Suddenly it’s cold. We’ve been living in a jacket but now it’s time to put on a warm coat. It’s also an amazing time to buy a new winter coat. With many people around the world being asked not to go out so much retailers are struggling to sell winter outdoor wear. So you’ll find incredible bargains. And as a winter coat may be one of your more expensive items this is very good news.
Worried you might not get much use out of a coat this season? Reckon a winter coat will last you at least 5 years. You’ll be kicking yourself next Fall if you waste this opportunity to buy top quality outerwear at up to 57% off.
Here are my tips on how to select the right coat in 2020 – 2021.
If you just want to see my top picks for winter 2020 – 2021 then scroll down to the bottom of this post. I’ve selected some great bargains online through UK and US retailers.
As always my recommendations and tips are aimed at older women from 50 to 90.
What style of coat works for your lifestyle?
When will you wear the coat?
- If you work then it all depends on how you get there. If you walk from the underground or the bus then you’ll need a wool coat that reaches at least to just above your knees but a longer coat might be even better.
- If you travel by car it’s difficult to justify replacing your wool coat very often because you’ll only be wearing it for weekend outings such as shopping (when that happens again) or evenings when you walk round to the local pub or restaurant (remember those days?). You’ll be wearing a jacket mainly.
- But if you’re retired as I am, a wool coat suddenly becomes necessary again. To keep fit, even if for no other reason, we retirees walk places these days. After all we’ve got the time. And we like shopping for food locally and chatting to independent shop owners now we don’t need to lug mountains of eats back to the family.
We take the dog out more. We go to farmers markets. We potter around towns and pop into museums and galleries. We go out just for the hell of it (when we are allowed by our government health rules).
Think about where and when you’ll be wearing a coat this winter. That will help decide the style and weight. Here are the styles to consider.
The traditional winter coat
I’ve included in my picks several traditionally styled wool coats. These will frankly last you years.
Today people wear these classic coats over every type of outfit even jogging pants. I’d avoid a heavy sweater though as it will pull the coat too tight. A fine merino wool roll neck would be perfect.
Just a warning about style. Unless you are tall and slim avoid a tie belt. A wool coat is already adding a few inches to your silhouette. Tie a thick belt around your middle and it’s easy to look ‘bundled up against the weather’.
Stick to long straight lines. The traditional coat usually has a neat notched collar and a line of buttons down the front. If there are useable pockets they’ll be carefully angled so as not to upset the straight, or slightly fitted, lines of the coat.
If your coat has a belt, think twice about tying it in front. I find knotting it loosely at the back or even just letting the ends hang down at the sides suits me much better.
This classic style looks good on everyone and whilst there are small changes every year (after all retailers need you to rebuy) these rarely cause your coat to look out of fashion.
So get a good quality coat as it should be a staple for ten years or more.
The more casual winter coat
If you feel the traditional coat is too severe or dressy for you then opt for a coat with less structure.
It will be cut to hang loosely.
Look for a soft shoulder rather than the squared set-in sleeve of the traditional winter coat. This is perfect over any casual outfit including athleisure.
Pockets are worth having on a casual coat. Front patch pockets are very casual whilst side pockets are perhaps more useful and a little more smart.
Pockets are a nice warm place to keep your hands on a cold day. And if you’re wearing this coat open over a sweater, keeping your hands in the pockets helps to maintain a strong straight line along the front edges of the coat – slimming you and making you look taller.
The wider cut of a casual winter coat helps mask larger hips or tummy too. But to do this the back must fall straight. If it bulges over your backside then it’s too small and will emphasise your rear end.
So never buy a coat without looking in a rear mirror.
The athleisure winter coat
I honestly believe every woman needs a puffer jacket or padded coat these days. They’re not a fad – they’ve been in style for at least a decade. They are the athleisure take on outerwear.
Look for a lightweight down-filled puffer coat if you’ll be in and out of shops or striding along a country path. Buy a coat marked as warm if you’ll be standing at a bus stop or wearing it in the evenings.
Pockets are everything on these jackets and coats. You need zips on pockets sewn in the seams in order to keep a good line. The coat itself is adding a lot to your shape so make sure the lines of the coat are clear – so people know it’s the coat, not you, that’s so large.
You’ll need zipped pockets anyway because you don’t want to be toting a bag around, unless it’s a cross body type. Money, phone, keys. Never buy a puffer coat that won’t keep these safe. I find the fabric too slippy to wear a shoulder bag. And stuffing your hands in the waist high seam pockets is all part of the look so you’ll carry a bag less often.
Puffer coats come in waisted or straight. The straight ones are usually warmer. But the waisted ones look good with proper trousers not just jeans and joggers.
