Skip to Content

What to Wear in Seattle in Winter: A Complete Packing List

What to Wear in Seattle in Winter: A Complete Packing List

Sharing is caring!

Seattle has its own unique vibe, especially when it comes to dressing for the winter months. In this guide, you’ll discover what to wear in Seattle in winter, including clothing suggestions and tips for staying warm while still looking stylish.

Unlike some other US cities, Seattle tends to have milder winters. Temperatures range from cool (48°F/9°C) to chilly (39°F/4°C) with occasional rain.

But if you are well-prepared, you can easily visit most Seattle attractions, even in the colder months.

But why should you visit Seattle in winter?

Seattle may not be the first place that comes to mind for a winter vacation, you may be more tempted by New York in winter, or even somewhere like Portugal in winter (it is a tad warmer, and perhaps a tad more exotic!).

But Seattle a has a charm during this time of year. The city is less crowded, making it easier to explore and engage with locals.

Winter transforms Seattle’s surroundings into a picturesque wonderland. The city is surrounded by mountains, and if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of snow-capped peaks.

Winter in Seattle means holiday lights and decorations, adding a festive touch to the city’s already charming streets. And if you’re a coffee lover, Seattle is the perfect place to cozy up with a hot cup of joe and watch the rain fall outside.

Seattle in winter offers unique experiences that you can’t find during other seasons. You can go ice skating at one of the city’s outdoor rinks or go skiing and snowboarding outdoors.

So don’t let the colder weather stop you from experiencing all that Seattle has to offer. With the right clothing and a sense of adventure, you can have an unforgettable winter trip to this vibrant city.

Enough said! Let’s get back to the wardrobe packing list for Seattle winter.

mountains with a little bit of snow on them and a purple sky above.

The mountains surrounding Seattle make it one of the most beautiful places to visit in winter, especially if you want to try skiing or snowshoeing!

What to Wear in Seattle in Winter

Firstly, layering is key when choosing the best Seattle weather outfits. Expect a mix of temperatures throughout the day, so having layers allows you to adjust accordingly.

Start with a base layer, like a long-sleeved shirt or sweater. Add a cozy jacket or a waterproof coat to stay dry during the inevitable drizzles.

Comfortable denim or pants paired with waterproof boots will keep you warm and dry while exploring the city. Don’t forget to bring an umbrella – it’s a Seattle essential.

Now, let’s talk about the local style. Seattleites are known for their laid-back and casual fashion sense. You’ll often see people in jeans, comfortable shoes, and practical outerwear. Embrace this relaxed style, and you’ll fit right in.

While you’re out and about, ensure to have a hat and gloves handy. These small accessories can make a big difference in keeping you warm, especially if you encounter a brisk wind.

For indoor activities, like visiting coffee shops or museums, keep it casual with a nice sweater or blouse. Seattle’s indoor spaces are generally well-heated, so you won’t need heavy layers once you’re inside.

Let’s get into the details now.

1. Waterproof Jacket

To stay dry during the ever-present drizzles in Seattle, it is essential to have a reliable waterproof jacket with breathable fabric. When visiting the city in cooler months, it is advisable to bring a light to medium-weight jacket for comfort while exploring.

On colder days, a puffy jacket offers insulation and warmth. During the rainy season, a waterproof jacket with sealed seams and a hood is necessary to keep you dry from head to toe. Ensure the jacket has enough room for layering underneath.

You can’t go wrong with something like this one from Columbia or a similar style from Helly Hanson.

2. Layered Tops

Opt for long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, or fleece jackets for warmth.

Layering allows you to adjust to changing temperatures throughout the day. Also, choose fabrics that are quick-drying and moisture-wicking, as Seattle’s weather can be unpredictable.

I am a big fan of the long-sleeved jersey t-shirts from JCrew. They keep you warm, but because the fabric is thinner than a normal t-shirt, they’re perfect for layering without making you feel too hot.

3. Waterproof Boots

Comfortable and waterproof boots are essential to keep your feet dry, especially considering Seattle’s wet weather.

Choose a pair that provides good traction. As Seattle is a walking city, you’ll want to make sure your feet are comfortable while exploring the city.

You’ll no doubt see plenty of locals in boots like Dr. Martens. Thanks to the thick sole, you will keep your feet dry and warm and you can layer them with thick socks.

Alternatively, a slightly thinner-soled Chelsea boot will also do the trick.

seattle space needle with the city behind it and blue skies.

If you get a rare sunny day while you are visiting, be sure to get to the space needle for incredible views over the view and surrounding mountains.

3. Warm Pants

Jeans or other warm pants are suitable for what to wear in Seattle in winter. Ensure they are comfortable and can be easily paired with different tops. Opt for darker colors, as they are more versatile and can hide any dirt or rain splashes.

I would go for a pair of jeans and a couple of thick leggings in case you need extra warmth.  But you can also consider packing some other stylish trousers like wool or corduroy if you plan on visiting nicer restaurants or events.

