If there is one wardrobe staple that gets a lot of play every winter, it’s your coat. It doesn’t matter how well cut your pants are or how striking your sweater is, and even if you live someplace only a little bit chilly, most people will see your coat more than your other attire combined.
Not only that, coats are more expensive than most other items of clothing, so it can be harder to get past spending a small fortune on the wrong one.
Some tips and trends to consider when choosing a coat this season:
According to Michelle Madhok, author of Wear This Now (Harlequin, 2012), oversized & boxy coats are a hot trend this season as seen on the fall runways at Jil Sander, Chanel and Stella McCartney. Some details to look for include color block linings, oversized 1980s inspired shoulder pads and fabric draping.
Whatever you call it, burgundy, oxblood or wine red, it’s the color this season. Kate Middleton has been spotted wearing maroon and deep red topcoats all season. According to Madhok, “You cannot go wrong with a coat in this color.”
This trend emerged a few seasons ago and is still going strong. Notable details include gold or brass buttons and army-inspired detailing on classic neutral colors like navy, green or grey.
Mix it Up
Nancy Le Winter, Editorial Director of OneStopPlus.com believes that “A mix of textures can make an ordinary coat interesting, such as wool adorned with leather trimmed pockets. These kinds of details allow coats to be more of a statement piece instead of just another layer to keep warm.”
That said, if you’re choosing a heavily detailed coat, try for a very neutral or basic color so it won’t look dated.
To puffer or not to puffer?
Though once limited to the ski slopes, down and thermal lined jackets now seem to have a place in nearly everyone’s closet. So how do you choose a flattering and not too puffy puffer coat?
LeWinter says being comfortable is key. “The puffer jacket is one of the most versatile styles from casual, to office, to a night out on the town. If your puffer coat keeps you warm, and you can wear it confidently, go for it!”
She continues, “Puffer coats no longer come in the big marshmallow variety, today there are many different cuts, lengths, styles and accessories such as belts, that can make a puffy coat figure-flattering. You can show off your shape AND keep warm. It’s a win win.”
Madhok advises a slim version, preferably with a nipped or belted waist.
Coats for Him
So what about the guy in your life, is he still restricted to a boring topcoat or jacket?
According to Lisa Walters, co-founder of www.mindthechap.com, “Every guy needs a great leather/suede, wool stadium coat- toggle/button-up, ski parka (for those super cold or more active days), formal knee length top coat for suits/special occasions and a hunting jacket (either wax/oiled).”
If you buy quality, several of these can last for many years and can be a great investment in our outerwear wardrobe.
Walters is a fan of olive or forest green, dark brown/chocolate, navy, or camo for a trendier look. She says, “Our favorite fabrics for outerwear this season are wax canvas, wool, cotton duck/treated and leather/suede.”
Women seem to have an extensive array of winter accessories available, but what about your guy? Walters says accessories like a wool or cashmere scarf are classic and stylish.
“We love multi-color plaids and stripes to give versatility and dress up/down your outerwear wardrobe.” She also believes that great leather gloves are a must. “Either super simple or with more interesting detail, depending on the coat.”
And what about hats for him? Walters says to try a fedora or brimmed wool hat (porkpie, etc) and a warm knit cap for longer outdoor periods.
Time for a New Coat
So how do you know when it’s time to invest in a new topper? Madhok says it’s time for a new coat when your current topper is dated or the cost to repair it exceeds the price of buying a replacement.
LeWinter says not to be afraid to splurge on a quality coat that will last you a few years. “Investing in a classic shape is always a safe bet, as it will most likely not go out of style next season, but this season there are some exciting new trends at great prices, like faux fur vests and jackets. So splurge on the quality classic coat, but steal some style with inexpensive trend items.”
(And if you’re looking for a real steal, XOXO is running a Black Friday promotion on November 23rd when the price of their bright, pea coats will be slashed from $99.00 to $29.99 exclusively at Macy’s and Macys.com)
Rachel Weingarten dares you to buy a jewel-toned coat this winter. She’s a style expert, marketing strategist & personal branding consultant for CEOs, politicians and celebrities and the creator of MintStyle. Rachel is the award-winning author of Career and Corporate Cool and Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America ‘40s-‘60s. Visit her online at http://racheletc.com or on Twitter @rachelcw Write to her with your burning style questions at email@example.com