Like many New Englanders, I have an arsenal of coats hanging in my closet ready to battle whatever temperatures or situations the winter brings. There is no shame in having a closet stuffed full of coats. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean we don’t need options for self-expression. When picking a coat, however, consider function as well as fashion. Sure, you want to look cool. But, to survive winter in the Upper Valley, warmth and function must also be considered.A few years ago, I made the mistake of picking out a Burberry parka while shopping in DC. It looked great in the store. I loved how lightweight it was and how the belted waist showed off my curves. I thought I had finally found the Holy Grail of winter coats. This coat was warm, practical, and stylish. I hinted to my parents that it would be a great Christmas present. Imagine my joy when I opened it on Christmas morning! Eagerly, I tried it on, only to discover that it was uncomfortably tight over my sweater. Oh well, I thought, I just won’t wear it with anything bulky. Unfortunately, without the ability to layer, I was freezing and ended up giving the coat to my sister who lives in DC. I picked out the perfect winter coat for Washington, DC, a city that shuts down over a couple of inches of snow!
Consider your lifestyle when buying your everyday coat. Don’t buy a North Face parka if you wear suits to work, or a wool pea coat if you spend a lot of time outdoors. Match the style to your life. Color should also be considered. There is no rule that says all coats have to be black, and color can be a great way to brighten up a gloomy winter day!
Sometimes it can be confusing to choose which coat to wear when. Here is a cheat sheet of coats and where they are appropriate:
Insulated or Fleece Jackets:
These are the most casual coats in our winter arsenal, and usually pretty light weight. Wear them on their own throughout the fall and early winter and then turn them into a layer as the temperatures begin to drop below freezing. A good insulated jacket is also perfect for winter sports like cross-country skiing and skating.
The classic choice for everyday life, a parka can get you to and from work and is durable enough for everyday wear. Parkas are waterproof and insulated so it’s no big deal if you get stuck in a snowstorm. They are different from jackets in that they cover your hips. When you try them on, make sure you can sit comfortably.
Wool or Wool Blend Coats:
Wool coats are dressier than Parka’s and tend to be the least bulky option (and therefore the most flattering). They are also the least likely to keep you warm, but still a worthy investment if you dress up.
Fur and Shearling Coats:
Love it or hate it, fur is one of the warmest coats you can buy and my personal choice for winter. I love how glamorous I feel wearing a fur coat, not to mention toasty warm. Fur is fragile, especially vintage fur, and is not durable enough for everyday wear. I learned this the hard way last winter. So this winter I invested in a shearling jacket, which still feels cozy and soft, but is more stable for running around in everyday life.
My advice: figure out which coat suits your lifestyle best and make the investment. The Upper Valley is filled with stores selling coats, so shop around until you find the one you like best. I personally would recommend checking out Indigo in Hanover for your investment coat. They have a huge selection of Canada Goose and Patagonia Parkas that will keep you warm and stylish all winter. Be prepared to spend: their coats range from $150-$750, but are well worth the money.
Maybe you already have a parka and are looking for something a little more fun to add to your collection, but you don’t want to break the bank. In that case come on down to Revolution and check out our awesome selection of winter coats, which start around $59 for quality second hand coziness.
Though the weather outside is going to be frightful, you can still be delightful in the right coat! Happy Shopping!