The Ultimate Dilemma

02Nov09

It happens every year, doesn’t it? The weather drops a little in late September, starts to shake off the sunshine and get a little chilly. Your style-orientated brain goes into overdrive immediately, with urgency and the ultimate questions: I need a winter coat. Where do I get one? What am I looking for?

Nine times out of ten, we already have winter coats. Sure, they’re stashed away under our bed or someplace we can’t see; since we’ve lived in shorts and skirts all summer (as our luck would have it for once, right Brits?), why would we have needed to wear our big, thick army green duffel coats? Or our ever-faithful snuggly black macs? But once they’re out of the eye, it’s like they don’t exist anymore. And it’s amazing how many people forget what clothing they really have if they can’t see it – even myself – so my first advice to anybody is, before you go out shopping for your winter coat, or anything specific to a season in future, check you actually don’t own it in some incarnation already!

That aside, if you plain just don’t have a winter coat, or your old faithful from five years ago is about as useful as a pair of waterproof fishnets, then don’t hesitate to get on out there with your well-earned moolah. The second piece of advice I can give you, though, before you start splurging your cash left, right and centre (and this is so full of common sense, that even I’d kick myself) is to research. Dedicate some time to sitting down on the internet, or flicking through some recent magazines, and looking for what you really want in a winter coat. You need to take into account the following: you need it to be warm, you need it to be durable, and you need it to be adaptable and complimentary to what you already have in your wardrobe. There’s no point you buying a coat that just clashes with everything you wear, or buying a whole new closet just to fit around your new item. Be wise. Write down a list of what you usually wear – especially in the winter. Get it right down to the nitty gritty like what colour tights or trousers you wear, and what colour scarves you wear, and then start drawing up ideas about the kind of coat you’re looking for. How long do you want it to be? Do you want pockets? A hood? Is leather in or out? Do you want one row of buttons or double-breasted? Once you have your list all drawn up, get looking for specifics on that internet. This is where it gets fun (for the most part).

If you’re already aware of a brand or a shop that is most likely to stock your perfect coat, or you have previously bought from there before and wax lyrical about their durability and what they have offered to you in the past in the terms of clothing, don’t hesitate to look there first. You want to make it easy for yourself, after all – not something that turns into a chore! For example; three years ago, I bought a beautiful green mac from New Look and thought it was the most beautiful (and at the time, most stylish; okay, I was an ugly duckling, beginning to turn into a stylish swan!) item I had ever owned. I dreamed up outfit concoctions and often wore it wherever I went. I still have it, and love it to pieces and am sad that the autumn is over so that I can’t wear it anymore, yet am already thinking of how to pair it up with things in the spring. New Look have always had fabulous coats, in my own opinion, that are honestly durable for the reasonable prices that they sell them for. The two coats from the image above are even from there, and that I am struggling to come to a decision over (though I think the Checkered Trench is winning over the Red Duffle Coat – purely because I wear a lot of red clothes anyway). I rarely think of anywhere else for coats because I know that New Look is right for me, and if you know that Topshop, Karen Millen, or your favourite shop is right for you, then don’t leave it ’til last to give it a look in. Of course, you will always find gems from other brands – I have an army green thick jacket with a (fake) fluffy inside that I bought from H&M in Oslo (appropriate, it was almost negative degrees out there at the time) that is my ultimate cold-upon-cold coat, and I have had a couple of good’uns from Primark in the past, although they haven’t lasted that long – which is while you need to be a little open-minded about things.

Things you ought to take into account:
If you’re looking for durable, classic and long-lasting, don’t be afraid to splash out a little on a more expensive brand. It will truly, madly pay off, and you will still be wearing the same coat for years to come. Likewise, if you’re not bothered about quality and know that the style or print of the item is ultimately ‘faddy’, then honestly go as cheap as you can.
You shouldn’t just limit yourself to one coat, at the end of the day. If you know that you will want different coats for different things, go in-between really expensive prices and lowest of the low and buy two medium quality coats in different patterns, or colours, or cuts; the choices are endless! The best way to mix it up is to buy one coat in a plain, easily-pairable colour like black or white to wear with more lary outfits, and a coat in a bright colour or pattern that you can wear to jazz up your otherwise normal, casual outfits.
If you already have an otherwise healthy winter coat but you’re feeling a little iffy about it, think about what you really love in terms of style right now. You could always rock it up with some embellishments – studs are easily found over the internet, are often cheap and simple to attach. You could put on different buttons, or if you’re even handier with a sewing machine, literally adjust it anyway you want: the length of the coat, the sleeves, you could take off that ugly collar that always put you off, take off the pockets and sew different fabric to create pocket panels – the possibilities are endless!
High street shops have learnt a lot from the recession in terms of having sales almost all the time equals more money for them, so take advantage of it while it lasts – also, the glorious VAT cut we’ve had this year in the UK is ending in December, so even more of an excuse to hurry up and make the most of it!

Where do you swear by for your winter outerwear? Tell me all about your favourite coat!

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16 Responses to “The Ultimate Dilemma”

  1. I wish I had a reason to wear a winter coat, but it’s still like 75 to 80 degrees here in San Diego. I know I shouldn’t be complaining about the weather, but winter clothes are so cute!

    • Aw, that’s never such a bad thing though. Think of all the shorts you can wear that I can’t without a thick pair of tights! We’ll have to do a weather swap one day, heh.

  2. whoaaa cool coat, ughh too bad I can’t wear it in my country unless I take the chance for being boiled XD.

  3. Great blog; very well-written. I have to say being from Canada, it’s hard to fall in love with a winter coat–more like a necessary evil. I have about 5 and you love them at first, then after a few wears it’s humdrum.

    • I understand you – I often think people must feel the same in the UK sometimes as it’s always raining in the winter, or at least very, very chilly! But when the summer rolls around, we’ve seemed to get a freak heatwave for the last few years so by the time it’s cold, you really feel it and embrace your winter coat. I’m sorry it’s proper humdrum for you! Maybe buy more coats? I’m only kidding ;P thanks you for your lovely comments though! I’m a-reading your blog now.

  4. I loove this article – and your advice is great! I always have trouble with coats – mainly because I am tempted by so many of them, that narrowing down is very difficult! xxx

    • I know exactly what you mean, Sadie! I have too many coats and am desperately trying to downsize… only to be tempted by more ‘vital, must have’ items. Circle! I should try and follow my own advice, hehe. Thank you for your lovely comment. x


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