It’s the big issue at the beginning of every winter - which coat to buy. After all, in the noughties we know that a coat that is not just about keeping warm, but about looking edgy and fabulous when we step outside on a chilly November morning.
And while the UK climate may be unpredictable, you don’t need to be a clairvoyant to know that your winter coat will be called into service from the end of September to April. This means not only that the coat you choose should keep you toasty warm, but it should be something you truly love and will relish wearing every time you slip it over your shoulders.
The adage used to be “buy the best coat you can afford”, and there are compelling arguments for investing — if you can afford it — in a coat that is beautifully made and finished and crafted in high quality fabric. Designers who tick those boxes include Donna Karan, whose winter collection includes a vicuna cashmere double-faced belted overcoat worn with her winter trademark, fur gauntlets; Nicole Farhi with a cheering rainbow tweed overcoat or asymmetric buttoning red alpaca wool fitted coat; and Valentino’s deliciously uplifting red alpaca and mohair wrap coat with big bow at waist. Also look at MaxMara’s new Atelier Collection, which takes the label’s iconic coats and gives them a couture twist.
But at the other end of the scale, one (or perhaps two) of the fabulously stylish coats on the High Street avoid the boredom factor and also allow you the versatility you may need for the different lengths and clothing shapes we all have in our wardrobes. With tailored jackets, for instance, back in a big way this autumn, a coat that will accommodate a jacket beneath it is essential. Look for one that is generously cut around the shoulder — dolman and kimono shapes are especially good — such as Nicole Farhi’s unstructured cashmere and wool wrap coat with enveloping fur collar, or the black-and-white collarless blanket check coat at Hobbs
If you wear dresses or sweater-and-skirt combination, look for a fitted coat that gives a gentle nod to body-con, like James Lakeland’s immaculately cut red fitted coat with oversized collar and huge black buttons, or the shapely mohair check belted coat at Hobbs (left).
When it comes to length, your pick will depend on what goes underneath. The rule used to be that a coat should be the same length as your skirt, but a couple of inches of skirt peeking beneath a short coat can look grungy and cool. If, you wear mid-calf (or longer), choose a coat that falls to low mid-calf or ankle, such as a classic cream coat or black single-breasted fitted coat, both by Crombie.