redcoatA great coat, like a fabulous handbag or stunning shoes, can pull your look together in a moment. Use it to make an entrance, to disguise the liabilities or to make an impactful style statement. It is so much more than a cloak for warmth!

If you have been gliding through the early part of winter either coatless, or wearing the same old, same old, brace yourself because two things are coming, the dead of winter and the coat markdowns.

Yes, you have waited just long enough. The markdown season is upon us. And based on the levels of inventory that I am seeing in every store, including full size runs in mid December, either the coat buyers had very deep pockets or the consumers had their pockets closed.

So, I would say it is a coat buyers market. Now is the time to tackle the downstairs hall closet that is brimming with outdated, long, short, puffy, woolly dog walking coats. This is the one closet that no one ever thinks about. The one that is more overstuffed than your martini olives!

It is time to take inventory ladies, because you really don’t need a coat for every pair of shoes! Let’s talk about either downsizing or building a coat inventory. At least one of each of the following types of coats should be in your closet so you can be well dressed and ready to face the elements.

We’ll start with a day coat, preferably knee length, depending on your frame. Think of this as a go-to, grab and run out the door coat. Wool melton is a good choice as it is a hard working, long lasting fabric.

Then there is the essential raincoat which I went into detail about in my previous post, “Everything you need to know about buying a trench.” Opt for something classic, the simpler the trench the longer it will be in style. Styling details like wide lapels, fashion colors and padded shoulders will limit the life of your trench.

Then of course you will need a cold weather coat, with your location potentially dictating even a puffer coat. Buyer beware, puffy coats add volume, so opt for an unpadded version if you don’t want to add extra poundage.

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Then perhaps an evening coat which is usually worn longer so it covers your dresses. If you are thinking fur, limit the fur to the trim. You will get a lot more wear out of the coat and there is less of a chance that that coat will have to be passed down through the generations.

And lastly a weekender, also known as the workhorse, something that is perfect for running errands but still looking stylish. This could be jacket length, unless you are someone who is always cold and then you could opt for a longer length. Consider what you are layering it over. On trend now are asymmetrical tops, but remember a trend is only in style as long as it is a trend, so don’t go crazy on the length because next year short tops might be on trend!

As you gaze, or dig, into your closet, pull all of your coats out and put them by categories. If you find that you have too many of one category, then obviously the mall coat-drive is waiting for your generosity. Every city has coat collections at all levels including shopping malls, local stores, dry cleaners and even your neighborhood nonprofits collect coats for the needy. Pile them up and make your holiday donation. Your unwanted coats will make many safe and warm this season.

If you found gaps in your coat inventory, the let’s get to work filling those in. As you probably already know if you are a frequent reader, I want you to shop with purpose, not just by price! Trust me, great price points will be everywhere, so let’s be selective. Remember to shop for the best you can afford, as the cost-per-wear will quickly calculate down stylishly.

When shopping for your coats consider these key variables:

  • Decide which category of coat you are in the market for and shop accordingly. You will not be able to wear one coat for all your occasions, so don’t set the bar too high in your search, but one coat can certainly fit many occasions and oftentimes you may be able to wear a great coat over your office-wear as well as your jeans with just a swap of a scarf or a belt.
  • A great coat makes a serious style statement. It can make or break your look. Perhaps what you are wearing underneath is less than stellar, but popping on a fabulous coat makes it all stunning. Vice versa, if you are donning some magnificent dress for the opera and you either tell your husband to drop you off at the door so you don’t have to wear a coat or you pop on a bathrobe looking schmatta – truth be told, you just ruined the entrance.
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    A good coat must deliver warmth, style and versatility. The coat enters the building first, it is seen as you commute, it’s even seen on the coat rack. As a major purchase it is best that you work on your strategy long before you head for the mall. I am a firm believer in perusing online. As I have said before Google has a great set of eyes. You can shop by fabric, length, style and budget from the comfort of home before embarking on a mall trip.

  • Consider the fabric as that affects the shape, with stiff fabrics equaling a stiff look. Always opt for quality fabrics that will lengthen the life of the coat and withstand the elements. Opt for matt fabrics so as not to add unnecessary bulk to the coat. Fabric technology today offers women so many options to feel warm, look smashing and still fit in the seatbelt.
  • Pay attention to the styling as sometimes less is more. If you opt for lots of bells and whistles, it may quickly become dated. The most versatile coat for all figures is a narrow, figure sliming 3/4 length coat. The taller you are the longer your coat should be. Looking to enhance your waistline? Opt for a belted coat to give you the hourglass proportion.
  • Consider your routine. Are you a city commuter spending lots of time out in the elements or are you driving to work? A beefy city coat might just be a bit too confining if you are behind the steering wheel two hours a day. Are you a traveler who has to stuff your coat in an overhead bin?
  • Think about what you are wearing underneath your coat. Are you topping it over a suit jacket? If so be sure you are wearing a suit jacket when you purchase it so that you know the two items work well together through the shoulders.
  • The shape must be in proportion to your frame because you don’t want the coat to be wearing you. Make sure it is contoured so you don’t look like you are wearing your brothers’ barn coat! Watch the proportion of the lapels, decide whether it will be single or double breasted, belted or no belt, hooded or no hood, buttons or zippers, pocket or no pockets. All of these styling details are your choice. That’s why I encourage you to shop online in advance because that way you won’t just grab the first big red, double breasted, belted coat with epaulettes because it is marked down and you think it was just waiting there for you!
  • Think about what color not only works for you, but also works with the rest of your wardrobe. As much as you might be attracted to a big red coat, if that is the only coat you don for four months straight, you may become known as the woman in the big red coat!

Doreen Dove empowers women to use style as a tool to take strategic control of their image. She is an image consultant, personal stylist, professional speaker and author. Her extensive background in all aspects of retail has uniquely qualified her to work with women of all ages and professions, coaching them to personal style success.

Book a complimentary Boost Your Image Breakthrough Session with me. We’ll chat about shopping with purpose. Then we’ll move on to your closet, your image and whatever else comes up! I look forward to ‘meeting’ you on the phone!

Need your own style guide? My newly published book is now available.

Confidence Is Always In Style

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