Lani Inlander, owner and chief stylist of Real Life Style, a styling consulting firm in Washington, DC. Lani has been styling clients across the US for more than 20 years. Real-Life-Style.com.
Bottom Line: Great collars… great cuffs…sleek cuts for every body.
As a stylist, I am obsessed with a good overcoat. I collect them. I must have 30! Of course, no one needs to own that many, but everyone should at least have a solid-colored short or midlength style and a good long coat that will match the majority of his/her wardrobe.
Start by checking your closet to assess what you own. Depending on the cut, quality and fabric, you may have coats that you’ve been wearing for the last 20 years. If they are classics, that may be fine. But styles, silhouettes and trends change about every five to seven years—and a trendier coat may go out of style sooner. It’s likely time for a winter coat update to keep your wardrobe fresh and fashionable while maintaining quality.
Look for signs of a well-made coat—buttons that are sewn on well…no loose or hanging threads…50% or higher natural fabrics such as wool or cashmere versus synthetics such as acrylic and polyester (unless you’re buying a down coat). If you’re buying online, you already know to read the customer reviews for help gauging fit, sizing and durability. But you might not know the buzzwords that signal warmth, such as “double-faced” and “removable liner.”
Quality overcoats can be pricey, so take advantage of Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales—prices are likely to shoot up afterward. Here, my picks for great-looking coats for women and men—including budget-friendly ones and splurges.
Chesterfield coat: Uniqlo Men’s Wool Cashmere Chesterfield Coat (available in black, brown and navy), $150. Every man should own a coat that looks like this. It will never go out of style, so you can keep it for a long time. And with a 90/10 wool/cashmere blend, it should hold up nicely.
Peacoat: Lands’ End Men’s Wool Peacoat (available in dark charcoal heather and true navy), $300. This is a perfect casual coat in a classic silhouette. It looks sophisticated on older and younger men. The Primaloft insulation is a bonus. The collar turns up and fastens with a latch to keep your neck covered.
Dress coat: Lands’ End Men’s Wool Overcoat (available in navy, camel and dark charcoal heather), $350. This super-elegant coat is one you can use for work and dressy occasions. There’s an adjustable cuff detail and lots of pockets. It’s made of 75% wool with 25% nylon for durability, and it can withstand temps as low as 5°F.
Car-length coat: Michael Kors Men’s Water-Resistant Overcoat with Zip-Out Liner (available in black and charcoal), $395. The star of this coat is the zip-out bib liner (think of it more like a removable vest), making it practical and versatile. You can wear it this way before and after the cold-weather months. The length will flatter men of all heights, and the back vent makes it roomy. To top it off, it’s water-resistant and has both interior and exterior pockets.
Classic silhouette: Uniqlo Cashmere Blend Chester Coat (available in gray, black and beige), $150. You can’t go wrong with this classic coat. The silhouette is not too fitted and not too boxy. The low button placement and thinner lapels are flattering on women with a larger bust. And the neckline will look good with all kinds of scarves. The fact that it’s 90% wool and 10% cashmere means you’ll stay warm and you can expect it to last. Uniqlo clothes are durable, and because the clothes sell at such high volume, prices often are low.
Car-length coat: Marc New York Paige Bouclé Coat (available in seven colors including burgundy, brick, mustard and ivory), $275. This is a great in-between length and has a neckline that flatters the face. The pockets are deep, and there’s a bonus pocket inside. The bouclé fabric provides a rich texture, and the brick and burgundy colors are fantastic. Burgundy actually is a neutral and goes well with brown and black clothes, shoes and accessories. But if you want to be totally on-trend, go with the mustard color—it’s huge now.
Walker coat: Kenneth Cole Asymmetrical Bouclé Walker Coat (available in periwinkle, black, blush and zinc), $275. It’s roomy enough to be comfortable, but it’s still a flattering cut, especially if you’re pear-shaped—and the pockets are in the perfect place to emphasize your waistline. The funnel neckline means that you don’t have to wear a scarf to stay warm, but it also can fold over for a completely different look. The periwinkle color looks terrific on gray-haired women.
Double-breasted coat: Talbots Boiled Wool Double-Breasted Coat (available in indigo and light pink), $300. If you have blond, silver or gray hair, the pink will look phenomenal on you. It’s such a hot color now. Either way, the coat is incredibly versatile. It’s 80% wool and 20% nylon for a soft, warm feel. You could dress it up with a scarf, but it looks great with jeans, too.
Wrap coat: Sam Edelman Double Face Wool Blend Wrap Coat with Hood (available in gray with a blue lining), $350. The blue lining gives the coat a nice pop…but it’s still a neutral and looks great with black. The oversized hood is a nice design touch and practical, too. Though it’s a wrap coat, the belt is removable and you can use the snaps to keep it closed. A wrap coat is a great pick if your size fluctuates.
Shawl-collar coat: Lauren Ralph Lauren Faux-Fur-Collar Walker Coat (available in gray, vicuna and black), $355. The faux-fur collar makes this a dressier option, plus it’s warm and soft around your neck. The “fit and flare” style is flattering and gives you a little extra room at the hips. If you’re bigger on the bottom, the collar will draw attention up to your face. There’s a buttoned tab on the back waist that’s a stylish touch, as are the fold-over cuffs and slanted pockets.
Maxi coat: Lauren Ralph Lauren Maxi Reefer Coat (available in vicuna and black), $420. Lauren Ralph Lauren makes such classically elegant silhouettes that you’ll definitely be able to keep this one for a while. Note the menswear-inspired ticket pocket. Don’t think you have to be tall to pull off a maxi coat. A long coat—assuming it’s tailored—actually can make a shorter person look taller, especially if you wear a higher heel or boot. This coat is not too bulky, so you won’t look like you’re drowning in fabric.