It’s been hammered into us that August is the best time of year to buy a new winter coat. After all, that’s when the new collections first hit the shops, a few months after the autumn/winter shows debuted what would be hot. Yet waiting until January might make more sense, when you pack away your sparkles and our winter weather properly sets in, as it is doing this week, with minus temperatures forecast across the UK.
“January is when the chill really starts to bite, so investing in a coat that you can wear around the clock is essential,” says Libby Page, market director at Net-a-Porter. “Khaite, Nour Hammour, and Wardrobe NYC offer some of our favourite styles this season; a leather coat, cashmere wrap coat or oversized bomber are all great for throwing on over lounge pants and a sweater, or dress them up with tailored pants and boots for the office.”
Lisa Illis, the head of design at Marks & Spencer, has certainly seen an increase in shoppers looking for coats this month: “Searches for ‘Women’s Coats’ are currently the ninth most searched category online, and after such a rainy festive period, our wet weather offering has been particularly popular,” she notes.
Of course, there are also plenty of bargains to be had in the sales at this time of year too, but it is essential to choose a style that transcends trends in order to ensure it’s a wise investment. Luckily the catwalks were full of such pieces, with the high street also reporting an uptick in customers buying timeless designs. “This season, we’ve seen the return of the smart coat,” says Queralt Ferrer, design director of fashion at John Lewis. “For example, our Anyday double-breasted style (£68) has been a sellout.”
So, if you’re still in need of a new winter coat, read on for the five coat styles to try now (and stay warm forever)...
A smart, tailored, black coat is always going to be a sensible investment and the shops are full of them. It’s important to choose something with a sharp silhouette: whether that’s single-breasted, long-line and ankle-skimming, or something slightly more oversized and boxy, with structured shoulders. You’ll thank yourself later if you invest in 100 percent wool, too. Be sure to take good care of it and you can wear it again and again, whatever the occasion – we recommend getting it dry-cleaned once per season for longevity – and to avoid pesky moths (they hate clean clothes).
You can’t go wrong with a trench coat. Eternally flattering, as well as practical, they’re perfect to take you from balmier winter days to the beginnings of spring. “On the spring/summer 2024 runways we saw great transitional trench coats everywhere and we have seen so many designers for pre-autumn/winter 2024 focus on modernising heritage icon styles of the house,” says Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear at Matches.
“Every wardrobe should include at least one brilliant trench coat. Versatile and essential for travel, they are lightweight, packable and easy to style up or down, for warmer or cooler weather.” A surprising trend for 2024 is the return of the leather trench – but park any associations with The Matrix, these are more relaxed and less severe than the 1990s iteration. In buttery-soft leather and butterscotch hues, these are a great option for chillier weather.
Clea Cotton gabardine trench coat, £695, Matches Fashion
Call it the Succession effect, but ‘quiet luxury’ is going nowhere. The movement’s hero item? A camel-hued coat, of course, preferably from Tôteme (à la Jennifer Lawrence) but just as tempting from mid-priced brands like Sezane and Reiss. Whether oversized and slouchy or tailored and belted, there’s something so undeniably chic about this particular hue that almost any style works. The only thing to be aware of is that it can show up dirt fairly quickly if you let it, so it’s best to avoid wearing it for a traipse through the countryside or in the torrential rain in London.
Wool coat, £350, Sezane
Wool coat, £348, Reiss
Wool coat, £435, Rouje
There’s nothing quite as cosseting – or indeed, glamorous – as a textured coat. Conjuring up images of Old Hollywood style icons like Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins and Sophia Loren, as well as Seventies fashionistas like Anita Pallenberg, Marianne Faithful and Jane Birkin, it’s a timeless look. Of course, in 2024, it’s vital that you buy faux or vintage – and if you’re worried about going for a full-on teddy-bear style, then instead opt for a design with faux fur flourishes, like an oversized collar and matching cuffs, which is just as chic.
No longer just the preserve of shooting weekends in the country, a check coat – whether that be houndstooth, dogstooth or tartan – is a wardrobe staple. “The dogtooth print has proven popular with customers,” John Lewis’s Ferrer shares.
“It’s a good choice for those after a patterned style that can be worn in multiple ways.” While autumnal tones of brown have longevity, there’s something fun about the more recent pink and blue iterations, which modernise the look for 2024.