The super casual warm winter coat
If a puffer isn’t your style how about a duffle coat? This reworked military style will keep you really warm. They tend to be quite heavy so not so good if you’ll be carrying it in case the temperature drops. But ideal on a really wintery day.
The straight lines and heavy seaming help to give you a neat look.
The above knee length works well with jeans and narrow pants. It also looks chic with mid calf length skirts if you enjoy wearing less classic looks.
Consider buying your duffle coat in a fun color. It feminises the military campaign look and reminds us mothers and grandmothers of our favorite little bear.
What’s the best color for a winter coat?
You’ll find most coats are black, navy or dark wine red for the winter. But it doesn’t need to be so. I bought a bright orange winter coat after having navy or black for half a century. I’ve worn that coat masses.
Bright colors or a pattern always work well when the coat is fastened closed. If you want to wear it open then you’re going to have to think about your outfit that will show.
I try to wear a single color outfit under my orange coat. It works brilliantly with black or navy top and pants. But I sometimes wear two neutral colors as my outfit – I think that still looks OK.
Wearing a bright coat over a dark outfit works just as well to slim and elongate your silhouette as wearing a dark coat over a lighter outfit. It’s the contrast and the straight lines that do the trick.
Traditional classic coats
This structured wool and cashmere coat is over the knee so good for smart day or evening wear. Hang it loose over your shoulders if you’re wearing a suit as the weight will help it stay in place and look smart. It’s by designer L K Bennett and you can buy it at a greatly reduced price (well over £100 off right now) through John Lewis online who have the best terms for fast delivery and return policy even outside UK.
Their smart structured coat. A classic. Wool and cashmere. I’ve had this fabric in a slightly different style and it is so very soft. This coat is amazing value – beautifully made and will last a decade.
Great reduction of well over 50% but hurry as some sizes are already sold out. Dress up or leave to hang open over athleisure pants. Love the navy and green plaid. Will look more interesting than your plain navy coat and actually just as stylable. Very slightly more casually cut yet retaining that traditional look which can take you everywhere, day or evening.
More casual coats
A wool blend coat with a relaxed fit in a toffee shade or black. Three-quarter to seven-eighth length so can be worn happily by a petite. The back has a good straight hang because of the casual cut. A good way to camouflage larger hips.
This is the type of wool blend coat I would buy, especially as there’s currently £160 off. It’s more relaxed with a softer less structured line. You’ll tend to wear it open (nice parallel lines down your front to look slimming!) and it’s cut roomy enough for a sweater. The large dogtooth check is fun and will transform a casual outfit to a much more on-trend classy look. Wear it with knee high boots in black. Keep the outfit beneath to one solid color – black will look stunning but so will any solid color- red, green anything you can pair up pants and top. If they did it in petite I’d have bought this already – but aghhhhh it will drown me in the regular length. Love the big flat square pockets – perfect for your phone. Leave your bag at home.
A good length even for petites. I used to own a coat very much like this and I loved the high military look collar when fully closed. It adds length without the coat falling below the knee and it makes your silhouette look narrower.
Petite and regular sizes. Above the knee. This works well for jeans but also with a longer skirt – it portions you into eye-pleasing thirds! Wool mix with a sweet rounded collar so do it up and look cute or let it hang open and look relaxed. Several colors. Good reductions currently.
A just-above-the-knee puffer coat with hood. Perfect for shorties like me as it comes in petite. Lighter than a duffle. Being Boden you can get it in several colors including this adorable pink – perfect for driving the blues away (pun intended).
M&S have been the go-to UK retailer for quilted or padded puffer jackets and coats for years. This sweet coat comes in several colors including this gorgeous pink (it will take you right through spring too). Concealed hood and useful high collar when closed. Light weight. Incredibly good price. As it’s shorter than most coats it will look good on a petite too and there are a huge range of sizes.
Good looking three quarter length padded jacket with adorable faux fur edged hood that gives it ‘snow bells’ charm to nestle into. You could wear this any day for any occasion and it would even look good over smart trousers or a dress for the evening. Good discount.
I’ve got a Boden duffle that’s years and years old and it’s still looking good. Ideal for everything from walking the moors to shopping in the market. It’s really a choice between a duffle or a puffer coat these days.
Notes about the retailers. They all ship internationally – note that JohnLewis has stopped shipping outside the UK for the moment (2022-3). Just check the price in your currency and also the delivery and return costs – if any. Boden now has shops in the USA and a dedicated US site giving you the same good delivery times and generous returns as their .co.uk site, so there are two links under each Boden image.
Note that if you click and buy on the links in this article I may get a small commission at no cost to you. Thank-you for your support.
Update 2023: I still stand by all the coats above as being useful and stylish. However retailers will likely have restocked with slightly different updated versions by now. So it’s still worth taking a look at the sites suggested if you like the general style of a coat here.
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