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Choosing the right coat

What will you put on EVERY day the WHOLE winter?

Yep. Your coat.  Easy to see, then, why we dream of getting a new one, year in year out. But how do you choose the RIGHT ONE? How do you know if it will be your faithful ally even on those coldest of days?

Before anything else, it must have THE main quality of a winter coat: it has to be WARM. Problem is, most of the coats we come across in the stores these days aren’t.

In fact, they’re what are commonly called transitional coats. I’ve renamed them, no insult intended, “car coats.” They’re just perfect for making the transition between your home, your car and the office. Especially if your car is in the garage…

So….how can you know if your coat is going to be warm?

First of all, it’s got to be lined.

Lining is usually made from acetate. It’s a soft material, shiny and pretty heavy.  The main advantages of acetate are that it absorbs moisture and dries quickly.  For your inside layer it does the trick.

Next, it has to be made mostly of wool. Read the labels and look for 50% or more.

Even if it’s fashionable, choosing something too long is no good. It’ll flatten out your figure, while dragging in the slush when you lace up your little one’s boots or pick up the phone you’ve just dropped on the sidewalk.

You should know that you lose 80% of your heat from your upper body. So instead of dwelling on the length of your coat, focus on the collar. Is it open, jacket style? Or does it have a high neck, zipped to the top?

Does it have a hood? In addition to being practical in bad weather, a hood lets you keep your head warm. Definitely something to consider if you’re waiting for the bus every morning.

That’s why my best advice when it comes to keeping warm is still my mother’s. I can still hear her shouting until she was hoarse: “Put on your hat!!!”

And your hat doesn’t have to look like it came out of some fur trader’s wardrobe…  It’s just there to keep your body heat inside. Felt numbers with a wide brim are particularly in fashion this year. I’ve seen them everywhere! Tristan, H&M and Simons have them at very affordable prices. So there’s no excuse…

And now for some figure-related advice:

If you’re petite: Ideally, you should choose a size small coat because the seams at chest and waist levels will be in the right place. Now, of course, what’s available in small isn’t the same and the choice is less than stellar. Nothing working for you? Go for something that stops above the knee, and forget about the fancy trim or big patterns. But for goodness sake, have your sleeves shortened. If they’re too long, it defeats the whole purpose…

If you’ve got a full bustline: Avoid anything, uh, double-breasted. It will only make you look bigger up there.  Look for something with a V-neck and a belt, which will have a slimming effect.

If you’ve got wide hips: A classic A-line coat, belted at the waist and flared at the bottom will give you the room you need to be comfortable, while flattering your bottom.

Do you like unique details? Go for it! But make sure that what stands out (epaulettes, inserts, studs, fur, lace) is sewn on the upper part of the coat. This will draw attention to your shoulders and balance out your figure.

If you’ve got broad shoulders: You’re going to be spoiled by this year’s fashions. A nice roomy raglan sleeve coat (with the seams on the arms rather than the shoulders) will narrow things out and give you more freedom of movement in the “start your engines” position. And nice big hip pockets are perfect for your figure and — you bet — very useful.

So there! Bring on winter! It’ll just be an excuse to debut your new purchase.

P.S.: Did you buy a cape this fall? Wear it over your winter coat. It’ll add a layer of warmth and style…

P.S. 2: Of course, those wonderful high performance down coats at Atmosphere are a cut above wool coats when it comes to warmth.   So is my mother’s sheepskin coat.  But that’s for another post…

 

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Marie-Claude Pichette
Stylist and blogger, Les Promenades Gatineau

Fashion. Lifestyle. Novelties.

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