(Photo by Printeboek on Pixabay)
Being a little on the thin side because of my Crohn’s Disease, I really feel the cold. I revel in big jumpers, fluffy socks and slipper boots at this time of year. Big Snuggly, my black and white fluffy jumper, had an outing this week, so it’s officially Cold. When my North Face jacket (good down to -30C) is unearthed, that’s when it’s Really Cold. I am well prepared for cold weather, and I have no issue with looking like a walking clothes yeti in the name of being warm.
This willingness to dress up like an Arctic explorer has, even as far back as my teenage years, often got me some Looks from people who don’t realise that for some of us, it’s more important to be warm than fashionable. Of course it’s up to them, but I’d rather look a little silly than be shivering with cold on a station platform.
When it’s Elsa-on-a-bad-day levels of chill outside, you need something to keep you properly warm. Winter coats on the high street tend to be more about fashion than function, and after having owned a string of cheaper ones that weren’t remotely warm, I gave up and bought my North Face coat, which is basically a puffa jacket intended for skiing or hiking in cold weather. It’s cosy, but it’s not that stylish.
I’m not slating every winter coat out there – there are some, particularly at the higher-end high street stores that are good (warm and stylish, a rare combination), and worth investing in because they’re wool, lined properly and will last for a few years.
So what should you be looking for when you’re buying a winter coat?
It should be warm
This sounds silly, and totally obvious, but it’s actually surprising how often people forget this. Remember that you’re trying on the coat in a heated changing room in a heated shop. You won’t get a true feel for how warm the coat is until you wear it outside on a cold day. Keep the coat on in the changing room for a while, and if you start to get uncomfortably warm, then that’s a good sign. Wool coats are the warmest, although they’re expensive, but if you’re after an investment coat that will last you a good few years, then get one of those. They’re worth the money.
Check the lining
Most of the cheaper high street winter coats have satin linings, which aren’t that warm. If your budget can stretch to it, consider one with a sheepskin lining, or even a quilted lining. Both of these will add warmth to the coat.
Don’t write off the hiking shops
They may be viewed as ‘nerdy’, but hiking shops will often have really good coats in them. Sure, they’ve got the proper hiking jackets for those of us that enjoy walking in the middle of nowhere, but shops like Cotswold, Snow & Rock or Mountain Warehouse (for those of you in the UK) will often have coats or jackets that are quite fashionable as well. As an added bonus, hiking shops sell tons of really warm socks.
Check out your outlet shops
£400 coat for under £200? Yes thank you. This was us getting a great deal at a Jaeger outlet store a few years ago – we ended up with a very warm, properly lined wool coat that would otherwise have been way out of our budget. It’s worth scoping out the outlet shops (make the trip to Bicester Village, UK residents, you never know what you might find) because you may just be able to get that perfect high-end coat for a more reasonable price.
Make sure you can layer underneath it
In other words, buy something that fits properly – again, obvious, but people often don’t because they ‘must’ have something, and having the thing is more important than fit – or, even, if it suits them. If it doesn’t fit properly, don’t buy it. A coat should be something you can put on easily over what you’ve chosen to wear that day, which, if you’re an office worker, will probably be layers in the winter because of the never-ending Office Thermostat Wars (you know what I mean). Take along or wear a typical indoor winter outfit when you’re buying the coat. You need to know that something you may be spending upwards of £200 on will perform exactly as you want it to. And the usual ‘does it fit?’ rules apply – does it gap where it shouldn’t, can you sit down in it, can you move your arms okay in it?
How will you be staying warm this winter, readers? I’ll be wearing a combination of Big Snuggly and my North Face jacket if this weather gets any worse. Stay warm, everyone!