The Balaclava Is The Surprising Fashion Accessory Of Winter (Yes, Really)

Say hello to a warm head.

Paola Locatelli wearing a yellow balaclava

by Natalie Hammond |
Updated on

It’s official: winter isn’t coming – it’s here. And while it’s tempting to hold on to the bare-legs abandon of warmer times, you’ve got to face facts: the cold weather is just getting started. The A-listers have opted for a surprisingly immersive approach to the seasonal change at the beginning of winter. And far from going into hibernation mode, Hailey Bieber has been stepping out with the most extreme of all the extreme-weather accessories as a plus one: a balaclava.

Paola Locatella wearing a balaclava
Paola Locatelli ©Getty

A beanie hat will always be a winter staple, but it doesn’t quite match the warmth factor of a balaclava, which covers your head, ears and neck so that you’re truly prepared for icier temperatures. Because this is Bieber, hers didn’t look cosy but dangerously chic. She paired it with a sky-high minidress, an ankle-sweeping trench coat and a pair of point-toe pumps. That’s one way to go if you want to resist the siren call of wearing 100% wool for as long as possible. If, on the other hand, you desire nothing more than to hunker down for the foreseeable, feel free to style yours with layer upon layer of knitwear until it’s safe to emerge.

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 05: A fashion week guest seen wearing a grey knit balaclava with pearls and a black leather coat before the Ottolinger show on March 05, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images)

The high street has fallen for the balaclava, with perfectly snug iterations at COS, Zara and Free People, whose stripy number will be the cherry on top of all your winter ’fits. Rise & Fall’s is made of a cashmere-wool blend, available in seven gorgeous shades and scores versatility points because it can be worn either as a balaclava or pulled down as a neck-warmer-hood hybrid. When styling yours, opt for a neutral shade, such as navy, grey or beige, for a perfect match to all your outerwear, or boldly go for a bright contrast colour.

If you’re feeling crafty, you could knit your own. Amsterdam-based Rows has a pattern inspired by vintage balaclavas that you can buy online for under a fiver. Start now and you might be done by the start of next winter.

SHOP: The Best, Most Wearable Balaclavas

Raey's cashmere-blend jumper has a snug fit around the face, as well as an impressively soft handle, to keep you warm as the temperature drops.

Rise & Fall's sell-out cashmere-wool hood has a more relaxed fit - and there are six delightful shades to chose from.

Arket's cashmere hood is so soft, so comfortable that you might find you start wearing it all day, every day.

This jewel-bright balaclava will definitely cheer up your commute, especially because your ears will be toasty warm.

COS' balaclava comes with a difference, namely quilted ties that you can knot underneath your chin for extra warmth points when it's truly peaky.

Chinti & Parker's knitted balaclava will go with everything in your wardrobe.

Zara's cream balaclava has a snap-button fastening so you can tighten it around your neck.

H&M, Cashmere Balaclava
Price: £44.99

This biscuity cashmere balaclava gets the quiet luxury seal of approval.

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