It happened in the blink of an eye. Last week, it felt excessive to wear both a knit and a blazer. This week, it feels foolish to step outside without thermals. All of a sudden it’s Coat Weather.
The Princess of Wales is ahead of the curve. She stepped out yesterday in LK Bennett’s red “Spencer” coat (surely not a coincidence). You likely have a coat already too; perhaps bought mid-lockdown, when practicality was paramount along with roomy pockets for treats for a pandemic puppy. But bodies and trends change and despite the cost of living crisis, a new coat for the new season can be an effective way to make everything else in your wardrobe feel more up to date.
The good news is that the outerwear offering on the high street this season is strong, from quilted reversible numbers (budget versions of cult brand Marfa Stance), to trench-inspired styles (very Burberry), to fluffy Peter Pan collars (oh so Shrimps).
Of course, you’ll still remark that it’s cold or that the skies are depressingly grey. We’re British and complaining about the weather is what we do best. But at least you’ll be armoured against it – and stylishly, too.
You love chunky jumpers
If your cosy knitwear game is strong, then you’ll need a coat that’s roomy in the shoulder and sleeves, as anything too fitted will feel uncomfortable. Cocoon silhouettes provide this, but I prefer an oversized trench as the neat, vertical lines are much more flattering. I love the swishy glamour of this extra long Aligne coat, under which I’m wearing two layers of knitwear. An inexpensive black coat can sometimes look cheap, but that’s rarely the case with a brown one.
You’re always in a dress
Midi or midaxi dresses are brilliantly versatile year-round, but they can be tricky to style with coats. As a rule, choose something that’s either long, or cropped at the waist, such as a peacoat (Jaeger has a great khaki one). This Albaray coat makes a bold statement – a great choice for drinks under heat lamps in the local pub garden or watching fireworks on Guy Fawkes night – but the colour and check are versatile enough to work well over florals or polka dots, as well as block hues. Just avoid wearing it with red unless it’s actually Christmas time.
You wear a lot of suits
Suits can be challenging to wear with coats because the blazer already has a strong shoulder, so a coat with shoulder pads can look like overkill. You do need something with some polish though because, if you’re wearing a suit, you’re probably expected to look smart. This wool blend coat is cut like a trench, but, critically, the shoulders are soft. It’s versatile too, as it’ll look just as good over a knitted dress or jeans as it does with a suit. Camel is an easy neutral to pair with other shades too.
You live in the country
If your daily uniform is a jumper and jeans, and outings usually involve stomping through the mud with a couple of dogs, you need something that insulates but isn’t so heavy that you’ll start overheating 30 minutes into a long walk. This jacket has all the key ingredients: hip length, which keeps it lightweight, quilting (both chic and warm), a funnel neck (so you don’t need to bring a scarf) and generous pockets. It’s also reversible, so you get two looks in one.
You like to look glamorous
If your taste is for something more decadent, you'll need faux fur, gold buttons or a luxe boucle fabric. This LK Bennett style features all of the above – and the Peter Pan collar feels more contemporary than a faux fur lapel. It’s almost an outfit in itself, so keep the rest of your look understated – this shape will work well with trousers or above-the-knee skirts. The blue Boden coat on the cover would look wonderful over a dress or knit in the same shades as that vibrant crochet trim.
You need a casual multitasker
You don’t necessarily need to be smart, but you don’t want to look scruffy either. You need something that will take you from the school run, to work, to post-work drinks and so on. You could probably do with more hours in the day too. It needs a hood, because you’re always losing umbrellas, and to be seriously warm for those chilly Saturday mornings cheering on the kids at football practice. This parka does it all – and for less than £80.
Tamara wears: Hooded parka, £79 (marksandspencer.com)