How to Choose the Best Winter Coat

How to Choose the Best Winter Coat

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 back to Ohio for the holidays I definitely need a warm 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!

I already knew what I wanted, a gorgeous white double-breasted wool coat. I used to think it was out of the question because it would get really dirty, but now I have two. As I’ve been expanding my winter coat collection, I realized there is no such thing as too many winter coats!

There are so many different types of coats out there, I am writing this post to help you narrow down your options and help choosing a winter jacket for every occastion this year!

How to Choose the Best Winter Coat

Winter coats can be 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. In this instance only with my clothing, I do look at function over fashion, but only a little bit over, the jacket still needs to look good! Luckily I don’t have to choose between the two often!

Color is up to you, and while white or light colors are a risk, they always look beautiful. Your primary concern should be the style of the coat you are looking at. 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!

Wool Coats

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 current trends are leaning towards longer these days.

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 the clothes underneath dirty. While that is an outdated use, the coat is still useful in keeping us warm in the winter! I look at wool 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 best for weather or precipitation since they usually come with a hood. A calf-length car coat will be your best bet out of this bunch for warmth because they are longer. This also leans into the classic quiet luxury, trend that is very popular right now.

How to Choose the Best Winter Coat

The Puffer Coat

Puffer coats are big and to state the obvious, puffy. They are usually filled with one of two types of insulation: down or down alternative. Down is a natural material from animals, typical goose feathers, but does not insulate well when wet. Synthetic material, or down alternative is made from polyester to mimic down. It is breathable and insulates even when wet.

These are great for people who are outside often in the winter because they keep in your body heat. 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 lightweight puffers and ideally, ones that are water-resistant in Dallas. This lightweight puffer from Uniqulo is easy to pack when I need an extra layer when I travel.

However, a solid heavy-weight puffer that Northface is known for is necessary for colder climates and extra warmth. This Northface jacket has a windproof 100% recycled GORE-TEX shell. GORE-TEX products are windproof, and breathable and create a waterproof shell around the garment.

I need a durable water-resistant (DWR treatment) coat for Texas winters. My favorites are those with a removable hood, like this black Lauren Ralph Lauren one below. This one is more like an outer shell, whereas some others are insulated jackets with cozy fur lining.

The Teddy Coat or Fur 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 very wind-proof or insulated. So wear these coats on your mild winter days when you’ll only be running into brunch from the car. Mob-boss chic is in style for 2024, so grab your fur and jewels!

Oftentimes, 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.

teddy coat outfit
faux fur jacket outfit

The Parka

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 you from the cold weather. I’m sure I owned some in Ohio, but I haven’t needed one 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!)

The Non-Coat

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 want to show it off, so you add the vest as another layer, or 3) it’s an accessory and not useful at all. I have 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.

How to Choose the Best Winter Coats or vests

Coats vs Jackets

Coats extend below the hips, and jackets feature shorter often lighter styles. 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!

How to Choose the Best Winter Coats , wool coat and boots
How to Choose the Best Winter Coats , teddy coat and boots
camel coat outfit

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  1. Oh how I love the coat season!

    Posted 11.9.18 Reply