For most of us, fashion and style aren’t really on the forefront of our brain. There I said it. It’s sad, but true. Even though we get dressed every single day and our clothes say so much about who we are; more often than not, people just don’t focus on fashion and style. I’ve been guilty of it, too. I haven’t thought about my own coat closet until it started getting colder and I was having a moment getting dressed looking all stylish from head to toe, and then literally did not have a winter coat to pull the look together. You can wiggle your way out of it all you want, but there’s simply no way around properly stocking your coat closet for the winter season.
As you know, I’m reading Betty Halbreich’s Secrets Of A Fashion Therapist: What You Can Learn Behind The Dressing Room Door and writing a blog series about building my wardrobe. In chapter two of her book, she outlines the different types of coats you need and why you need them for a properly stocked coat closet. This is a wardrobe gap in my closet. I’ve been avoiding it for too long. Tis’ the season now for coat shopping, and it’s time for an update. I loathe coat shopping because it’s expensive, but I know once I make the investment I’ll be set. And that’s the fun part! Once you have what you need you can switch up your coats with other shoes, scarves, etc. in your wardrobe and a good winter coat can truly go the distance.
There’s Truly A Coat For Everything.
Looking back on my walk in closet days when most of my disposable income went into my closet, I really had everything I needed. I remember this white puffer jacket that paired perfectly with my casual Reebok sneakers both in winter white when I didn’t feel like dressing up in the colder months. I had a long houndstooth dress peacoat with a shawl collar for fancy night outs, a black leather jacket, spring cropped zip jackets in multiple neutral colors, jean jackets, and a black wool zip up winter coat for every day wear. I was set! It’s my goal to get back to that place in my wardrobe where I literally have everything I need in my closet, regardless of the season, and regardless of the occasion!
Getting Creative With Finding Temporary Coat Solutions.
Thank God, Betty Halbreich wrote a book all about building a wardrobe so we can stay organized and shop with intention! As I moved my seasonal summer clothes out of my closet, I quickly realized I had a huge wardrobe gap in the coat section. I immediately enlisted my uncle’s winter pieces as some temporary solutions. He kindly lent me his long black leather trench coat, which is a bit hard and utilitarian for me to wear, but came in handy in those colder fall days when I was walking to work in a pleated skirt and needed the coverage and warmth in the rain! He’s also lent me a quilted black bomber utility jacket from Macy’s that he never wears, which works wonderfully with sneakers and boots for a more casual girls night out when I don’t want to dress to the nines.
Navigating The Coat Section: What To Buy And Why.
It takes time to build up your coat closet. For one thing, it’s an investment. A good winter coat is hard to find for a hundred dollars or less. Especially, if you’re shopping for the long run and want a coat that lasts and is equally functional doing what you need it to do while keeping you dry and warm. I always tell my clients: only buy what you love. There’s plenty of coats on the market, and sometimes it’s overwhelming when you’re really in need of a winter coat, and you just want to get it done, so you buy one that doesn’t quite fit, or it’s in a color that’s just okay. Let me be very clear: you’re going to be wearing this for 3 months straight. It’s very important that you get the fit and color right so you don’t hate it every time you put it on. I like to shop with a Love At First Sight mindset. Kinda like romantic partners, you know when you know. If you have to sit and think about whether you and the guy you just met have chemistry, then you probably don’t. Same with the coat. If it doesn’t fit, and it’s not quite right — don’t force it.
As Betty Halbreich says, “This is a big-ticket purchase, so you need to make sure you do it wisely. In keeping with the concept of investment dressing, you will want to look for a coat that is on the classic side— anything extremely trendy will look passé before you can even get it out of mothballs next season.” Also think about how you’ll be wearing it; do you drive to and from work, or do you take the train? You probably won’t want a light color if it’s going to get dirty on your daily commute. To make things easier, here’s a coat shopping guide, so you can shop what you need and stock your winter coat closet with ease.
Building Your Coat Closet: 9 Different Types and Functions of Winter Coats.
There’s several different styles of winter coats that you’ll see when shopping as you’re looking to build your coat closet. In Betty Halbreich words below, she breaks down different coat styles and functions to help you purchase the right winter coat for the season:
Cloth Coat: This should be a first priority, and since it will most likely be the coat you wear most (to work over suits, dresses, or pants, and dressier evening occasions) invest in one that’s neutral in color (black, brown, gray, camel, navy), roomy enough to fit over a suit jacket and long enough to cover most, if not, all of your skirts and dresses.
Down Coat: If you live in a cold climate, you’ll need a coat that’s warm even in a deep freeze. The advantage of down is that it will keep you very warm but it’s also light to wear.
Sherling Coat: This is a big investment, but one that will see you through years of cold winters. A coat that hits right above the knee is most versatile.
Pea Coat: A perfect casual country or city coat that looks equally great over jeans and a big sweater or black tights and a miniskirt.
Swing Coat: This is a great extra coat to have — it’s generally made in lighter weight materials, making it perfect for early spring or warmer climates.
Lined Raincoat: Probably the smartest coat investment you can make. Use the shell over your cloth coats to protect them during a rain or snow storm, use the coat with the lining for all but the coldest temperatures. If you have an old fur coat you no longer wear, have a waterproof fabric put over it to create a luxurious lined raincoat.
Bomber Jacket: These short jackets have become interestingly popular, and you’ll find them in a variety of fabrics. They can be as casual or as dressy as you want them to be, and look great with pants and even skirts. Forget the old rules about not letting your skirt show beneath your coat–anything goes now.
Faux Fur: With more and more designers working in fake furs, it’s becoming a good investment. It’s younger and more fun than the real thing, and goes over everything from jeans to evening wear.
Double-faced Wool Coat: This is another little luxury to add to your coat collection (again, watch the sales). Whatever the style, double-faced (unlined) wool makes for a wonderful soft, light coat.
Your basic wardrobe of coats (and it does pay to build up a collection of different styles and weights) can include several classic shapes that will take you through all sorts of weather and occasions. You can’t really get by with just one coat. After all, you put one on nearly every day of your life, so you need to think about building a wardrobe of coats that covers you for all seasons, climates, and occasions.
What To Do Next.
Bookmark this blog post for when you go coat shopping and pull it up to navigate through the coat section. Shop on sale if you can, and notice the different styles, zippers, cuts, buttons and silhouettes of the various coats above and determine which one you need that’s most functional for your lifestyle and start with buying that one for now. Maybe make a list of all the coats you need, and budget to 1-3 this season and then shop again when you can. Make note of the amount of money you spent, and the coat you got, colors, etc. and cross them off your list. You can shop again next season, or once the season passes as most winter coats will go on sale, and you can complete your winter coat shopping then. Either way, stocking up on the perfect coats for each season is an essential staple to any wardrobe! Shop smart, shop intentionally, and make sure the purchase feels right before you buy it. As always, think about your wardrobe at home and try to put 5-7 outfits together in your mind that you can wear with the coat you’re thinking of buying. If you can do that; it’s a solid purchase! Cheers to winter coat shopping. I hope you find the perfect fit.