a need to show any skin. But for those times you’re heading out on a cold night and want to push the sex appeal envelope, to find some way to disclose an alluring hint of your body without becoming a frozen popsicle in the process, these are the ways – the ways specifically fashionable in fall / winter 2013 – to do it.

how to dress sexy in winter

Polar opposites: layering light with heavy.

Throwing a heavy coat over any short little nothing is the party girl’s go to process in winter. That much you know. But each new season brings freshly trending ways of interpreting this winter ritual, and for fall / winter 2013 it’s all about maximum contrast.

sexy winter layering
Sexy winter layering at Pucci, F/W ’13.

Sheer vs heavy: noir.

The mysterious, film noir theme running through this year’s trends means the runways were splashed with femme fatale sleepwear inspired slip dresses and sheer lace boudoir gowns. In themselves, these are not particularly winter-ready, but with the addition of a heavy wool or fur coat, the whole look takes on a wintery charm. Imagine you’re sneaking out at midnight to catch a (steam) train to a new life, throwing on a pair of heels and overcoat as you run out the door. You’re on your way to nailing the look purveyed by the likes of Prada, Pucci and Louis Vuitton.

sexy winter layering
Sheer dresses and heavy coats at Louis Vuitton & Prada, F/W ’13.

  • Vintage inspired sheer, lace or silk slips work best for the noir theme. Add beading embellishments for a more glamorously evening take.
  • To keep this look from feeling stuck in the past and instead giving it that modern edge, add dishevelled wet look hair. The new noir vixen isn’t too polished.
  • Fur (or faux fur) coats work perfectly, as do heavy wool coats with slightly masculine shoulders.

Sheer vs heavy: grunge.

An alternative mood to indulge in is to go full grunge. The messy hair and smudged eyes are still present, but so is the soul of the ’90s. Saint Laurent did it best with spider web lace layered under long coats.

grunge winter layering
Sheer dresses and heavy coats gone grunge at Saint Laurent, F/W ’13.

  • For the grungy mood, look for slips in satin or abstracted lace, paired with coats in leather, fur, or plaid.
  • Saint Laurent added fishnets and boots. You can also smarten the look up with a pair of pumps.
  • Be wary of vintage pieces that are too worn or that lack quality, you’re best looking for those still in great condition. Modern grunge has some glamour and a bit of polish.
  • Some smudgy kohl eyeliner is the perfect accompaniment.

Light vs heavy: open weave.

Another option for mixing light and heavy is with an open-weave knit under a warm coat. As with the options above, the warmth of the coat negates the icy wind creeping in through the holes of the knit, and you can wrap it tight around yourself as you stride from taxi to venue.

open weave knits for winter
Open weave knit and heavy jacket at Missoni, F/W ’13.

Dare factor: plunging jackets.

If you wanted a simple guideline for sexy winter dressing it’s probably this: choose one thing to expose and cover all else. That’s where you’ll find balance between comfort and suffering, looking appropriate and looking hot. A peep of midriff in between heavy wool pants, a cropped knit and a jacket. A hint of thigh between a skirt and high-high boots. A jacket worn shirtless exposing a sweep of décolletage.

The latter was one of the most popular examples to grace the fall runways. It’s not great for the office, but can be perfectly elegant yet sexy after hours, or viable during the day with an invisibly low-punging top underneath.

plunging jacket for winter
Plunging neckline at Thyeskens Theory, F/W ’13.

Plunging coat-dresses.

Frocked coats mixing pure sophistication with a hint of sex appeal can serve well in forms from the ’50s inspired, full-skirted kind to the ’40s inspired and fur-lined. Naught else needed to make up a daringly divine outfit.

plunging frock coats
Plunging necklines at Dior and Franceso Scognamiglio, F/W ’13.

Plunging layers.

To foster an even more practical approach, go for layers – without covering the dipping neckline that keeps the whole thing looking high-impact. A long, heavy, relaxed winter coat worn open over the top of another plunging jacket makes for a chic wintery look.

plunging layers winter
Plunging jackets at Theyskens Theory and Max Mara, F/W ’13.

Plunge cut suiting.

The classic tailored pant suit is a winter staple, but more the sexier if cut low in the front and worn bare. This makes for a wise winter investment since by day, you need only add a blouse, crisp white shirt or roll-neck sweater underneath.

plunging suit jackets
Plunging jackets at Blumarine, F/W ’13.

Other key pieces.

If we go by the guideline to expose one thing and keep the rest of the outfit warm with thick, heavy fabrics, than the fall 2013 runways offered up two more key pieces you should consider.

The button-up worn off shoulder.

An invention of the Prada mind, anything with buttons and enough of a wide neckline can be partially undone and worn off-shoulder. Prada did it with layers of wool waistcoats and knits, but you can experiment with anything from cardigans to heavy knit dresses for your own sensual dishevelment.

off shoulder clothing for winter
Off the shoulder appeal at Prada, F/W ’13.

The leather slit skirt.

How to take the slit skirt to winter: with leather. A serving of thigh was on display at the likes of Loewe and Guy Laroche, with the leather material of choice keeping it edgy and perfect for the cold weather.

leather slit skirts
Leather skirts at Loewe and Guy Laroche, F/W ’13.

peek-a-boo tunics: slit-slashed skirts for fall

Peek-a-boo tunics: slit-slashed skirts for fall

On the topic of how to dress sexy in winter, here's another item of clothing that popped up on the fall runways, offering another option for baring a hint of skin from the knee up. With peek-a-boo skirt slashes, it's the humble skirt's way of getting interesting as the cold weather sets in.

More fall fashion.

Want more trend reports and styling inspiration for the season? Whether ultra-sexy or simply the pinnacle of stylish dressing, you can read more at our fall / winter 2013 fashion guide.

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Some people's wardrobes are about a small selection of pieces that all fit within one aesthetic - Tania Braukamper isn't such a person. With a wardrobe that spans three different rooms, her approach to fashion is a mixture of current-season key pieces mixed with vintage finds she's sourced on innumerous shopping trips around the world's more cultured capitals. Despite a disparate approach to shopping, Tania is adamant that the key to mixing vintage with new season is to stick to key looks and colours that work for oneself. And it's a theory that she works into her writing for Fashionising.com, where she serves as the publication's Editor.