Musing on the vast number of coat options for this season it occurred to me that the choice is enough to make even the most dedicated fashionista feel she needs a little lie down.
On the plus side - well, that's obvious: you have lots and lots and lots of styles to choose from: a cape coat, a maxi coat, a 40s- or 50s-style number with or without fur, a geometric or swingy 60s-style coat, a ladylike coat, a cocoon coat, a boyfriend coat, a classic belted coat with oversize revers, fake-fur, quilted… And then, of course, there is the colour issue: do you go neutral, bright, jewel tones…
But unless your budget stretches to a coterie of coats, how do you pick one? At the risk of repeating what I said at roughly this time last year, what you buy should depend on what you plan to wear beneath your coat, in terms of style, volume and length.
For example, you will be pretty cross on a frosty November morning if you have bought a mannish-styled, on-the-knee boyfriend coat and decided that day to rock a midi skirt and bulky alpine knit. The inner and outer layers don't compute. A boyfriend coat will work perfectly, however, over pared down pieces such as a 1950s shift dress, or a pencil skirt or skinny/smoking trousers plus blouse or polo-neck jumper.
The most versatile coats are maxi or three-quarter, both of which can work over any length skirt you might own.
And as tedious as it sounds, it is worth taking a winter wardrobe inventory before you make your big coat purchase. To help you, JC fashion has found the pick of the bunch, at every price level .
Fur collars, '40s and '50s
Heavy cotton trench with pale faux fur collar, Marc by Marc Jacobs, £475 and shapely black coat with faux leopard collar, MaxMara Atelier, £1,680, both at Matches; fitted black wool with faux monkey-fur collar, £545, LK Bennett; navy, belted fur-collar trench, £100, Topshop.
Orange belted wool coat, Burberry Prorsum, £1,495, Browns; fuchsia cashmere with half belt, £1,680, Vanessa Bruno, and three-quarter length wrap coat in green, acqua or fuchsia, Diane von Furstenberg, £630, both at Matches; red swing coat, £45, F&F at Tesco; geranium pink swing coat, £89.99, Zara.
Pink tweed with peter pan collar, £110,, Warehouse; black and grey check with drop waist, £89, M&S; oatmeal swing coat with peter pan collar, £85, Topshop; tartan A-line coat with fake fur collar, £69, ASOS.
Irish wool tweed coat with big patch pockets, Stella McCartney, £1,235, Matches; oversize check coat in black and white, £300, Farhi by Nicole Farhi (nicolefarhi.com); Helene Berman red coat with three buttons, £189 and grey tweed with patch pockets, Rutzou £319, both at Fenwick, W1; red collarless coat with four pockets, £100, ASOS.
Black/white blanket check, Burberry Prorsum, £2,395, Browns; cashmere coat with half belt, Vanessa Bruno £1,680, both at Matches; orange wool with patch pockets, £89, M&S; midnight coat, £200, Cos.
Mid-calf wrap in caramel or cherry red, £495 Reiss; midi length, £682, and and three-quarter length, £630, both Diane von Furstenberg at Matches
Oatmeal wool, Lanvin, £1,980, Browns; grey with leather trim, Smythe, £650, Matches; three-quarter cape coat in camel or coral, Helene Berman, £149, Fenwick, W1.
Sleek and ladylike
Stripey coat, Chloe, £1,250, Browns; navy belted wool, £110, Monsoon; nude wool-crepe, Preen, £1,020, Matches; double-breasted charcoal wool, Farhi by Nicole Farhi, £270, (nicolefarhi.com).
Caramel with leather fastening, MaxMara, £980, Matches; black with leather sleeves, £119, Zara; red three-quarter length with black collar, £99, M&S; burgundy with leather trim, £130, Topshop.
Mongolian lamb gilet, 2nd Day, £499, Matches; faux leopard, £95, Oasis; petrel blue three-quarter length collarless coat, £98, Topshop.
Navy with black leather trim, Burberry Prorsum, £1,495, Browns; Weekend by MaxMara, £305, Matches; shawl collar, £130, Oasis.