Thursday, October 07, 2010

A ranting guide to finding the perfect winter coat.

I have lived in Alberta, Canada for almost 25 years, and suffered through winter after never-ending winter. I do believe I’ve toughened up over the years and can now endure the below zero temperatures, my parched, pale skin and the frizzy, flying mess that my hair becomes. But deep down in the most loathing, hatred-filled depths of my fashionista soul, there is one thing I will always despise about winter. The limited fashion.

From October - March my bright, light, summer wardrobe of flirty dresses, sassy open-toe heels and breezy tops are replaced with the uniform of Alberta winters. One, heavy, winter coat, a pair of over-priced boots and a scowl. That’s it. That’s what I have to work with everyday when I’m out and about in the world.

When I think back to the good, the bad and the absolutely horrific winter coats I’ve had (bubble jackets, anyone?!?!) I note a constant in what was functional and what was flattering. I have a few essential rules to finding the perfect winter coat, and I’m passing them onto you. Good luck to my fellow winter sisters out there on your search for a warm, trendy and fabulous jacket this season.

The Rules:

1. Length.
A winter coat should hit you mid-thigh, or right at the knee. Any longer than that, and you’ll look like you’re about four feet tall and drowning. If you desperately want a long coat, go all the way. There’s nothing that drives me crazier than a jacket that ends right above the ankles. It’s terribly outdated and unflattering. If you want long, make it a ground sweeping, luxurious coat. And ensure you wear it with heels.

2. Fit.
OK, this is another thing that drives me nuts. Please make sure your coat is not too big! Too often I see women schlepping down the street in what could be a fabulous coat, but it’s hanging off their shoulders and boxy at their waist. The rule is this: the shoulder seam should match up with the edge of your shoulder.

3. Belt it.
The waist should be exceptionally fitted, and if not, needs a belt. A belt is a great way to cinch in your waist and advertise your beautiful silhouette. And don’t be afraid to replace the belt on your coat. Maybe you have a unique, vintage belt that would look better than the one it came with. This is a great way to add your personal flair, or completely change the look of the coat from day to day.

4. Colour.
I highly recommend going with a solid-coloured coat. You can find lots of fun, patterned jackets, but it’s best to put most of your cash into a one-colour piece that will last longer than one season. Pattern trends come and go extremely fast, so what’s in this year, may be out the next. Also, a one colour coat gives you more options with accessories and less chance of clash.

5. Make sure it’s WARM!
I know this seems obvious, but it’s easy to get caught up in the trends of the season and all of a sudden you’re unpacking your thrilling new purchase at home and realize it’s as thin as Mary Kate and has three-quarter-length sleeves… oops. If you’re living in a winter climate go by this: Put the coat on in the store, and if you’re not sweating in about five minutes like Oprah in a hot flash, it’s probably not warm enough.

I’d love to know your tips too! Feel free to comment below with tips on purchasing winter wear!

All coats featured above are from


  1. Excellent writing! Yup...I agree that the winter jacket should be neutral in colour. It is really easy to snazz it up or down with scarves or other accessories.

    Also...snowboard jackets should be left on the hill...

  2. I need pockets! I lose my mittens if I don't have somewhere to stash them unless, of course, they have a cord attaching them.

    Also, buttons must be sewn on securely and zippers zipping properly. I can't tell you how many lovely coats of mine have lost buttons or I've had to get the zipper repaired. Zippers need to be zipping when it's -30.


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