When shopping for a winter coat there are elements to consider, pun intended. The climate, your comfort, body shape, tastes and budget should all play a role in your coat selection. and Both the outer and inner layers of your chosen coat are important for keeping you warm. The outer layer shields you against wind, rain and snow while the inner layer insulates you. As I describe coat types below I will outline important points to keep in mind concerning the inner and outer layers that keep you warm.
pictures courtesy of (l) to (r):  Maison Martin Margiela via Vogue Germany, Jil Sander coat via Lush, Luxe & Lovely, +J by Jil Sander for UNIQLO, Alexander Wang coat via Marie Claire, Kurt Geiger


  • TYPES. 100, 200 and 300 weight, and Wind Proof. 100 and 200 are most breathable. 200 weight is the most used fleece. It can be used as a layer just beneath the outer layer or in moderate temperatures it may be used as outerwear. 300 weight should be used when warmth is more important to you than breathability and weight and can be worn as an outerlayer. WindProof is the least breathable because there's a protective wind proof layer within the fleece. Windproof fleece can be worn as an outerwear.
  • ANTI-PILL. If you can, purchase anti-pill fleece because who wants unsightly pills all over their clothing? TIP on how to remove pills HERE.
  • WATER PROOF. Fleece holds up decently in wet conditions as the material wicks moisture away, but obviously is not adequate protection during downpours.
  • COST. Washing machine and dryer safe--inexpensive to maintain the look and feel of this garment.

  • LINING. For warmth it is incredibly important to get a lined wool coat.
  • TAILORING. Wool coats tend to add bulk and have stiff, boxy shapes; there are exceptions of course, but I encourage trying on any coat, especially one made of wool, before purchase.
  • WATER PROOF. Fleece holds up decently in wet conditions as the material wicks moisture away, but carry an umbrella.
  • COST. Cashmere wool coats tend to be most expensive. Also wool coats require dry cleaning which can make them expensive to maintain.

  • FILL POWER. Down coats are rated by fill power. The range is typically 500 to 850; the higher the fill power the better. Fill power is a measure of "loft" or fluffiness. The higher the number, the more loft using fewer feathers. The more loft the more warmth, and the fewer the feathers the lighter in weight the coat. For good quality buy coats with fill power of 600+.
  • SEAMS. The more stitching the more weak spots in the coat because there are no feathers in the seams. Also, the smaller the areas created by the seams the less warmth because the feathers have less room to loft. (If you skipped ahead read FILL POWER above.) Some coats circumvent that issue by building an extra inner layer of protection referred to as baffle. It's an extra layer of feathers that line the inside of the coat (covered with lining). TIP: Products like Seam Grip act as sealants against wind and water when applied to coat seams (apply to inside of coat only!!!).
  • DOWN PROOF. It's hard to determine if your coat is made out of down proof fabric, but you want material that will effectively prevent feathers from escaping the coat, and secondly shield you from wind.
  • WATER PROOF. Sometimes you can find a coat made with a waterproof shell. However, generally, down coats do not perform well under wet conditions, and slow to dry once exposed. Luckily they are washer and dryer safe. TIP: Place your coat in the dryer with tennis balls to re-fluff it. 
  • COST. The higher the fill power, the extra insulating layer all cost more. I find that the more attractive coats that show real semblance to the feminine form are usually more expensive. Inexpensive to clean.

  • WARMTH. Super warm. Should be lined.
  • WATER PROOF. If treated, leather coats can be stand up against precipitation. However, I do not recommend excessive exposure to rain or snow. Be sure to condition your coat after exposure to moisture; how to HERE.
  • COST. Expensive maintenance- send to specialized leather cleaner, but if you have to clean minimal soils then you can follow the instructions I give for leather gloves HERE (at your own risk). Always spot check for discoloration in an inconspicuous area on your leather garment before cleaning or treating it yourself.

  • QUALITY. Good quality coats state from where the fur originated. The best furs come from Europe and North America. Generally, the less the leather content the higher the coat quality--ask how much leather was used in the coat. Always check coat seams for proper stitching both lining and underside of the fur. There should be an opening in the lining where you can check the underside of the fur. Undyed furs are usually higher in quality than dyed. I recommend consulting a furrier to bone up on what to know about furs and price compare before making any purchase.
  • WATER PROOF. Shearlings can be worn in rain and snow, however, I would not recommend exposing them to moisture. Furs are NOT water proof. Allow wet shearling/fur to air dry AWAY from heat.
  • COST. Expensive maintenance-during the winter you should store your fur in a climate controlled storage vault, but if storing at home keep it in a cool, well-ventilated, roomy space away from natural or artificial light. Have a specialist clean any long hair and/or furs light in color once per year, and all others every couple years to maintain color and prolong life of the coat. Repair any damages immediately. Avoid using any chemicals, even perfume, near your coat.
  • MY TWO CENTS. Go faux or stay warm in the comforts of your home. I can't claim that I don't indulge in animal skins because I own a leather jacket and several shoes and bags, which I've considered giving up and likely will one day with more worthwhile options being produced every day. I think fur is excessive; don't tar and feather me. (See what I did there? Excessive.)

  • Can I move my arms freely?
  • Are the sleeves long enough?
  • Do I have enough room to wear a heavy sweater underneath?
  • Does this color suit my complexion?
  • Does this coat flatter my body?
  • Detachable hood with discreet fastenings? (Optional, but I'm a fan of them for extra warmth and protection.)

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