The temperature in Wellington today was what I believe the meteorologists call "unnecessarily cold FFS". And so it is the time to talk about the most important winter accessory of all - your coat (and/or jacket).
Now, I understand that you think that your coat is in fact clothing, and not an accessory, but this is because you haven't applied science, our old friend on this blog, to the question. Let's examine the facts *puts on lab coat*
Clothing = things you use to cover your nakedness in a method deemed socially appropriate
Accessories = things you wear to add drama and pizzazz to an outfit otherwise made up of clothes
Now, unless we are doing winter in very different ways, you are not using your coat to cover your naked body. If you choose the right coat, then it will definitely add drama and pizzazz. And so, science complete, coats cannot be clothing and therefore must be an accessory. This is why it's okay that I own 10 of them.
Lab coats off! Let's talk about three options that will change the way you think about winter.
It's a known fact that there's feck all sun in wintertime - days are shorter, skies are more likely to be full of rain clouds or, in some horrendous instances, tornadoes. But is there anything nicer than a winter day when it's cold and crisp and the sun is out? Yes, and that is that same day but you happen to be wearing a metallic jacket that multiplies the beams of the sun in a way that is pleasing to all.
Plus, bonus points, vinyl/faux leather jackets like this one are totally rain repellent, just in case that sun sidles off and you're stuck with showers instead. They're also a great wind breaker - if anything I get too hot in this jacket, since it's not breathable and therefore I get my own little hothouse effect going. Team it with a casual combo of a jumper and jeans to balance the metallic, or wear it as the perfect topper for a party in winter.
Shiny vinyl and patent leather are great alternative interpretations of this approach, too!
I love this pre-loved houndstooth coat I bought for song because while it's still classic, it's not boring. The all over print, the large buttons and the cape-like style all make it majorly pizzazz-y.
Big print trends this year include checks (check out this blog post and no, that pun was not on purpose) and leopard print. If this is your first print then you really want to think about the colours you love to wear, rather than automatically picking out something neutral - again, a coat is a standalone accessory in winter. There's really no need for this to coordinate with the outfit underneath since it covers the entire thing anyway - instead it's like getting a second outfit out of every day that I wear it. So go crazy! Or buy something neutral if that's what you prefer, you're an adult and you make your own rules.
This fur is faux, but I'm also open to wearing the vintage fur my Mum has passed down to me (just slightly scared I'll get shouted at by someone in the street). Faux fur is great because it adds both visual texture and "snuggability" to an outfit, both of which are wins in winter. I've written before about the use of texture to create interest in an outfit and fur is ideal for wearing alongside knits, silk and woven textures in winter.
I like to pair this with more unusual jewellery like this chunky plastic necklace from Unearthed Vintage here in Wellington. My vibe here is "eccentrically stylish older lady perhaps living in Queens". Just make sure you keep the interpretation modern, as fur can quickly look cheap or a bit too costume-y. This season the trend is for teddy bear faux fur, but I'll be loyal to this kind of fur instead.
A note on faux fur - did you know that because real fur is so cheap to produce (I know, horrible), you can inadvertently buy real fur that's been promoted as faux? Keep your eyes peeled for the tell-tale fine tapered ends on the fur, and feel for the texture underlying the fur - real fur is obviously on a hide, so the base will feel thicker. And keep in mind that faux fur isn't without its own problems thanks to its polluting ways. Try to buy preloved, or limit your intake.
My other coat-related tips (in a nutshell)
- Buy a coat that fits. You should try it on while wearing the kind of jumper you would typically wear under it in winter, to ensure a proper fit. A coat that's too tight will be uncomfortable, and a coat that's too big (in the wrong way) will let in cold air. In both instances you'll waste the opportunity for your coat to look A.M.A.Z.E.
- It's really truly worth buying vintage coats and looking for preloved options. Coats on the high street are really expensive, and I'd rather spend half as much (less, even) than I would at Glassons and buy something that's really well made and far less likely to be spotted on every corner.
- The ideal coat is 100% wool and fully lined. I have one coat that hits both of those criteria and it is unbelievably warm. Synthetics will make your coat more affordable and possibly easier to care for, but having one fully wool coat will change your life on the really cold days.
- Think about the length of your coat. It should be a good proportion for your body, but it should also reflect things like the skirt lengths you like to wear. I love the look of a coat that fully covers the dress underneath it, which is why I've collected three longer coats. Equally, you might not care about this but want greater maneuverability, in which case a shorter coat is probably right for you. Think it through!
- Have your sleeves taken up if, like me, you have shorter arms than commercial sleeve lengths. Trust me, it is a game changer.
- ALWAYS dry your coat after you've worn it in the rain - fully. Not only is it more pleasant to wear, it will make your coat last longer and prevent any kind of issues in your wardrobe. This is why I think it's wise to own at least two winter coats, so you have an option should you get drenched (even if your second coat is just a cheapo back up option from the local op shop).
- I know padded hangers might seem like a lie told to sell us more stuff, but they are actually great. Your coats are heavy, and they need more support. Respect them.
- Buy a debobbler. A de-bobbled coat is a good looking coat, and when you carry your bag etc you might create texture on the coat surface. Also excellent for all that knitwear.
- Finally, because why not finish on nine tips, try hard not to put your hands in your pockets if your coat is fitted. Buy yourself some decent gloves, otherwise you will stretch out the fabric in the coat and it will never look as good as it did before you stretched it.
Have I missed any critical coat ownership tips? And what's your favorite coat?