The greatest issue I take with winter is the matter of coats. I don’t really mind the cold if I could figure out how to make my coat feel as much a part of my outfit as, like, jeans. I might even marvel in the cold because, you know, I’m warm, but I look cool. Or whatever, even if I’m not so warm—just warm enough, I’m fine with just looking cool. But the problem remains: coats ruin outfits. Not all of them, but therein probably lies the real challenge.
In the depths of winter, it can start to feel like you need a different coat for every different occasion. But this is unrealistic because coats take up a shit load of space, and they tend to be kind of expensive. So you find yourself in this predicament of having to negotiate which role is the most important one for your your coat to play. Most sane people will probably prioritize warmth over all else, so you get your coat, then think “Oh, thank God, I’m not freezing.”
But then as you endeavor to get dressed in the morning, feeling like you’re about to reach flow state because whyhasn’titoccurredtoyouthatwearingahenleyoveraturtleneckwithastrandofpearlstuckedintojeansisthebestideaever, you realize that your over-layer is going to fuck everything up because for as many times as you have professed that you need a soft shoulder if you’re going to wear boots with a pointed toe or a short coat if you’re going to wear jeans, and that it ought to be collarless if you’re wearing a turtleneck, you’ve never actually found The One.
Now, it could be that The One does not exist, which I say with semi-conviction based on experience, but man how great would it be if we could find one coat to replace all others? To meet enough of the criteria that satisfies my warmth and cool factors so that even if it fucks up the occasional outfit, it works for me, instead of against me, more often than not. This is, you know, the precise prompt that led me to an investigation I feel lucky to call “market research,” but which is referred to more formally as, “online window shopping.”
I turned the pages of various consignment and discount shops upside down to find what I might call coat nirvana. The legwork I did in advance was to evaluate what kinds of clothes I wear most frequently—is it jeans? Leggings? With boots or sneakers? How often do I wear dresses or skirts? Chunky sweaters, or fine knits, or layers and layers of both? The answers to these questions (I mostly wear jeans, with boots, very occasionally wear dresses or skirts—mostly they’re mini—and layers of both) created guardrails to help inform my definition of nirvana. I’ve identified it as a coat that is fun enough to throw over something boring, short enough that when you’re wearing something short, you don’t look like your socks are tucked into your pants, accentuating the difference in size between your ankles and calves, but long enough that your butt’s not freezing. Ideally it is collarless, but I’m open.
Now! Your answers are going to be different from mine, so I’ve separated out the greatest coats by theme.
The functional ones
As in, fun to look at, but also fun to wear. They pair best with wide leg pants and flat shoes with durable soles—like a classic mens loafer or brogue. I didn’t include this Bottega coat because it is still $1,163 dollars, but it has been haunting me since 2018.
Fashion missed connections
Calvin Klein from the brief reign of Raf Simons, Saint Laurent from the true Yves days, Phoebe’s Celine and just, idk, a great $275 fringe coat that is an extra 20% off; call these long fellow deeds (will literally buy you one of the above if you get that reference) the ideal counterparts for a wardrobe that is full of office attire in the form of fine knits, trouser pants, and the occasional pencil skirt. Personally, I’d prefer them if I were a fitness instructor and most regularly draped in sneakers and leggings. Contrast! You know?
Ye longe shearling
I think this category might be the closest we’ll come to nirvana, I imagine all of these pairing well with jeans, or athleisure or work clothes, particularly if you are after a vibe that makes you look like a commuter from the Upper West Side, but then again…
Apres ski coats for the year 1985
I hesitated even showing you that first Descente coat (the green one) because I want it, but I’m not self-serving (eh), so let’s call this a close second to coat nirvana—I’m less enthusiastic about our wearing such covers with jeans, but how great with a pair of like, velvet trousers, or some formal wide-leg pinstriped numbers. The people won’t know what to do with themselves, they won’t know who you are: a professional ski lodger or member of the corporate workforce.
Short, sweet, and to the point. Great for people who hate how scarves look layered into collared coats. It’s fussy. You know? And finally…
I think I’m becoming a cape person?
This one is probably not as helpful for you, but I think I am going to get that Tory Burch poncho and call it a season. It’s unlikely that I’ll wear it with anything but pants, but good news for me: I’m a regular round those parts anyway. I sure as shit hope there’s something in here for you. Was this helpful? LMK.