It’s that time of year again, I’m breaking out my coats and getting ready for winter.
While technically winter begins on Dec 21, I find myself needing warmth long before then. In Dallas, I am usually able to stick with jackets and layers, but when I travel home for Thanksgiving later this month I’ll almost definitely need a coat. I bought a new one for the first time in a few years. I’d been putting it off since I don’t wear one often, but when I do need it, I really miss having a good one! My old one was great but it got pilled and, the lining was ripped, and it was absolutely covered in scarf fuzz and dog fur that no matter how many lint rollers I used, I couldn’t get off. It was time, so I donated the old one and picked up a brand new winter coat!
I already knew what I wanted, a gorgeous white double-breasted wool coat. But with my dogs, when I would actually wear the coat (aka with the dogs) and how much I would travel with it, white was completely out of the question. So I am writing this post in hopes I can help you narrow down your options and choose the best winter coat this year!
How to Choose the Best Winter Coat
Winter coats are a big investment, not only for the cost, but you typically keep them for years, and shouldn’t have to replace them often. This is why I like to stick with the classic styles and in this instance only, categorize my outerwear for function over fashion. Luckily I don’t have to choose between the two often!
Color is up to you, but white or light colors are a risk if you’re traveling a lot of walking around a dirty city, sitting on public surfaces, going to be around people, kids, dogs. Your primary concern should be the style. Really think about what you are going to wear the coat with and in what situations you will need one. I’ve broken down the different styles below and what they are best suited for!
I’m grouping a few of these together since they are of similar style. Peacoats, carcoats, and duffle or toggle coats are typically wool or a wool-blend material and hang anywhere from right below your hips to mid-calf length. Above the knee are more casual and below lean more formal. These coats are all classics, and while variations will come and go, they are going to be around for a long time.
The camel color coat that I’m wearing in the photos below is considered a car coat due to its square shape. People wore car coats in the 1800s to cover their clothing so they didn’t get dirty. While that is an outdated use, the coat is still useful in keeping us warm in the winter! I look at all of these styles of coats as all-purpose, because you can wear them casually with your daily jeans and boots combo, or with a dress or skirt to a party. Toggle coats will be your best bet out of this bunch for warmth because they usually come with a hood.
The Puffer Coat
Puffer coats are big and to state the obvious, puffy. They’re usually filled with down or down alternative filling for insulation. These are great for people who are outside often in the winter. You can get them in different lengths, weights, colors, and styles, but most importantly, they work. Formerly, these coats wouldn’t have been a super trendy choice, but since 90s fashion is big now, they are more trendy than ever! I’m personally a fan of the lightweight puffers, like this one that I got for Christmas last year. They are lightweight and easy to pack when I need an extra layer when I travel.
The Teddy Coat
Unless you’re spending a good chunk of change on real fur, in my experience, a teddy coat will not be as warm as it looks. While usually lined, they are not wind-proof or insulated. So wear these coats on your mild winter days when you’ll only be running into brunch from the car.
Often times, teddy coats are structured as cocoon coats where they do not cinch at the waist and have little shape, like my gray one pictured below. I love coats like this because they’re fun to wear and attract extra attention and hugs. But be warned, you’ll likely have strangers petting you, so get comfortable getting to know people when you wear it.
Parkas are the ultimate winter coat. It is going to be your best bet if you are outside a lot and need to stay warm at all costs. Parkas have come a long way in the last few years, but ultimately, you care more about warmth than fashion when you pick one out. They are wind-proof, well insulated, and always come with a hood to protect from the cold. I’m sure I owned some in Ohio, but I haven’t needed on in the last 4 years since I’ve been in Texas (even on my visits home). This is going to be the coat for college students, a public commuter who walks to transit, someone who parks in the back of the lot at work and has a long walk to the door, you get the picture.
(I’m not even sure of the last time I owned a parka, so I don’t have a picture in one!)
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, the non-coat (think capes, vests, etc) are for high-fashion ladies. If you’re wearing a vest you’re one of 3 people: 1) It’s a chilly fall day, somewhere in the 50s or 60s and you’re wearing an appropriate layer for the weather. 2) It’s colder out but you love your outfit and wanted to show it off, so you add the vest as another layer, or 3) it’s an accessory and not useful at all. I’m not judging because I’ve absolutely been all of these people. Currently, I only have 2 vests, one is a quilted vest appropriate for scenario 1, and the other is a fur vest usually appropriate for scenario 2, but it’s small so I can’t fit enough layers under it, so it turns into the third option.
Capes are another anomaly. They can actually be warm and are created to be so. But either your arms stick outside of the cape, or they are inside and your arm function goes out the window. Either way, you care about your outfit more than either of these other things if you are an avid cape wear-er. Capes can be casual or dressy, and rarely anything in between. The casual capes are like large scarves or small blankets, wool or wool-blend. Also, they are shaped so they drape perfectly over your shoulders. You can belt them or let them hang. I see them being really useful on an airplane. More formal capes are usually fur/faux-fur or wool and meant to be worn over formal dresses, or in some cases may work with dress pants.
Coats vs Jackets
Coats extend below the hips, jackets are shorter and often lighter. I usually stick with jackets in Dallas because the weather is much milder than in the north. I love my various moto-jackets, but they aren’t the warmest pieces I own! I’m excited to wear my newer options and actually be warm this year! The biggest difference is that you probably have quite a few jackets, but only one or a couple of coats. You can see and shop my favorite coats and jackets on this page of the blog!