My Top Tips For Investing In A Coat

Investing in a coat

When it comes to looking stylish, there’s a lot to be said for a good coat.

We’ve just spent most of October in France. And while the weather was quite warm when we first landed and during our time in the South, it has cooled down markedly now that we are heading for home. As the temperatures have fallen, every comment worthy outfit we’ve seen featured a fabulous coat. And this was true for both the women and the men!

If there was ever a wardrobe piece worth investing in, it would have to be the coat. When the chill starts to touch the air, coats are especially important for both travelling and for home.

Coats are always the first piece of clothing people will see – and sometimes they are the only thing you will be seen wearing.

While cropped leather jackets were definitely the go early in our trip, as things cooled down the following coats came into play:

  • Classic trench coats in dark colours. I saw the most stunning navy trench coat while we were in Bordeaux. It looked so lovely. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I was travelling with a carry-on sized bag only, I would have hunted one down and bought it immediately.
  • Puffer jackets (the slim ones that aren’t too puffy, if you know what I mean). I saw this style of coat regularly while we were in Annecy, often in paler colours like champagne and cream.
  • Longer line, relatively lightweight wool coats.  Black, grey, navy and camel – all the neutrals were in play both in France and in London. Small patterns also seemed popular in wool coats.

So, if you are going to make the investment into a new coat, what should be on the ‘must have’ list? Here are the top three things I look for when investing in a coat.

1. Comfort.

When it comes to coats, comfort might not be the first thing you think of, but it should be. You need to be comfortable in your outerwear – I promise you that you’ll never reach for the uncomfortable coat. Make sure that there is enough room in the top of the sleeve and through the waist to accommodate the clothes you will be wearing under your coat. Also consider the fastenings and the length and positioning of any belt that might adorn your coat. They might be little things but if the buttons are awkward or the belt is too short to look good then, again, that coat will be languishing in your wardrobe.

2. Quality.

When investing in a coat, you want to be confident that you are purchasing a quality item. And it pays to remember, that while a higher price can point to quality, it doesn’t always guarantee it. As a minimum, understand the fabric of the coat and how it can be cleaned. Remember to consider the lining – and whether or not it might shrink. Check the stitching and the seams – are they straight and generous? Are the buttons securely fastened?

3. Timelessness.

I’ve never for a second regretted investing in my black Burberry trench, or my much loved (read: somewhat battered) open fronted, cropped leather jacket. Both items have served me well for a number of years. They complement everything, adapt well from daytime to evening, dress up the simplest outfits and make travelling stylishly easy.  When looking to invest in a new coat, consider whether you’ll be happy to wear it for years.

Are you thinking of investing in a coat? Perhaps you’ve already done so. Or maybe you’d like some more advice on investment dressing in general? Regardless, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.

P.S. As an aside, on this trip I travelled with my beloved black leather jacket that I mentioned earlier in this post and this timeless number in the pale grey, which I found via a recommendation on Save. Spend. Splurge.

I’d been considering a wool coat for a very long time – ever since I’d travelled through a German winter with a very fashionable friend from London. I fell in love with her long, red woollen coat but, with the Australian climate being what it is, it had taken me a fair while to get around to investing in one. But even in a relatively warm climate like Melbourne, a wardrobe of coats doesn’t go astray. So far, I’ve been thrilled with this particular investment.

And Aussie investors should remember that the northern hemisphere sales will be coming to an internet retailer near you very soon. Due to the cooler climates in Europe, the U.K. and the U.S. they have a much wider range of coats to choose from, often at excellent prices, even after you deal with the exchange rate.

About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

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7 thoughts on “My Top Tips For Investing In A Coat

  • Taste of France

    Excellent points! Also:
    Try it on while wearing a bulky sweater to be sure it won’t be too tight (not comfortable nor attractive).
    Look at extremely high-end ones first to remind yourself of what good quality looks and feels like, especially for wool and linings.
    Consider vintage. The quality was so much higher back in the day, and if you find a style that works it’s proof it’s classic.

