I’ve been avoiding this topic because frankly, I don’t like to think about winter. And so far fall has been kind, allowing me to stick my head in the sand even deeper and not think about the snow. But if I stall any longer there won’t be much selection left.
Winter coats start to make an appearance in late July-early August. This is when you get the creme de la creme of coats, and a taste of what is to come. But do not despair if July has passed you by and you didn’t think to pick up your winter coat on that sweltering summer day. There is still stock and selection coming in to the stores until November. And, if you did decide to wait you should be lucky enough to get 30-50% off since they are about to move the coats out to make room for the bathing suits.
The Oversize Coat
Here is what is big in coats for winter 2014-15. Since we are talking about what is big, let’s start with the oversized coat, also called the boyfriend coat. This looks a bit like you stepped in to your father’s coat because of the size and masculine shape. It’s not my favourite. I feel like you need to be tall and sylphlike to wear it best, or at least create the illusion of height – ie with heels. I like it best with menswear inspired pieces like a trouser pant and an oxford shoe, or else the complete opposite and make it very pretty over top of a ladylike dress. What you want to avoid is anything too “normal” looking underneath. It won’t work. Your footware choice is critical with this coat. Don’t attempt to wear this with your Sorels because they are just too big for the balance and will make the look sloppy. Choose heels or a boot that sits narrow to the leg. Wear slim pieces like a cigarette pant, skinnies or tights to balance your proportions. It tends to look best worn open. The length just above the knee is my favourite. The to-the-ankle length can swallow you up.
My current favourite is the robe coat. It is the trench coat equivalent for the winter months. It’s ladylike and polished. Cinch it around your middle, and then when you think you have it tight, give it another pull to make it even tighter and really define your waist. I prefer a robe coat that comes with an oversize collar rather than a lapel because it can take on a bit of a bathrobe effect. It looks best in soft fabrics like cashmere, and in rich colours like camel, olive, charcoal or navy rather than basic black.
The Cape Coat
We have to talk about the cape coat. It is so genteel, but so impractical, not to mention awkward to wear. It’s a bit of a what’s the point coat. It makes an elegant topper to go over your dress on the way to the opera, but otherwise this pretty look is a toughie outside the magical workings of a great stylist. It’s perfect to wear from the house to the car, car to the underground garage and then to the coat check. If you are going to wear it, you need to consider your sleeves (or lack thereof) that will peak through the slits and make sure it works with the coat. Option 2 is you can wear long, leather opera length gloves – BAAM! it’s a good thing you are going to the opera. I much prefer the blanket cape. It’s more casual and a lot easier to wear since it’s a chic layer of added warmth on a crisp fall day with less need for function.
The Sorbet Coloured Coat
Pastel coloured coats continue to be popular this season. Your first reaction is that it may seem a bit of a strange colour choice in the winter months, but how refreshing to see such pretty, soft colours when the days are short and everything seems dull, drab, dreary and dark. I like it best in the boyfriend style because it is more modern and less like a 50s revival, or that you hit up the girls section of the department store. Keep the details simple, but add a structured bag or some harder edges like leather. Make it look more winter-y with a felt hat. Black and charcoal look great with powder blue and burgundy is gorgeous against blush or pink.
Your coat is a huge expense and you want to make sure you choose well. Spend the most money you can afford because you will be wearing this every day for months on end and will keep it for years. Make sure you love the cut on you and aren’t just choosing something based on a trend. Tailored, single button felt coats are timeless and look great on every body type.
Here’s what to look for:
- natural fabrics like down, wool, cashmere or wool-cashmere blend tend to be warmest, but there are some great new synthetic fabrics nowadays that are very comparable in warmth.
- check to see if it has a warmth rating.
- aim to pick a warm but lightweight jacket.
- try it on with what you realistically will be wearing underneath.
- make sure you can fit your arms in the coat without the sleeves bunching, that you can lift your arms up easily, does not pull across the back or chest, that you can sit down without it pulling across your seat, and that you can button or zip it up without struggle.
- the coat should sit narrow to your body. This will keep you warmer than a looser cut where the heat from your body can escape.
- hang it on a wooden hanger rather than a hook to maintain it’s shape.