How Do I Choose the Best Winter Underwear?

Dan Cavallari

The first and most obvious step in choosing the best winter underwear is to find a set that fits you properly; this may mean choosing a snug-fitting set that will fit under your clothing without bunching up, or it may mean choosing a set that is loose enough to be comfortable for you. You should also decide where you are most likely to use the winter underwear: athletes and people who are active outdoors during the winter will want to choose performance underwear, while someone who will simply be going to work and home will not need to invest as much money into performance underwear.

People who will be active during the winter should choose performance underwear.
People who will be active during the winter should choose performance underwear.

If you plan on doing any athletic activities outdoors during the winter, you will want to choose performance winter underwear because this type of underwear is made of moisture-wicking fabric that will keep moisture away from your skin. This will in turn keep you warmer and drier, and it will help prevent chafing and other discomfort. These fabrics are usually synthetic, fast-drying, and lightweight. It is not uncommon for this type of winter underwear to fit snugly to the skin to aid its moisture-wicking capabilities and to improve mobility during athletic activities.

For most people, the best type of winter underwear features a mix of natural and synthetic fibers.
For most people, the best type of winter underwear features a mix of natural and synthetic fibers.

The drawback of performance winter underwear is its price. It will be more expensive than other types of winter underwear, and if you intend to wear the underwear to work or school, you may find it a bad choice because synthetic fibers tend to collect and hold body odor, even after it has been washed numerous times. Instead, you may want to consider less expensive underwear made from natural fibers such as wool or even cotton. Cotton does, unfortunately, tend to get wet and stay wet for a long time, thereby preventing the body from retaining heat. Wool is a great choice, but it does tend to be itchy.

The best choice for a non-athlete in the winter is a set of underwear made from a natural and synthetic fiber blend. Wool is often combined with polypropylene or even polyester to form garments that are lightweight, breathable, warm, and fast-drying. This type of garment will also prevent the itch commonly associated with wool. The trade-off here is that the garments are likely to be more expensive than cotton garments, or even full wool garments. Sometimes the blended garments are even more expensive than full synthetic garments, so you will need to consider your budget before purchasing.

Winter underwear should keep a person warm and dry.
Winter underwear should keep a person warm and dry.

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Discussion Comments


@umbra21 - The best thing for pilling is to prevent it by getting fabric that won't pill. There are some kinds of really good wools that won't, and I believe some synthetic fabrics don't either. Generally they put something on the label if it's pill-free.

You can also stop it pilling by turning clothes inside out when washing them, and drying them on a line outside (or even inside) if you can, rather than putting them in a dryer.

If you've already got it pilling a little there are special pill-removers you can use, or you can try to carefully cut the pills off with a razor or scissors... but it's really easy to damage the fabric, so be careful if you choose to do this!


@indigomoth - I do that sometimes as well. Although I do find that since I always wear it under other clothes, my thermal underwear tends to pill faster than other clothes do which is annoying.

I find it works pretty well with tops as well. And if you get the right combination of styles, it means you can keep wearing clothes that are meant for warming temperatures by matching them up and layering them with your thermal underwear.

I try to get it in neutral colors or patterns which will go with anything.

But I do have one pair of thermal tights which are in a rainbow pattern. I save them for the worst winter days.


One of my favorite combinations in winter is to wear a brightly colored pair of long underwear with a skirt. If you can find a nice pattern (and there are more and more good patterns available every year it seems) it looks just like a pair of tights.

The only problem I find with it is that I like to wear the right kind of shoes with a skirt and they sometimes reveal the bottoms of the long underwear's legs.

To solve that I either find long underwear with closed legs, or I wear ankle boots.

Ankle boots are really cute to wear over winter anyway (and pretty much any season really) so it works out well.

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