If there’s one item of clothing that deserves a starring place in your autumn/ winter wardrobe, it’s a great coat.
A true sartorial building block, the right outerwear – aka the best winter coat (opens in new tab) – can pull together even the simplest of outfits and, thanks to our Great British weather, is the piece you’ll be reaching for most regularly from now until next spring. But with so many types of coats on offer, it's hard to know where to start.
It certainly pays to invest in good-quality coats – those that stand up to repeated, daily wear and stay looking pristine for years to come. It’s also a smart idea to build up a collection of versatile styles that effortlessly work with whatever you happen to be wearing, be it casual jeans and a T-shirt, a sleek workwear suit or even a party dress.
As this year’s styles are hitting the shop floor, now’s the time to add them to your basket before they disappear. Consider this your coat capsule – the key types of coats that will keep you chic and cosy right through the season.
10 types of coats every woman needs in her wardrobe
The camel coat
Made iconic by Max Mara in the early Eighties, the camel coat (opens in new tab) has long been acknowledged as an outerwear classic and with good reason; the sophisticated neutral is universally flattering and compliments every colour in an autumn/ winter wardrobe, from black to cream, red to navy. A trusted go-to for fashion editors, supermodels and royalty (both Duchesses Cambridge and Sussex are fans) look for luxe wool iterations in a timeless, tailored silhouette such as Jigsaw’s Maxi City Coat, £350 (opens in new tab).
The classic trench
Versatile, comfortable and perennially stylish, a trench (opens in new tab) is one of the hardest-working coat styles going. Its lightweight nature makes it the perfect trans-seasonal piece; layer over dresses and light knits during early autumn, wear atop blazers and boots come winter. Take a cue from Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (the ultimate trench coat style reference) and opt for a go-with-everything neutral shade such as camel, tan, sand, beige or khaki. A belted style, such as Monki’s Classic Trench, £75 (opens in new tab), will cinch you at the waist giving a flattering silhouette.
The masculine blazer
A well-cut blazer never fails to add polish to an outfit and, during the cooler months, a luxe wool iteration is just the piece to dress up jeans or team with tailored trousers. A relaxed fit channels Parisienne chic, and means chunkier jumpers will sit comfortably underneath. Look for styles that sit well across the shoulders, making sure sleeves end on the wrist bone to avoid appearing swamped. Longer-line styles create a lean silhouette. Classic navy, black, grey, khaki and heritage check will never date. Marks & Spencer’s double-breasted blazer, £55 (opens in new tab), and & Other Stories’ oversized recycled wool blazer, £165 (opens in new tab), are some of the best of this season’s offering.
The polished puffer
When temperatures drop, only cosy will do. And for that you can’t beat a puffer. One of the warmest winter coats (opens in new tab), this once dingy style now comes in sleek silhouettes and stylish colourways, meaning it’s never been easier to stay toasty and look chic. The key is to look for slim-line styles which don’t add too much bulk. It’s also worth considering a belted design, such as Mango’s quilted coat, £119 (opens in new tab), which gives a flattering shape. Though it’s on the casual end of the coat spectrum, black, navy and olive versions are smart enough for an office dress code as well as weekend outings.
The tailored overcoat
For an instantly polished look, there is no better coat than a sharp, tailored overcoat. Taking inspiration from classic menswear, the structured, long-line style has been a stylish choice for decades and looks as relevant now as ever. Traversing casual and formal wear, here’s a piece that can be worn just as effortlessly with a T-shirt and trainers as it can a velvet tuxedo suit. Single-breasted styles are flattering on petite frames, while double-breasted versions suit taller builds. Make sure to choose a medium-weight wool which will provide warmth and last well, such as COS’ dark grey number, £180 (opens in new tab).
The weekend parka
Though mention of a parka might have you thinking of Nineties Britpop, recent seasons have seen the style elevated to a far more sophisticated proposition. As such, it’s now a hero of the off-duty wardrobe. The beauty of a parka lies in its function – this is the coat to wear on wet and windy weekends. Choose a style with a hood (adjustable toggles are a bonus) in a shower-proof fabric such as cotton poly. Large pockets negate the need for a handbag if out walking or dashing to the shops. Arket’s Rain Parka, £135 (opens in new tab), delivers on style and practicality.
The luxe leather
While a leather jacket has long been regarded as a trans-seasonal wardrobe staple, longer styles are well worth considering for the cooler months. Think less Matrix, more retro; opt for slim-fit, midi-length styles in a Seventies-inspired palette of conker, tan, ink or snake print. Leather pieces tend to come with a high price point, but it’s sensible to invest in a premium style that will wear well and even get better with age, such as Max Mara’s duster, £585 (opens in new tab). If your wardrobe is an animal-free zone, try H&M’s faux leather croc-embossed jacket, £49.99 (opens in new tab).
The leopard coat
From Edie Sedgwick to Kate Moss, the leopard-print coat has long been synonymous with ‘It girl’ cool, and certainly makes a statement. However, it’s far more versatile than you might expect. As numerous fashion features will have told you before, leopard is a neutral, and as far as prints go, it’s the easiest to team with the rest of your wardrobe; wear it tonally with black and browns, contrast it with block colours or clash it with florals and spots. In coat form, it will transform everyday outfits into something special and is an eye-catching option for evening wear – just add a sweep of red lipstick. Abercrombie & Fitch Mid-Length Leopard Coat, £170 (opens in new tab), is one of the best on the high street.
Introduced to our wardrobes back in the Noughties, the coatigan has become an outerwear staple thanks to its highly wearable appeal. A sartorial hybrid, it combines the tactile cosiness of a cardigan with the substance and structure of a coat, making it the ultimate cover-up for those milder autumnal and springtime days. It can also be layered under a larger coat through winter for extra warmth. When it comes to picking the perfect one, look for light yet warm styles in a cotton or wool mix. Dropped sleeves and collarless necklines make for a stylishly relaxed look, while an open front, such as Uniqlo’s Souffle Yarn Knitted Coat, £34.90 (opens in new tab), can be worn loose or belted.
The textured coat
The markers of a successful coat are versatility, comfort and timeless appeal. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Textured coats, from faux fur to shearling, tick all the boxes while offering up a hefty dose of fun (not to mention warmth). Having been championed as a key winter coat trend (opens in new tab) on the catwalks for several seasons, fuzzy outerwear has secured itself as a forever trend, so is a savvy investment. Use to add tactility to plain separates, give substance to light fabric underlayers or wear as an entrance-making cover-up for winter weddings. Try See U Soon’s Mid-Length Teddy Coat, £135 (opens in new tab), which has a chic, oversized fit.
Which types of coats will you be stocking up on?
Frankie Graddon is a fashion and beauty journalist and co-founder of @thewingwoman (opens in new tab), a weekly podcast and newsletter about thirty-something life, honestly.
Frankie has over a decade of experience working as a writer, editor, podcaster and consultant. She has been a regular contributor to a number of high-profile publishers including The Telegraph, The Times, Grazia, You Magazine, Glamour and woman&home.
Frankie has interviewed numerous industry experts and celebrities, from Claudia Schiffer and Karlie Kloss to Sam McKnight and Trinny Woodall. She has also created content for numerous fashion and beauty brands including Liberty of London, Whistles, Kitri, Hush and more.
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