Choosing your perfect winter coat

It’s the most important item you’ll buy this winter. But choosing your perfect winter coat is no small task. Your winter coat should be warm, stylish and versatile enough to wear to the pub or the office. And ideally, it will last longer than just one season.

Before you hit the shops, make sure you have read our five rules for finding your perfect winter coat.

1. Check the composition

For winter, you need something that will last at least a few months in some of the year’s harshest weather conditions. This means you need to look for a coat that is made from insulating fabrics such as wool or cashmere. Choose a style that has a little extra space inside so that you can layer up your sweaters and knitwear. And make sure any buttons/zips are not just decorative – you don’t want to be clinging to your lapels when the winter winds hit.

2. See if it’s adaptable

Ideally, your winter coat should be suitable for a number of different occasions. Does it suit a mizzly morning? A freezing afternoon? Or a lashing night out? And does it accessorise well with your current wardrobe? Look for a coat that can be dressed up or down with the right accessories.

3. Think about your silhouette

Like everything in fashion, the silhouette is everything. If you are tall and slim, add curves with a belted coat. If you are curvy, choose a slimming single-breasted coat in a dark colour. Shorter ladies should look for mid-length coats; while tall women can experiment with unusual shapes like the cocoon coat. Whatever you choose, make sure it works with your figure, and not against it.

4. Take it for a road-test

It’s easy to take a coat for a spin in a store, but to get a realistic view, you need to take it outside. Luckily, just about every store has a generous returns policy, so you can buy and return if it doesn’t feel right. Remember, you’ll be wearing your winter coat almost every day. Some fabrics can feel scratchy, tight or warm when you’re moving around, but catch them early and you’ll have time to find a new coat.

5. Think about the details

Everyone wants something different from their winter coat. You might want deep pockets to keep your hands warm; a hood that keeps the rain off; or a fur trim that gives you a daily shot of glamour. Think about the one detail that you can’t live without, and narrow down your search accordingly. Then all you have to do is choose the coat that makes you look good, and you’ll be ready for the snow!

Mastering trans-seasonal dressing

Trans-seasonal dressing is one of the trickiest skills in fashion. While we all know what to expect from our winter wardrobe or our summer wardrobe, dressing for changeable weather is a whole other issue.

That being said, there are a few handy rules and tips that you should know before stepping outside the front door…

Look ahead, not behind

It’s tempting to try to eek out the value from last season’s outfits for a while longer, but this is how you end up getting stuck in a style rut. Instead, you should to the season ahead for fashion inspiration. In the springtime, gradually start introducing summery prints and bare legs. In the autumn, experiment with subtle layering as the weather turns cooler.

Invest in your coats

The right coat is your key to nailing trans-seasonal dressing. You probably already have a heavy winter coat and a lighter summer jacket in your wardrobe, but what about those ‘in between’ days? Invest in a classic trench coat for breezy days, and a smart raincoat to see you through the occasional downpour. Denim jackets and long-line blazers are easily stowed away in a tote bag if the sun comes out.

Learn the art of layering

There’s a lot more to layering than you might think. From a fashion perspective, you want to end up with a sleek silhouette. But practically speaking, you need to be able to add and remove layers easily. As a general rule, choose finer fabrics which won’t bunch up when layered. Natural materials such as cotton, silk and linen will keep you relatively cool when the temperature rises, while wool-based outer layers will help to hold in the heat.

Love your accessories

Specifically, your umbrella and your sunglasses. And thanks to the British weather, there’s a good chance that you’ll need both of these on any trans-seasonal day. Ditch your boring black umbrella and replace it with a stylish (or ‘birdcage’) umbrella, or a rain-repelling print in bright colours. Start putting together a collection of sunglasses so that you have a pair for every mood. After all, good accessories never go out of fashion.