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By Chere Di Boscio
Forget the LBD: a winter coat may well be the most important sartorial purchase you’ll ever make. On average, you’ll wear it five times a week in the season; you’ll keep it for an average of three years, and most vitally: no matter what you’ve got on underneath, it will be the first thing people see when you walk into cafes, bars, restaurants, parties and work.
In short, it’s important to choose this piece well, and in order to do so, you need to keep some things in mind:
1. Be patient
This is something you will wear again and again. Flip through magazines (or scroll down!) and seek out ‘the One’ – the coat you truly love. It may take time, but won’t you just kick yourself if you buy something out of immediate need or frustration, then see ‘the One’ a few weeks later?
2. Make room for layers
As it gets colder, you will want to bulk up, be it through layers or thicker sweaters. Make sure the coat you choose won’t be straining at the buttons if you do.
3. Spend the money
A coat is a true investment piece. A really good one can literally be passed down through generations; one of the most gorgeous coats I’ve ever seen was a super-long Chanel wool military number owned by my friend Andrea, who got the coat from her mom. She looks amazing in it! Her mom must have spent a mint on it, but that coat has been going for at least 25 years now. If you’re not lucky enough to inherit something, save up and spend money on a coat that could well become a heritage piece itself.
4. Know your body
Thick waisted? Forget a cinched, belted coat. Petite? A cocoon coat could consume you. Shorter than 5′ tall? Full length military could make you look like you’re playing dress up. Be aware.
5. Get pockets!
You will need these. For keys, for tissues, for phones and of course, for hands when you forget your gloves. A must-have.
6. Be prepared for wear
Yes, white coats are lovely. But how long can you keep that clean, really? Got a cat? Then maybe that full length black wool coat isn’t such a great idea. 100% wool? Remember this could easily pill. Coats are worn more than most items in your wardrobe and are exposed to all kinds of city pollution, table spills and seat disasters, so make sure it’s a garment you can easily keep clean, and that will withstand a lot of wear in heavy snows, winds and rain.
7. Nix the trends
Remember how last year, the pink cocoon coat was all the rage? How would you feel wearing that now? Choose a classic coat in navy, black or camel – these colours never go out of style, especially for outerwear. Experiment with styles, but keep in mind some are eternal; every year a designer will show a bomber, a pea coat or something rather military looking.
8. Keep an open mind
If you want eco-friendly, you needn’t hit a designated sustainable designer- loads of designers use pure alpaca, wool and cashmere in their winter designs. They may not be as eco-friendly as a brand that uses recycled wool, plastics or other such materials, but it’s a start. Also some high street stores like Zara or Les Kooples create quality coats from these materials and don’t cost a mint. The idea is to find the right fit, colour, size and fabric, not the right brand.
So which coat to pick? We’ve found 11 sustainable luxury coats we would LOVE to own:
The high collar on this coat will keep you super warm even when it’s really blustery outside, but what we love most about this coat is the fact that it’s made from alpaca. The animals are never hurt for their fur, which is shaved off to create a very soft, water resistant material that’s light but highly protective.
We love, love, love this coat with its graphic design. Kind of reminds us of a Matisse or Picasso drawing: minimalist, abstract, but somehow impactful. Love it too? Get it now! This vegan-friendly coat is on sale at the Outnet.
What a super colour! Acne Studios’ wrap coat is crafted from soft and fuzzy robin’s egg blue alpaca and wool. Best of all, it comes in the hottest silhouette this season: loose, unstructured and belted. Perfect for work or weekends.
Dying. We are dying of beauty and lust for this gorgeously sustainable cape coat! It’s made from two natural materials: silk and alpaca. That’s it. Totally biodegradable. Looks and feels like fur, but of course you know by now that alpaca are never hurt when they’re sheared.
This black wool-blend coat by sustainable luxury pioneers Edun is entirely crafted with exposed seams for an undone elegance and features navy satin quilting at the chest and back. Enhance the lean length with a pair of over-the-knee vegan leather boots.
So far, our coats have been quite classic; leave it to Stella Jean to add some flavour! Inspired by the ritual decoration of the Himalayan yak, Stella Jean’s light camel-brown wool and alpaca-blend Salem jacket showcases multi-coloured pompoms and embroidered edges. The classic silhouette works beautifully atop the label’s signature patterned pencil skirts, or skinny jeans. It won’t keep your hands and arms too warm, but can’t you just imagine this number with a pair of really colourful 3/4 length vegan leather gloves?
Urban, Gothic, cool and versatile are but a few adjectives for this fabulously sustainable coat. The collar can be transformed into a hood, or thrown over the shoulder like a scarf. This wool coat is even suitable for some vegans, as it was actually made from dead stock wool melton from NYPD uniforms.
Bruno Pieters’ oversized coat is made out of hand-woven Harris Tweed wool. This coat has two side pockets and is completely finished with bias tape made out of organic cotton.
Sporty and ready for the weekends, this EcoAlf bomber jacket is completely constructed from recycled and waste materials. This rather androgynous jacket is part of the brilliant Master and Muse collection curated by model Amber Valletta for Yoox.
10. Shrimps Faux Fur
The hottest, fakest fake furs around, Shrimps is famous for their vibrant colours and colour blocks.
Inspired by the Japanese kimono, this coat has roomy sleeves, a narrow collar and convenient pockets, all made from alpaca coloured with eco-friendly vegetable dyes. As comfortable as a blanket, but elegant enough for important meetings.