This week it started to feel properly cold in London. I began sleeping under a thicker duvet, pulled out my Lois Avery cashmere scarf, and packed away all of my ballet flats (it’s officially ankle boot season).
And now that autumn/winter 2018 has made its presence felt, I wanted to share my tips for purchasing a winter coat. Along with shopping for jeans and bras, searching for the perfect coat is one of my least favourite activities. And, I’ll be honest: this is mostly because I have a deep dislike of cold weather, and resent having to wear layers of any kind.
But, to make the shopping process easier, I thought I’d highlight 5 of the most important factors to consider when you’re searching for the perfect winter coat. Read on, and let me know if they help you streamline your AW18 edit…
5 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Winter Coat
1. The Colour
I think we so often feel like we’re supposed to purchase winter coats in “sensible” dark colours. Coats are pretty expensive – and we have to wear them for such a long time – so cost-per-wear plays a big part in the decision making process. And 9 times out of 10 that results in a semi-boring, black coat.
But, here’s the thing: black isn’t always the best option. In fact, oftentimes it’s the worst choice you could make. I’ve never brought into the theory that black flatters everyone, and some colour experts actually suggest that 4 out of 5 people do not look good in black clothing. (I don’t think black flatters me, and I try not to wear it too often).
So before you purchase another timeless black coat, take a long look in the mirror. Is it draining the colour from your complexion, or making you appear tired or older? Answer these questions honestly, and if you suspect it’s not the most flattering choice for you experiment with a charcoal grey, bottle green, navy blue, burgundy or deep raspberry instead.
I’m Wearing: Pink coat by Mint Velvet (gift) | Lace blouse by Monsoon (past season – similar here) | Jeans by ASOS | Pink trainers by Nike | Handbag by Kate Spade New York (gift) | Sunglasses by Ray-Ban
2. The Fit
One of the most irritating things about the fashion industry is the fact that most of the best winter coats arrive in stores during August or early September. And no one really wants to think about 4°C temperatures when it’s still relatively warm outside.
This bizarre practise also makes it challenging to find the perfect fit when shopping for a winter coat. Because it’s hard to tell how designs will sit over chunky knits when you’re trying them on over flimsy summer dresses.
To solve this problem I usually head into the fitting room with a few sweaters from the shop floor, and try on any winter coats with layers worn underneath. This way you can gauge whether you’ll need to size up or down. I often find that the sleeves become too tight on many coats once you place a knit underneath, and it’s always helpful to know this before you make a purchase.
3. The Feel
Let’s be honest, we’re probably going to be stuck in our winter coats until early April. So the most important question to ask yourself when shopping for a coat is, “Does this make me feel good?”
If the answer is no do not buy it!
The 6 month period between October and April is going to feel so much longer if you’re stuck wearing something that makes you feel frumpy or unattractive. So keep searching until you find a winter coat that makes you feel like your best self!
I’m Wearing: Parka by Hush (past season – similar here) | Lace blouse by Monsoon (past season – similar here) | Jeans by ASOS | Buckle boots by Mint Velvet (gift) | Handbag by Aspinal of London (gift) | Sunglasses by Jimmy Fairly (gift)
4. The Material
If you listened to the Let’s Discuss episode about eco-friendly lifestyle choices you will know that I no longer purchase faux fur (I don’t wear real fur either).
I had always vaguely known that faux fur wasn’t great for the environment, but I didn’t realise quite how damaging it is until earlier this year. As reported by the Financial Times, “Most faux furs are made from non-renewable plastics that take hundreds of years to biodegrade, [shedding] micro beads with every wash, increasing sea pollution.”
And that ain’t good!
I will continue to wear the faux fur designs that are already hanging in my wardrobe – like this Hush parka from AW17. But I no longer want to support the production of faux fur by purchasing any more.
If you’re also passionate about reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans it might be something you want to consider too. Although it’s important to note that the fashion industry produces so much pollution, and faux fur isn’t the one and only culprit.
5. The Quality
And sticking with the environmental theme for a moment, it’s so important to think about quality when shopping for a winter coat. We will all benefit from becoming more conscious consumers. So look for designs that you’ll be able to revisit in winters to come.
I tend to buy a new coat each autumn. But I always choose styles that will stand the test of time. So over the course of my twenties I’ve compiled a lovely collection of timeless winter coats, and I’ll continue to wear most of them well into my thirties.
Do you have any top tips for purchasing a winter coat? Share your thoughts and advice in the comments section below…
Photos by Victoria Metaxas