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The one item you need to look expensive in winter – on any budget

capes
capes
capes
Nicole Ari Parker and Kristin Davis on location for 'And Just Like That' in New York City, 2023 - Gotham/GC Images

You may be bored of hearing the terms ‘stealth wealth’ and ‘quiet luxury’ (on Planet Fashion they’re as passé as skinny jeans), but the actual appeal of the sleek, expensive-looking clothing they describe is going nowhere. Of course it isn’t – who doesn’t want to look expensive?

For advocates of this aesthetic, a drapey, capey coat, ideally with a matching or built-in scarf for maximum minimalism, is the centrepiece of a good winter wardrobe. It should be (or look like) double-faced wool or cashmere, most likely in a deliciously understated shade like greige or espresso, though this is negotiable. The weirder it looks on the hanger (see the Cos cape below), the better it’ll look on you.

capes
capes

Wool rich coat, £250, Jaeger; Wool blend cape, £125, Cos

There is no barrier to entry with this look. If you can wear a coat and scarf, you can wear a coat and scarf that match. You may not have the funds for the acres-of-leather Phoebe Philo trench version (price on application, naturally), or the Toteme blanket-stitch style (£810) that retailers can barely keep in stock – these will never go on sale – but there are plenty on the high street for a fraction of the price.

Maitrepierre
Maitrepierre Womenswear Fall/Winter 2023- 2024 - Getty

Mint Velvet, a dark horse of the high street, has both long and short iterations of this look for less than £250. Massimo Dutti, meanwhile, always succeeds in creating pieces that appear pricier than the tag.

It’s a good time to get in on the look, too – if you’re quick you might even be able to buy yours in the sale and still get some wear out of it before spring. Then pack it away with as many moth-prevention measures as you can muster, so you can wear it next winter and for plenty more winters to come.

cape
Bamford

If a new coat is out of the question, just buy a scarf that matches one of your existing coats. The scarf doesn’t even need to match the coat perfectly; get something that’s close enough and call it a ‘tonal look’. Just remember, the more structure to the scarf the better, and drape it over the top of your outerwear, not underneath. That’s your upscale look complete – whatever your budget.

Shop the look

capes
capes

Coat with asymmetric scarf, £59.99, Zara; Wool blend cape style coat, £479, Maje; Gold button cape, £119, Massimo Dutti

Calcaterra Fall/Winter 2023/2024
Calcaterra Fall/Winter 2023/2024 - Getty
Karlie Kloss in tonal red while in Paris, 2023
Karlie Kloss in tonal red while in Paris, 2023
coats
coats

Wool blend jacket, £125, Abercrombie & Fitch; Longline scarf coat, £249, Mint Velvet

Actress Leighton Meester films on set for Gossip Girl in 2010
Actress Leighton Meester on the set for TV series Gossip Girl in 2010 - Getty
Reformation
Reformation

Wool blend jacket, £348, Reformation

Karen Gillan wears a dark cape in New York, 2023
Karen Gillan wears a dark cape in New York, 2023 - Gotham/GC Images
Sezane
Sezane
Eudon Choi Ready to Wear Fall/Winter 2023-2024
Eudon Choi Ready to Wear Fall/Winter 2023-2024 - Getty

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