Yes, I know it’s barely autumn (not that the weather seems to be aware of this. It has been feeling decidedly autumnal for about a month now), but given that most shops have had their autumn coats on sale, and in some cases selling out, since about mid-July, it seemed an appropriate time to discuss winter coats. And besides, isn’t it nice to have that smug feeling of having already sorted your coat dilemmas before the truly awful weather actually hits? And as I’ll explain below, now is the perfect time to have at least one of your autumn coats ready to go (two, if you live anywhere that it rains, ever).
After years of being ill-prepared for the autumn and winter weather, I have finally perfected my coat technique, and have established that my bare minimum coat requirement consists of:
- A smart, warm coat, for wearing to work (this is the one that you can survive without until the weather gets a little colder, but keep an eye out now, as the best styles will sell out fast).
- A waterproof, bum covering coat with a hood for doing the school run in the rain. If this can also be smart enough for work that’s fabulous, but frankly I can carry an umbrella when not encumbered by children, so it’s really only essential for times when I am on motherhood duty.
- A casual shorter coat for days when it isn’t so cold and I want to actually look like I’ve heard of fashion.
And that’s it! I know that if I have those three I can survive almost any eventuality, from winter wedding to muddy walk. The latter two are, in my world, essentials from late summers onwards, even if we get a bit of an Indian summer, but the first one can wait a few more weeks.
Of course, in an ideal world I’d have a couple more options, so this is the ‘would-like-to-have coat list’ that sometimes I manage to achieve but often these coats are harder to replace when they wear out, so I quite often have a period without one of them when the old one finally gives up the ghost:
- A showerproof trench coat, for windy and slightly rainy autumnal days that are mild enough to cause overheating in the full on winter wool coat. If you work in London this one can practically be added to the essential list, as it is such a pain taking a heavy wool coat on and off when every time you catch the tube.
- A parka – if you have any element of casual within your personal clothing style, then a parka is an autumn and spring essential to throw on over jeans and slouchy knitwear.
- A coat that brings you joy – a friend suggested this when I was contemplating what to put on my list, and I knew exactly what she meant. Whether it’s a treasured leather blazer, a velvet military style coat or a faux fur, one coat that makes you feel utterly fabulous even if it isn’t the world’s most practical is really a luxury that every wardrobe could do with. I’m on the lookout for a faux fur this year.
- A coat in a bold colour – this might fall into one of the coats in your essentials list or one of the above coats in this list, but it’s important, I think, to always have a coat that can lift your outfits on days when you just can’t think beyond jeans and your oldest sweater.
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