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How to purchase the ideal winter coat for warmth, style, and a boost in self-esteem


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This is a significant decision. Huge. The decision you make here will affect how you feel when you walk out your door, pretty much every time you leave the house for the next six months. No pressure, but you have to get this right.

A good coat can make or break your winter. There is a coat out there that will not only make a cold day bearable, but will actually make wrapping up and venturing out into the cold appealing. When you are properly dressed for the elements, there is something very satisfying about being out in them. Instead of skulking out of the room when someone else does, you’ll start suggesting a walk before lunch.

But warm and dry is just the starting point. The ideal coat is much more than that. It’s a complete mood. It has you leaving the house in a cloud of confidence, your mood lifted, and your chin up, just like a spritz of your favorite scent. And the mood of your coat is important because, for the majority of people you meet during the colder months, your coat is your first impression. When you approach a reception desk, open a restaurant door, or arrive at school for a parent-teacher evening, your coat tells people who you are.

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So you must strike a balance between practical considerations and a coat that makes you happy. If you have a muddy dog or cycle to work, it’s pointless to buy an elegant, white dry-clean-only trenchcoat that makes you feel like a movie star. However, there is no point in spending your hard-earned money on a drably practical easy-care number that kills the style of your outfits and slumps your shoulders the moment you put it on. You might as well stay at home if you’re going to do that.

Obviously, weatherproofing is important. If you’re the type who walks to work even when it’s raining, you’ll need a large hood and a water-resistant fabric. If you spend a lot of time outside, you’ll want something like the Uniqlo coat (above right): thick padding, a high neck to keep the chill out without a scarf, and a drawstring waist for extra draught protection.

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The warmest coat, however, isn’t always the most practical. Much depends on what you wear underneath. If your go-to winter outfit is a chunky, roll-neck bum-length knit and jeans, an open-neck jacket style like our gorgeous pre-loved pillarbox-red Acne shearling number (above left) might be ideal.

If you prefer to wear a floaty midi-length dress with tights and boots as the temperature drops, you’ll need a coat that’s also below the knee or midi-length – for neater hemlines and to keep your legs warm. Also, two layers of structured shoulders will not work. It has a lumpy appearance and feels stiff and uncomfortable. So, if you spend your days in suits, you need something warm but not stiff: a camel coat, like the one from Mango (above center), which is very similar to Max Mara’s iconic version, is ideal.

Color is where you can have some fun, so don’t be afraid to experiment. If you typically wear black or neutrals, a coat in a bright red or pink would be ideal for you. After all, it won’t clash with your outfit.

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And a color that feels too loud and intense to wear all day can look stunning in a coat. It transforms into a shot of energy, a superhero cloak for when you need it the most – at the start and end of the day – and it can be hung on the back of a door for the hours in between so you don’t get tired of looking at it.

If a bold color is too much for you, how about a softer neutral? Camel looks great with black and even better with a bright scarf and gloves when the weather turns cold.

Any old coat will keep you warm. However, the right coat will keep you warm on the inside as well.

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