The timeless styles to invest in (and if you already have, how to wear them)
When I was a fashion editor at newspapers and glossy magazines, we spent A LOT of time writing about coats, and whatever trends might be hot that particular season. But with retrospect, I really don’t think you need to buy a winter coat very often because the styles and trends don’t actually change that much year-on-year. Not to mention that a good winter coat is expensive – when it’s a proper investment, you don’t want to end up with something that will look dated next year. All of the coats I’m wearing here have been in my wardrobe for years, and I love them so much I get genuinely excited about the mercury dropping and it being time to unpack them.
So, these are my top three styles; the tried and tested that haven’t gone out of style, work with loads of different outfits, and that I wouldn’t be without.
When I got this sherpa jacket from Urban Outfitters about 12 years ago, it was, at the time, one of the most expensive items I had ever bought (until I went to the Preen sample sale a few years later- see below), but it wasn’t my first sherpa. During my first year at university in 1995, I had a vintage pale blue corduroy Levi’s one. I LOVED IT. It even helped me make friends because a boy on my course had the same one in a slightly darker shade. It had rust marks on it and eventually fell apart, but if it hadn’t I would probably still wear it now.
There’s something about the sherpa that instantly gives a timeless cool edge to any outfit. While it looks brilliant with jeans, I also like to pair mine with long floral dresses and chunky boots.
The tailored coat
I’ve used an old picture here (and top) of me at New York Fashion Week about five years ago. The news was running reports of it being “dangerously cold”, and you weren’t meant to be outside for longer than twenty minutes at a time. If that’s not a genuine tried and tested winter coat experience, then I don’t know what is! This particular one might also fall into the ‘batshit crazy statement coat’ category, but what I’m actually going with here is tailored. Whether that’s a Crombie-style (my favourite), double breasted or dressing-gown, the key is to find something at least knee-length in a warm fabric like wool or felt, with a smart collar and a smart structure.
Of course, it’s easy to find this style of coat in black, navy or grey, which would be incredibly practical (and in fact, I also have a similar one in grey, albeit with a reversible bright yellow lining, which I’ve had for nearly 10 years), but I’ve found this checked one from Preen surprisingly easy to integrate into my wardrobe. You could also try a camel coat, which never goes out of style; if you want to amp up the interest, look for a nice texture or a flash of colour. Pair with absolutely everything, including your workwear.
This is hands down the most worn coat in my wardrobe. I’ve always been a parka fan, but this one is next level for so many reasons. As you can see, it looks really cool, but it’s not so “fashion” that I can’t wear it to walk the dog every morning (which I do). It has excellent pockets, not just in terms of the quantity (two high zip pockets plus two hand pockets which are big enough to fit a bottle of wine each!) but quality, too (the pockets are fleece lined which is a blessing when I’ve forgotten my gloves). It’s waterproof, has a handy two-way zip (I always need to unzip from the bottom when I’m driving) and has a snuggly fleece lining. These are the kind of details I would advise looking for when choosing a parka for yourself.
Parkas obviously look great with casual wear, but I absolutely love throwing one over my best posh frock come party season.
All of these styles are easy to find second hand but if you’re buying new, remember to check the sustainable and ethical credentials of the brand you’re using your spending power with. If in doubt, use the Good On You app as a guide or check out my Alternative Shopping Directory.