Top Tips for Buying a Winter Coat

Tips for buying a winter coat If there is one thing north-easterners know a lot about, it’s shopping for coats.  We have a few weeks of autumnal transitional weather and then, all too fast, winter is upon us.  Between Hurricane Sandy last week, daylight savings time darkness, and the plummet in temperatures, autumn feels like a long memory.  Plus, I’m a New Yorker and, like many of us, I don’t have the luxury of a car (or a heated garage), walk more than the average person and understand the importance of bundling up.

Today, feeling like winter, I wanted to give you my tips for buying a winter coat the types of coats you should always have on hand and how to step out a bit with winter coat style without sacrificing function.   

Tips For Buying a Winter Coat #1- Look at your lifestyle

My first tip for buying a winter coat is to first, look at your lifestyle.  What types of coats does it call for?  While this may seem plainly obvious, some people buy coats without keeping function in mind, either because they’re pretty, or they aren’t being realistic about their needs.  I’ve worked with many clients who have closets full of lots of pretty coats but are still missing the basics like a weekend coat or a coat for when the temperature really plummets.  You can’t buy a coat solely on the premise that you are attracted to it. Additionally, coats take up a lot of space.  If you have one or two that function well in one part of your life, consider yourself done and move on.

Tips For Buying a Winter Coat #2- Color 

With coats, and the fact that they are often an investment and we may wear one or two all year long, it would make sense to want to buy the most basic and boring black coat you can find.  Yet, this doesn’t have to be the case.  Think about it, this coat may be worn just about every day during the winter and how bored will you be by the time the weather gets warmer?   There are lot of colors out there that are far more interesting, yet play a similar function to a neutral shade like black.  Colors like teal, green, yellow and red can be great colors to consider purchasing in lieu of a drab color.  If you’re not a fan of color in your coats (most of my coats are brown and camel), consider brightly colored scarves, hats and gloves.

Before you add a splash of color to your wardrobe, it is still important to look at the colors in your wardrobe as you will still want to make sure your coat works with what you will be wearing under it.

Tip for Buying a Winter Coat #3- Function Over Fashion

While the ultimate goal would be to have a very functional coat that is still fashionable, for your coat that you wear when the weather really gets cold (like cold blast, Tundra-cold) function trumps fashion.  I have a coat that is literally ten years old.  It’s not ugly but it isn’t exactly the most fashionable piece in my closet either.  It’s a very functional down coat in brown, full length and has a fur hood.  I haven’t parted with the coat yet because, not only is it still in wonderful condition, but because even in 10 degree weather it keeps me so warm that I don’t have to wear a lot of layers.   Yes, coats can be fashionable but they are primarily here to act as a functional garment.

Secondly, a coat may be pretty but does it keep you warm?  Nothing is worse than a coat that doesn’t button high enough around the neck, or one that is so flimsy that you might as well go out wearing no coat at all.   Don’t be wooed by pretty bells and whistles if the coat doesn’t function the way you need it to.

Tips for Buying a Winter Coat #4- Update your Investments with Your Accessories 

For many, coats are an investment.  Year after year of wear, it is easy to get bored with the styles we own.  To extend the life and enjoyment of your coats, consider updating your hats, gloves and scarves.  You can also have several different hats, scarves and gloves that you rotate with one coat to change up the look.  Here are some styles I put together for inspiration.

Winter Coat

If you own a basic weekend coat that is neutral in color, you have a tremendous selection in the colors you can use to pop your somber shaded outerwear.  For many, a coat color in black may be versatile but it isn’t flattering against the skin tone.  Look for hat and scarves that are more flattering agains your face.

Winter Coat

The beauty of a camel coat is that you can wear it with both darker brown and black hats and scarves.  However, you don’t have to stop there.  Oxblood, which is the hot color for fall/winter, works beautifully with camel.   In addition, the pop of a trendy animal print hat works with camel perfectly.

Winter Coats

Just because the winter months are dark and dreary does not mean that your outerwear needs to look that way.  Yellow, one of the hot colors right now adds extra pop to a fun colorful coat.  A printed scarf that picks up both the colors in the coat and the hat and gloves.  Want to feel uplifted this winter?  Go for a bright coat and accents.  You’ll look great and it will work wonders on your mood.

Winter Coat

Navy is a universal color.  Meaning that the majority of people look good with it near their face.  If you’ve got a coat in a pop color or in a rich camel, consider accenting your coat with navy accessories over black.

Winter Coat

While fun pop color winter accessories are great, it is important to keep good neutrals in your wardrobe.  A pair of versatile mid-brown gloves can be worn with just about any coat you own as can a great winter-white hat.