Your Coat Wardrobe Starts Here
As a masterclass in dressing for the cold, you’d think the front row of the recent Pret-a-Porter shows would have thrown up a few nuggets on the coat front. Or it would have done if it was actually that cold in September. Yes despite the hysteria and FOMO from the glossies beseeching you to buy your winter coat back in June, for 99% of the population, that is never going to happen.
So is there anything left to buy on the rails? Of course there is. In any case, coat buying should never be done in a rush. Because you need to think very carefully about what sort of coat you need.
Is it to sling on over a pair of jeans or is it something in classic, neutral tones that you can also wear to work that is required? Should it be knee-length or would it be practical if you experimented with a fashion forward, three quarter length dressing gown style? Will it be worn with trousers or skirts and dresses? You are beginning to see that not all coats were created equal.
Get the (warm) coat right, goes the thinking, and no one is going to notice what you’re wearing underneath. Which is fortunate as what I want to wear currently is a 10 tog duvet. In many ways the statement coat has become the 2016 equivalent of the once ubiquitous it bag. The difference between an ordinary coat and a statement one is small but to the aesthete’s eye easily distinguishable. What it must do is possess a knowing wink to the season’s trends.
Anyway, if there was a season for the coat, this winter is it. Before you dismiss that sentence as utter fashion twaddle, you might want to consider that it’s not every winter that coats are such a focal point of the catwalk collections. Roughly translated that means that there is an unprecedented amount of choice for the winter coat shopper.
Other good news is that these coats are mostly quite classic and come in a predominantly neutral colour spectrum, an important point this when considering your “armour” and making your most substantial sartorial investment of the year. Better still, they look as if they might keep you warm. See how promising this is all looking: a stylish coat that also serves its purpose. In fact, I’m not going to exhort you to settle for one coat either but a whole coat wardrobe if you are feeling so inclined. As many of you will realise, rare is the woman who gets through the season in just the one coat. We need different coats for different occasions; work coats and evening coats and really, really warm coats.
The Belted coat
In my fantasises, this would be double faced cashmere (unlined) and would not only be super warm yet also light and practical enough to wear on the Northern Line commute home. It would be long and lean and reek of expensive other worldliness. Unsurprisingly not many retailers opted for the double cashmere option but Reiss, Finery and Ted Baker have come up with some great versions for around the £300 mark.
Supersized coats were everywhere on the A/W catwalks but worked best in parka form, presumably because parkas are supposed to be capacious. And while they might appear outwardly casual (great worn over jeans and trousers) don’t underestimate their ability to transform your eveningwear or even dressy daywear; for nothing looks as modern as wearing a parka with a precious dress. Be sure to think carefully about the proportions though: look for a dress and coat of the same length if you haven’t got the natty confidence to pull off a dress that is an awkward four inches longer than the jacket hemline. And it will look far cooler than any fur stole or prim blazer. Fine specimens from Jaeger and Gap are to be had this season.
The Collarless coat
What other style allows you to (fine) layer for England or looks as good on shorties? Look for a style that isn’t too voluminous to avoid it gathering in unattractive folds once the coat is cinched in. Some shorter bracelet sleeves also add a whiff of the Sixties although wear it with trousers and flats so as not to appear too retro. It’s a great choice for anyone whose face or body shape benefits from a lack of fuss at the neck. Although be warned that this is one shape that looks a little odd with a hemline that is substantially longer than the coat. Head to Whistles for the definitive shaggy shearling option or LK Bennett’s pale pink version is a winner.
The puffa coat
The puffa coat trend isn’t a million miles away from the Cocoon coat of four years ago. And despite its loose fit with curved shoulders and drop sleeves, I still maintain that shorties (I’m 5ft) can get away with it if you think carefully about the proportions and include slim-ish skirts or trousers and high, blocky shoes to balance everything out. Personally I’m a fan because puffa styles looks more modish than twee, tight-fitting outwear. They also allow you to layer up as you please plus did I mention that they were wipe clean? They look best when worn long or just above the thigh. For a statement collar that has the wow factor, head to Next for its very affordable £75 mustard version.
The Crombie style coat
Extra points go to the Crombie style coat for being both fashion-forward, insanely practical as well as super classic. For the most lust-worthy pieces of the season check out those by Celine, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Stella McCcartney and then weep when you realise they cost more than a month’s salary. Still, a well-proportioned style in navy, camel or grey could be your best purchase of the next five years. The high street has cottoned onto this too which explains the truly gorgeous versions to be found at Whistles and M&S for under £300. Want to ensure that you are really warm in a Crombie style? Then learn from our stylish Swedish sisters who wear a Uniqlo feather gilet (the thinnest, warmest inner you will ever find) under their coats which guarantee to brave the harshest of Stockholm winters.