01 February 2009

A coat for protection

As the cold winds drift from the north one finds the warmth of a new winter coat a welcome retreat. There are many coat options to help you brace yourself against the elements, but please avoid wearing your ski parka to the office or out on the town. You’ll be better served by a traditional coat that ends midway between your thigh and knee. If you knew how to pick a winter coat, you’d know the difference between a jacket and a coat: a jacket rests at your hips and does little to keep you truly warm and can’t be worn over a thick sweater or blazer, and a coat is made of a thicker, natural fabric and is a must to keep you warm.

So, to keep you toasty when the temperatures turn frigid, follow our tips on how to pick a winter coat.


The first thing in knowing how to pick a winter coat is understanding fabric. The best fabrics to keep you warm are wool and cashmere. Cashmere is far warmer, but the high cost and short durability of the fabric often make it moot against the strength of wool in snowy conditions. If you need a really warm coat, opt for one that also has a thin layer of Thinsulate or goose down sewn into the typical lining. This will give you an extra layer, but in most cases a wool or cashmere coat needs only the acetate lining for a comfortable fit over your clothes; the outer fabric itself does all the work.


Choosing the right fit is essential in knowing how to pick a winter coat. To find the right fit, simply go up one size over your typical suit jacket size; this allows you to move easily without the layers binding at your shoulders and neck. The shoulder seams themselves should fall just over the edge of your natural shoulder. This will give you a better profile line while wearing a sport coat or suit. And it is acceptable to forego a traditional topcoat and wear a coat over a suit for daily wear, but after 6 p.m. is another story. When in doubt, go shopping while wearing a blazer or thick sweater. Not all coats follow the same measurement dimensions, so this will give you a better idea of fit and comfort. But don’t just slip the coat on: find a chair and sit down while wearing the coat; raise your arms; bend down and tie your shoe. You’ll be sporting this new coat in a variety of situations and you need to give it a real test drive before buying it.

Cashmere Elements Chevron Jacket - Credit: NeimanMarcus.com Style

The most fashionable options come in a variety of styles and prices.

Cashmere Elements Chevron Jacket

A modern take on a military-inspired design, the charcoal and gray colors allow you to pair this coat with either black, brown or navy clothing. Under a suit it takes on a formal appearance, but can be easily worn with jeans or corduroy trousers for weekend जौंट्स

Andrew Marc Marcus Coat - Credit: NeimanMarcus.comAndrew Marc Marcus Coat

This is true casual elegance for winter with a pea-coat cut and longer drape than usual. If you work in a semi-casual office or just like to be a little more structured in your weekend wear, this is your new coat.

J. Crew Officer’s Topcoat

This double-breasted number hits nearly at the knee and lets you stay warm on those long commutes across town. The collar has a wide cut that when turned up protects you against the wind without making you look like you’re cold The back belt and button accents give you a trim silhouette and allow the coat to drape off your waist, preventing a box-like look. J. Crew Officer’s Topcoat - Credit: JCrew.com

Endovanera Most Jacket

Perhaps the most daring winter coast of them all is not for the traditional man-about-town. The unusual yet refreshing style of placing the button closure on a wide downward angle breathes new life into the design of winter coats. The collar and shoulder line are masculine and militaristic, but the cut and the included hood are modern and functional in ways few coats dare to be. The additional buttons on each sleeve cuff that reach nearly to the elbow evoke the frock coats of the French Revolution.

coat yourself in style

Endovanera Most Jacket - Credit: RevolveClothing.com Whichever coat you choose, remember to care for it once the winter season has passed. Have it dry-cleaned and wrap it in a suit hanger until next year. This way you’ll preserve your investment, but you’ll also have a garment that is ready to wear on that first chilly day when everyone else is scrambling to find something warm.

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