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The most stylish New Yorkers all share a secret when it comes to winter dressing. In a sea of bulky puffer coats and too-thick knits and clunky boots, the people who survive—and survive chicly—in a simple wool overcoat, jeans, and a sweater when it’s below freezing outside are layering up in Uniqlo HeatTech.

I’ve lived in this cold, cold city for going on six years, and it wasn’t until I discovered HeatTech that I actually started to enjoy—not just survive, but actually enjoy—winter. Uniqlo had always been “that big ass store that makes really good basics,” but upon my discovery of HeatTech, Uniqlo is now “my favorite store in the whole wide world that can do absolutely no wrong and, in fact, has some apparel that is truly magical.”

Uniqlo’s HeatTech line of soft, thin, lightweight yet incredibly warm innerwear and thermal underwear fits like a second skin. When it’s cold enough to warrant layering, you can bet I’m layering with HeatTech, because otherwise, I’d have to wear twice as much for half the warmth. Between the three fundamental, quintessential HeatTech products— the Ultra Warm Crew Neck Long-Sleeve T-Shirt, Ultra Warm Tights, and Pile-Lined Socks—you’ll never catch me complaining about the weather again. And while the rest of you are bundled up under thick blankets inside, too afraid of the ten-degree air, I’ll be outside in my HeatTech.

SHOP LONG-SLEEVE $30, uniqlo.com

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JOE LINGEMAN

It’s incredibly soft and stretchy.

Before I discovered the simple joy that is HeatTech, I tried other kinds of thermal underwear and fleece-lined tights and wooly jeans and anything else you could imagine for some warmth. They all, comparatively, sucked.

The beauty of HeatTech lies in how soft and cozy each product is. The pieces are specially knit to trap heat, and the knits—a combination of polyester, acrylic, rayon, and spandex—are brushed for an extra-soft feel. Most other thermal underwear is either too scratchy, too thick, too expensive, or all three. Uniqlo, on the other hand, is known for affordable prices on high-quality basics, and the value proposition doesn’t waver when it comes to HeatTech.

The Ultra Warm Crew Neck Long-Sleeve T-Shirt is softer than some sweaters I own. It has the easy comfort of a regular tee, and feels only marginally thicker, but isn’t so thick that you can’t have a full range of motion and major flexibility thanks to the Ultra Stretch tech. The Ultra Warm Tights—which are more like leggings, an don’t bunch or sag the way that traditional tights do—are just as soft, and once you get past the shrunken look of them and actually step in, the stretchiness feels akin to a magic trick. And then there are the Pile-Lined Socks. They look like normal socks, they feel like normal socks, but they reach up to your mid-calf, aren’t too tight, and provide the heat of a thick, fuzzy pair you’d find in your stocking on Christmas morning. And since your hands and feet tend to feel the cold first, I never step into my shoes without these socks on.

SHOP TIGHTS $30, uniqlo.com

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JOE LINGEMAN

The fabric adjusts to your body.

If you tend to overheat quickly, layering can be a nightmare. Personally, I’m hesitant to layer even a tee underneath a hoodie if it’s over 40 degrees, and nothing sounds worse to me than sweating under a puffer, sweater, and undershirt on a packed train car during my morning commute. Here’s the magic of HeatTech, though: It keeps me warm when it’s snowing outside, but I won’t be too warm if it’s 70 degrees inside.

Thanks to the thermo-regulating fabric, HeatTech keeps the warmth in by trapping air but also has breathable, moisture-wicking, anti-odor technology that lets air escape. So you won’t be feeling the cold, but you won’t be trapped in too much heat.

With other heat-retention gear, my major gripe was this: After a few wears and washes, clothes tend to lose their shape, and looser fits mean more channels for cold air to sneak into. With HeatTech, though, I’ve noticed that the shape retention is immaculate. Plus, Uniqlo has been improving and building upon the line for years; the latest HeatTech pieces boast fabric that’s more than twice as warm as older iterations. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

SHOP SOCKS $8, uniqlo.com

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JOE LINGEMAN

And it couldn’t be easier to layer with.

The question on everyone’s mind come winter, aside from how to stay warm, is how to layer in a way that is both fashionable and functional. We’ve already established that HeatTech takes the guesswork out of the functionality side, and let me assure you—these pieces are so thin, layering is even more seamless than it is with your other winter gear.

With the long-sleeve T-shirt, Uniqlo features a design that can be worn solo or under a sweater or button-down. Personally, I wear it under sweaters that might otherwise be too thin for a chilly day. Bottom layer: HeatTech. Middle layer: a sweater or shirt of your choosing. Outer layer: any jacket or coat you like.

I’ve always been a proponent of wearing tights under your pants to add some extra warmth in winter, but it’s always been a hassle. The tights bunch up and rip, they can make slim-fitting pants feel too tight, and at the end of the day, who the hell wants to be wearing two pairs of pants? Well, me. That’s who. As long as the Ultra Warm Tights are underneath whatever loose, billowy, breezy bottoms I’m wearing, I’m warm and cozy as can be, and the tights are so seamless that I literally forget I’m wearing them. And with my Pile-Lined Socks on, too? Yeah, the cold has nothing on me.


Photography by Joe Lingeman. Prop styling by Andrea Bonin.

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