How to pick the perfect winter coat

How to pick the perfect winter coat

Author: Canadian Living


How to pick the perfect winter coat

We all know it: Winter in Canada can be harsh, and long. Lucky for us, fashion throughout the fall and winter is exciting—full of boots, scarfs, hats and cushy coats. As we approach another Canadian winter, why not rejoice in the changing of the seasons? If you're looking for a new winter coat this year, check out our tips from former Canadian Living style editor as she reveals how to find the best coat for your life. How do you find the perfect coat to suit your lifestyle?
Karen Kwinter: There are many factors that come into play when selecting a winter coat. First, ask yourself: Will this be your only coat or will you be able to have more than one? The next most important question to ask is what function the coat will fulfill: are you looking for a career coat or a casual one? The next question is what level of warmth will be necessary? When getting around, do you drive, walk, take public transportation? The final question to ask yourself is what colours and styles do you generally prefer?

Once you’ve identified the answers to these questions, it’s easier to narrow your choices down and start the search for the perfect winter coat. Is there a particular style that works really well for everything from daywear (play dates with the kids for example) to an evening out?

KK: I think it’s unrealistic to imagine having more than two or maximum three coats in a person’s wardrobe. The best outerwear to buy is something that can be very versatile. It's best to determine your wardrobe needs first and go from there. Ideally, every wardrobe should have an outerwear jacket and a knee-length coat. Jackets work best when you are looking for something to wear on casual occasions, while coats often look more appropriate when a dressier look is required. A big concern during long, cold winters is how to find a coat that’s really warm. Should women buy two coats? One that’s down-filled, one that’s wool?
KK: The warmest coat you can find is down-filled. The best-case scenario is to have one wool/cloth coat and one down/polyester-filled coat in your closet.

Page 1 of 2 What are the trends in fall/winter coats this year?
KK: This year is all about colour. You'll be seeing more colour in outerwear than you've seen in years past. Berry tones, blues and greens dominate. Key neutrals include grey, black and cream. Brown and camel are also making a comeback.

Knee-length cloth coats are very important this season, with lots of classic military detailing like epaulets and double-breasted button styles. Solid wool meltons or textured tweeds are both great options. Also new and noteworthy (and really great as well for beating the cold) are high face-framing architectural collars. All the cloth styles mentioned usually also come in waist or 3/4 length jackets, but these are not really warm enough if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors in really cold weather.

On the flip side are polyester- or down-filled coats and jackets (sometimes called "puffers"). These have recently been enjoying a real resurgence in popularity and are now, thanks to new techno advancements; the look is now slimmer and more flattering than ever before. No more Michelin Man silhouettes! These are available in a wonderful range of colours including neutrals, rich vibrant jewel tones and stand-out-in-a-crowd metallics. What are the top things to consider when purchasing a coat?
Quality is important when purchasing a coat. A coat purchase is a major one and you will be wearing it over a long time frame. If possible, extend yourself a little with your budget as good quality will pay off in the end. Lining should be thick but not bulky. Length choice should be reflective of end use, what you will be wearing it with and length of real time you spend outdoors. Any must-have accessories for winter coats this year?
Yes! Long coloured leather gloves in a coordinating shade or a complete contrast colour to your coat are hot. A wonderful knit toque is also a great look this year as is a dramatic long knit scarf. Bright-coloured accessories are the perfect way to help an older neutral coat look more on trend this year. Sleek knee-high boots are always a stylish touch with any coat.

Shopping tips
Before hitting the shops, Kwinter offers up these final tips for helping you find the coat that’s just right for your body type.

If you’re tall
Tall bodies can handle almost any silhouette. Make sure that the knee-length coat is not too short and hits just at the top of your knees.

If you’re plus-sized / have wide hips
Tailored, straight lines are flattering. Stay away from wide-belted silhouettes and full skirts. Three-quarter length jackets are better than short jackets that tend to chop the body in half.

If you’re short
If you’re short, follow the same advice given for plus sizes. Also, ensure that the coat hits right at the top of your knee; a coat that’s too long can be overwhelming.

If you have a large bust you want to minimize
Stay away from puffy, short jackets that accentuate the upper torso and baby doll empire styles that add volume from the bust down.

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Natalie Bahadur is a regular contributor to and the editor of


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How to pick the perfect winter coat