If you like skirts and dresses instead, just be sure to pack a nice pair of thick tights to wear to keep your legs warm. I always buy Hue brand tights and they last me for years and don’t cost a fortune. Consider fabrics like wool or thick cotton for your skirts and dresses.

4. Hat, Gloves, and Scarf

A hat, gloves, and a scarf are essentials for what to wear in Seattle in winter. Especially if you are traveling from a warm place and aren’t quite used the chill.

A scarf not only adds a fashionable element but also provides extra warmth around your neck.

These cold-weather accessories are crucial for staying comfortable during colder spells and add a touch of style. Opt for materials like wool or fleece to keep you warm and dry.

5. Thermal Socks

Keep your feet warm with wool socks, especially if you plan on spending time outdoors. They provide an extra layer of insulation. So, don’t forget to pack them in your suitcase. Also, bring a few extra pairs, just in case.

pike place market in seattle

Pike Place Market is a fantastic place to explore and is open as normal during the winter months. Explore it without the heaving summer crowds.

6. Comfortable Sweaters

When it comes to what to wear in Seattle in winter, sweaters are the perfect layering piece. 

So, bring along sweaters or pullovers that are both warm and comfortable for winter in the city. They are perfect for indoor activities or strolls around the city. And, if you get too warm, simply remove a layer underneath.

You can’t go wrong with a Patagonia or North Face fleece. You’ll look like a total Seattle-local with those. If you prefer something a little bit more stylish, I recommend a nice thin merino wool sweater from Jcrew or Uniqlo.

7. Lightweight Base Layers

Consider wearing lightweight base layers, especially if you plan on being outdoors for an extended period. They add warmth without bulk.

For example, silk or merino wool thermals are great options that help regulate body temperature.

8. Casual Outerwear Like A Coat or Jacket

I have previously mentioned the importance of a warm and puffy jacket, but you also have the option of choosing a stylish coat or jacket to layer over your clothing. Look for something that is not too heavy and fits well, allowing you to move comfortably while exploring.

An ideal choice would be a casual and versatile coat or jacket that complements various outfits like one from The North Face or a slightly more affordable Amazon brand option. It should provide warmth without compromising on style.

aerial view of seattle with the space needle in the center and the sun behind it.

There are so many cool neighborhoods to explore while visiting Seattle in winter.

9. Indoor Comfort Wear Like Lounge Pants or Warm Leggings

For indoor activities, comfortable clothes like lounge pants or cozy leggings are perfect for what to wear in Seattle in winter.

Many indoor spaces in Seattle are well-heated, so you won’t need heavy layers indoors.

These items are also great for lounging in your accommodation after a busy day of exploring or if you want to check out some of the fun workout or yoga classes available in Seattle.

10. Sneakers

Comfortable sneakers are suitable for exploring the city and provide a casual yet practical footwear option. They’re even better if they are waterproof since, did we mention it might be raining?

Bring them along, especially if you expect to do a lot of walking in Downtown Seattle, Fremont, or anywhere else. I am a big fan of Adidas Stan Smith style sneakers, but anything you like that is comfortable to walk 10,000 or more steps in per day is great.

11. Tote Bag

A tote bag comes in handy for carrying personal items, souvenirs, water bottles, and other essentials while exploring the city.

Choose one that is durable, lightweight, and has a good amount of space to hold your belongings. Carry your essentials in a tote bag, combining functionality with style.

I usually have a few canvas bags that I’ve collected from my travels and you’ll find plenty to buy around Seattle in case you forget one. It makes for a fun and useful souvenir.

view of seattle skyline from the water.

Take a ferry to a nearby island like Bainbridge or Whidbey to get a view back over Seattle’s skyline.

12. Long Sleeve Blouses

Long-sleeved blouses provide a chic and warm option for indoor and outdoor activities in Seattle. Also, they are versatile and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

Choose materials like flannel or silk for comfort. I usually get mine from JCrew. They last a long time and are classicly stylish, so won’t go out of fashion in a year.

13. Teddy Coat

On a rain-free day in Seattle, nothing beats a teddy coat for exploring the city!

Stay fashionable and cozy in Seattle’s winter weather with a plush teddy coat that can be dressed up or down for any occasion. Opt for one with a hood to stay protected during occasional showers.

Tips for Winter Packing and Dressing in Seattle

  1. Check the weather forecast before your trip and pack accordingly.
  2. Layering is key to staying warm and comfortable in Seattle’s winter weather.
  3. Choose fabrics that are quick-drying and moisture-wicking.
  4. Opt for darker colors and versatile pieces that can be easily mixed and matched.
  5. Bring comfortable shoes with good traction for walking around the city.
  6. Don’t forget cold weather accessories like hats, gloves, scarves, and thermal socks.
  7. Consider adding lightweight base layers or workout leggings for added warmth without bulk.

Seattle is a city known for its creativity and individuality, so feel free to express yourself through your clothing choices.

And remember, with the right clothes and an adventurous spirit, you can make the most out of your winter trip to Seattle!  So, pack smart and have a great time exploring this beautiful city. Happy travels!  Keep traveling, keep exploring!