    • Janelle Post author

      Thank you for the great tips Catherine. Both are definitely worth considering. Vintage coats are more of a rarity where I come from but I imagine you could come across some gorgeous examples in your part of the world.

  • Our French Oasis

    A good winter coat is indeed a sound investment and also a very necessary one here, that and a scarf, I cannot imagine winter without a handful of trusty warm scarves, preferably cashmere or cashmere mix, they can accessorise any coat perfectly and they are so cosy next to one’s face when an icy wind is blowing!

    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks Susan. I certainly agree with your thoughts on scarves. I invested in a cashmere/wool blend one in Strasbourg last Christmas which I just adore. I wore it all through the Melbourne winter – not necessarily because it was cold but because I love how soft it is!

  • Alisa

    Absolutely! re looking at the best to know what you are looking for in terms of manufacture quality.
    Look especially at the length of the stitches (fewer stitches per inch = less durable), how the buttons are stitched on (is there a shank created from the thread to create a little bit of play between the button and the fabric? This oddly enough will also add to how the coat hangs, as there will be just that little bit of play when you are moving about), is the stitching around the button hole made from a slightly heavier thread, or at least even and attractive?
    Sleeves should generally be made in two pieces, the back of the collar should have an under piece between the collar and the body of the coat to make the collar lay well, and where there is a button there should also be a functioning buttonhole – lesser quality coats often stitch cuff buttons on with decorative button holes but there is no function.
    Also, it is important to sit down in the coat to see if it can be sat in comfortably without pulling.

    One thing i often do when buying anything that is generally well made of nice fabric – change out the buttons. This is an easy and inexpensive way to significantly upgrade a clothing item. On imported items, the labor is cheap, but the findings are more costly. So a well-made silk blouse might have plastic buttons…it is an easy matter to change them out for shell and the blouse is instantly upgraded.
    I bought a cheap trench coat in desperation once when traveling, and almost gave it away when I returned home – but decided to upgrade the buttons and have received many compliments!

    I definitely agree re the suggestion to buy vintage, especially for coats.

  • Amanda Bracewell

    Hi Janelle,
    I read this when you first posted it and now find myself going to Paris over December and January madly looking for a range of winter clothes to take. I am going to buy a pair of the Paige jeans you recommended and then found myself wondering about coats… I have a down filled parka which is ok for wandering but also wanted a stylish coat for the days when I might go to museums or watching the world go by on a cafe.. I have been looking at two tench coats a traditional Burberry made of garbadine or a Carla Zampatti London Trench … Will either of these be warm enough ? Your assistance with this would be very helpful… Perhaps you could post on what winter essentials would be ideal just as you did with what to wear in the air !!
    Love your posts ,

    • Janelle Post author

      Hi Amanda – thank you so much for your comment.
      December and January are fabulous months to visit Paris – I just know you will have an amazing time. Paris always sparkles, but especially over the Christmas period. Your down filled parka will certainly be perfect for strolling – and you’ll find they are worn in both casual and more dressy situations – so don’t discount how versatile your parka might be. With regard to the trench coats…I travelled during early December with my (relatively light) Burberry trench a few years ago thinking I’d be warm enough outside, as I’d deliberately planned to wear warmer clothes under it. While I didn’t feel the cold as we wandered the city, the trouble with this plan was the fact that the Parisians turn up the heat during the cooler months, and there were times when I was sweltering while in restaurants and museums.
      On the other occasions we’ve travelled to Paris during winter, I’ve travelled with heavier, more traditional winter coats. Wool is a great choice if the weather isn’t wet. Alternatively, if you can find a trench that feels very heavy, I think that could also work. I recommend looking on both American and UK websites for decent winter coats. You’ll find stylish coats designed for colder climates. The last 3 coats I’ve purchased have been via on-line options (brands: Lands End, Ted Baker and Donna Karan).
      Finally – thank you for your suggestion regarding a post on winter essentials. I’m always happiest when I’m addressing real life questions so stay tuned.