Before we know it, the heady days of blue skies and long summer evenings will be over and fall will be upon us. While, this year, we are sure to be spending a greater amount of time indoors than we may like, the requirement for a great coat to see us through the winter and into a more optimistic 2021 is just as necessary as ever – whether it’s for your trip to the coffee shop when WFH or back to the office with trepidation.
Plus, the desire for a great coat that not only protects against the elements but, just as importantly, makes us feel good, seems to be rising exponentially in line with the curve of challenges thrown at us this year. What’s more, our opportunities for dressing up may have diminished for the moment, so make the most of your outerwear to get those outfit endorphins going.
Form and function are top of the list when shopping for what is likely to be one of your most important wardrobe buys in a calendar year. On that note, a truly great winter coat does not need to be purchased every year. Choose wisely, focus on high-quality fabrics and timeless designs with a modern twist, and your next investment will see you through seasons to come.
THE POWER BLAZER
Nothing sharpens the senses like a well-chiselled blazer. Slipping on a tailored Saint Laurent jacket (top image) instantly revs your synapses as they receive the ‘back to work’ memo, loud and clear. The genius of Saint Laurent’s single-breasted, peaked-lapel blazer is that its precise cut belies an extremely comfortable fit. You won’t feel constricted in this structured piece, just reassuringly embraced. This classic jacket will work overtime for you, too, as it can be worn as an outer layer or slipped on at your desk for important video calls. Also, nothing promotes a humble pair of denim jeans like a sharp blazer. Choose a traditional fabric, such as black and white houndstooth, for a timeless investment that will transition elegantly from year to year.
THE BOLD-COLORED COAT
If there’s one item that can lift your mood and transform your wardrobe in an instant, it’s a coat in a bold hue. Color theory has been studied and debated since Isaac Newton created the first color wheel in the 17th century, but this season there is no contesting it – color works. Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez must have sensed we’d need some ‘oompf’ right around now, as their primary-colored coats at Proenza Schouler felt raunchily radical with their subtly exaggerated shoulders (especially worn with their thigh-high leather boot on the runway – although flat Chelsea boots might feel more realistic this season). Meanwhile, walking the line between vintage and contemporary as only Ms Prada can do, the Italian brand took a vintage-inspired spin with an elegantly waisted overcoat in pretty mustard yellow. Either keep the rest of your outfit neutral and let the coat take center stage, or lean into color mixing and embrace a palette of complementary shades.
THE MODERN TRENCH
If you’re looking for a modern update on the traditional trench, do away with some of the archetypal storm flaps, epaulettes and cuff tabs that decorated the original iteration of this practical piece.
“A coat needs to respond to a function,” says Jonathan Anderson, “and I kept that in mind, adding my own taste for blunt abstraction.” His navy interpretation of this timeless coat from his namesake label JW Anderson has generous bell sleeves and contrasting lapels and cuffs. Relaxed in style, this will become your everyday coat to throw on, belt and go. Nina Ricci’s caped trench, meanwhile, has a streamlined femininity that feels distinctly modern. Single-breasted and neatly belted, its svelte silhouette instantly abolishes any lingering notions of detectives in shady corners. What’s more, the cape is detachable, meaning you actually have two styles to play with.
The key when it comes to choosing a trench that will last is not to make a meal out of it – choose updated design details but look to keep some of its traditional aspects: opt for a high-quality gabardine or waterproof waxed cotton, and stick to traditional neutral colors, such as stone or black.
THE FOREVER FAUX-FUR COAT
“Faux fur is now produced so well that there is no reason to wear real fur,” says Stella McCartney. “It is now modern and fashionable to wear Fur Free Fur, and I really believe people’s attitudes towards this topic are quickly changing.” As consumers look for more sustainable fabrics, the demand grows for designers to deliver more ethical and desirable options. And McCartney, of course, has built her business around responsible production. Her patchwork chestnut, navy and beige faux-fur coat with rounded collar looks fabulous and feels luxurious to wear. A long-time advocate of faux fur, McCartney champions the use of fur-free Koba: “Koba is made of plant pulp and recycled polyester and uses around 30 percent less energy and 63 percent less carbon emissions. It’s also completely biodegradable, which is incredible – and we are the first brand to use it.”
IT TAKES TWO
Looking for a coat to serve you in the depths of winter but seeking something more refined than a down-filled ski jacket? Consider layering two formal coats, such as a trench inside a trench – ideal for pairing, as they have shape but are unstructured. When doubling up, the coziness factor multiplies (that’s fashion science). This deep-green leather trench and slim-cut stone trench, both by Salvatore Ferragamo, work as perfectly together as they do apart. This styling tip is particularly successful when teaming coats in contrasting fabrics and colors. Just make sure it’s two of the same style, so the silhouettes are streamlined.
“A long, double-breasted coat is so versatile: it can be worn with anything and it’s a wardrobe staple,” says Nanushka founder Sandra Sandor. Her label’s ultra-desirable version will make a great investment this winter. “I think the secret lies in the minimalist design and classic shape, combined with an unexpected element to create a statement,” she says, referring to its contrasting (and removable) leather lapel. Accentuate the drama of its long silhouette with a style that reaches right to the floor. Style note: a skinny turtleneck will keep you cozy and negate the need for a scarf, allowing a fabulous lapel to be shown off, uninterrupted.