The Indispensible Winter Holiday Packing List

This article was first published on Stylizen on 18th December 2014

mage: Rita Galkina via

mage: Rita Galkina via

Whether you’re jetting off for Christmas in Canada, New Year in New York or exploring Europe all winter long, it can be hard to get into the winter wardrobe frame of mind when you’re packing in the height of summer. And even if you’re going from cold place to even colder place, it can be tempting to take every remotely warm looking item you own just to avoid freezing to death. But it’s not impossible. Take a deep breath. Relax. Put that last item back in your drawer (yes 10 jumpers is probably one too many), sit down and have a read of this.

As I have previously admitted, I used to be a big fan of chucking anything and everything into my suitcase, on the off chance that at some point it may come in handy. It rarely did. Clothes required for winter holidays are generally thicker, larger and heavier (particularly if you’re heading off to the snow) so there really is no room for items that aren’t essential for your vacation plans. Thanks to practical experience and my mother’s wisdom (they really do know best!) I have finally whittled my winter holiday packing list down to the must-haves, leaving me with plenty of room to fill with new purchases should I happen to go shopping (inevitable). So forget your concerns about excess baggage charges and simply follow our ultimate winter holiday packing list of the “base” (essentials) and a few extra items to “build” on your capsule wardrobe to ease overpackers in slowly.


1. Underwear

A no-brainer really.  Five pairs of undies and two bras (one black, one white or nude) should suffice.

2. Thermals

If you’re heading to a very cold destination, thermals are a must. While not the most attractive looking garments, you’ll be grateful for that extra layer – trust us.

3. Jeans (x2)

A practical and stylish staple, you’ll never be more thankful for a great pair of jeans than on a winter holiday. You don’t have to worry about creases plus the fact they won’t betray you if you haven’t had time to wash them yet (in fact they look better the more you wear them!) makes them the perfect bottoms to include in your winter wardrobe. Two pairs are ideal (one black, one blue) and we recommend sticking to skinny styles in darker washes.

4. Coat

As your outerwear in cold climates, you want your coat to look great but more importantly keep you warm. Luckily there are plenty of options and styles to suit everyone. A parka in traditional khaki or black is a fantastic choice for the cold and rain, while a quilted/puffy explorer style coat is light and extremely popular in Europe. Practicality should be the main concern if you’re taking just one coat, so we love the fashionable styling of this reversible Herno coat.

5. Jacket

A lighter jacket is a great layering tool or alternative for when the weather isn’t so cold. You can’t go past a great leather jacket, which looks stylish and will also keep you warm. While slightly heavier than other jacket alternatives (bomber or blazer style) you’ll be surprised just how much wear you get out of it.

6. Boots

Comfy flat boots that will last the distance (literally!) are absolutely essential for any winter holiday. Nothing is worse than being crippled by blisters on the first day on your feet, so make sure to break any new boots in before you leave. Black is the most versatile option, while a military style look is both fashionable and functional.

7. Scarf

A knitted scarf is a go-to for warmth, although a thick snood will also do. There’s something a bit luxurious about white or camel in winter, or add some colour with a splash of red.

8. Jumper

A warm jumper is an absolute must, although you really have free reign over colours and styles. Cashmere in pastels makes for a pretty outfit, while darker colours will last longer without washing.

9. Turtleneck

An essential layering tool (which has also recently enjoyed a sartorial comeback) is the turtleneck. Pair it with your jeans or wear under or over your dress. For maximum versatility go for a staple colour – you can’t go wrong with black or navy!

10. Long Sleeved Top

Another key layering tool, the long sleeved shirt in black or what can be worn as an extra layer to keep warm, or a simple but classic staple top for your outfits.

11. Tunic/Body Con Dress

This is definitely the most versatile piece you can pick. A dress (preferably long sleeved) can be worn so many ways – as a dress for night with tights, worn under a top to look like a skirt or tucked into your jeans to create a dressy top. Choose a jersey for wearability or a more luxe looking fabric like velvet or something with shine. Darker colours like black, maroon or midnight blue work well, but a print or texture is also a good way to add a pop of colour.

12. Heels

Closed toe heels or heeled boots are great for dressing up a winter outfit for evening. Leather will be the most durable, but other materials can also suit if they are treated correctly before you go out

13. Gloves

Leather gloves are warm, long-lasting and add instant fashion cred to any winter ensemble. Otherwise your options are a soft pair in a matching or complementary colour to your scarf.

14. Hat

Go strictly stylish with a felt hat in rich colours or have fun with your headwear with a cute bobble beanie.


15.  Small Day Bag

A small, crossbody bag is handy for days spent walking around and also good for safety as you can keep it close to your body. A neutral colour (our favourite black!) ensures it will go with everything.

16. Tights

Black opaque tights are an absolutely must have for a winter holiday. Wear them under a dress or a skirt to make them cold weather appropriate or even use them as a thermal alternative under pants if it’s super cold.

17. Statement Necklace

A bold necklace will instantly dress up any outfit, even if it’s just your plain long sleeved top or turtleneck and jeans. The bigger the better, although keep in mind choose one too heavy and that’s less space in your suitcase for other things!

18. Red Lipstick

The stylish woman’s secret weapon, a red lipstick is tiny enough to fit in any bag or coat pocket. One lick of crimson colour will see you ready for any occasion and make you look and feel fantastic– even if you’ve just stepped off a long haul flight after no sleep.


19.  Dress

If you’re planning to do plenty of partying, a killer dress is a must. Choose something fabulous that signals it’s for good times in the evening only.

20. Skiing Suit

If you’re hitting the slopes, channel your inner fashion icon with a designer take on traditional skiwear. It’s all about looking good, right?

21. Chic Cape/Second Coat

If you’ve got the room or want more choice for your outerwear, treat yourself with a gorgeously chic coat or cape in a luxurious fabric. You’ll feel fabulous for it!

22. Clutch

A clutch is always handy for evenings out, but choose one with either a hand strap or detachable chain for extra convenience. Flat fabric clutches are easier to pack and can also be used as an insert in bigger bags to hold your essentials.

23. Crop Jumper

A fun little layering extra, a crop jumper is great to play with proportions of an outfit. It’s certainly not essential but useful nonetheless.

24.  Skirt

Adding a skirt to your travelling winter wardrobe will give you more to mix and match with for both night and day. Dress up with tight, heels, turtleneck and statement necklace, or dress down with a jumper and boots for day.