I’ve been talking about coats for the last week or so purely because I lost my beloved wool aubergine coat from Zara’s Premium Brand. I only bought it about a year and a half ago. It was the perfect length, and the colouring complimented my skin tone. The earthy hue gave a nod to autumn winter, but it was an unusual colour in my corporate environment. Most people on my commute into London have a black, navy, camel or grey coat. In case you haven’t noticed from my power posing on Instagram I’ve become comfortable being a bit different. So, aubergine was perfect for me.
I have this weird fascination with coats because getting a new coat was such a treat for me when I was younger. My maiden name means ‘God with the tall’ so I had no choice but to get to my height of 5 foot 8 inches by 16 years old, and that didn’t make getting clothing for me very easy. I had one shot at getting a new coat every one, sometimes two years so I put a lot of thought into getting one.
This would mean I would spend hours looking over catalogues in our living room, contemplating what I would get while hoping the coat I want would be in the summer sale. What coat would keep me warm as I walk to school? Which one would be long enough for my growing body and if I buy the bigger size would it still look alright if I rolled up the sleeves until I grew into it?
Who knew that experience would set me up to be a personal stylist for female leaders, women who want to present themselves as effective, polished and ready for any challenge like I did then, even when I didn’t have the resources to do so? Life has a funny way of using our difficulties as the tools to catapult us into our greatness.
When looking for a new coat I take a few things into consideration.
My body shape, as it is now. Not the body shape I would like to have when I stop eating gluten or the body shape I had when I was a new graduate out of university. By the way, I was that skinny because I was that broke, nothing to do with healthy eating habits!
Take myself for example, I have broad shoulders, a yummy mummy tummy (5 years later smh), I’m tall and I have long arms. My main measurements mean that I’m bigger at the bottom, but I have broad shoulders to accommodate. My preference is for long winter coats as they keep me warmer, and the extra length can balance out my proportions as my legs pretty much dwarf the rest of my body, even though I have a relatively long torso. So, I get coats that hit at or just below my knees so that I don’t look like I’m playing dress up as Neo in the Matrix.
I also like coats that have a wide lapel as my broad shoulders are great real estate to show of the coat without looking overwhelming. I love an oversized fit as the arm length is usually perfect for me, but I have a few pairs of arm length gloves for the chiller months, to keep extra warm.
I appreciate a coat that wraps around me rather than buttons up, so that if I decide to wear layers I don’t feel like a stuffed sausage in my coat and they are usually more flattering around my mid-section.
Will this coat keep me warm?
Secondly, I check what the clothing is made from. I’ve found natural fibres more insulating i.e. Wool meaning I can wear a coat that keeps me warm without wearing outer wear that is too bulky. Wool is still breathable, so you shouldn’t get that funny smell when you break out in a sweat on your commute to work. Coats like these have lasted me for over 5 years and I still get complements, that’s if I don’t misplace them…
Find a drycleaner convenient for you (either close to work or home) and build a relationship with them. Ask if they are willing to provide a discount for continued service. You’ll need it to keep your coat clean and in good condition and to change lining etc. You’d be surprised what a few new buttons, or a bright lining can do to make you fall in love with an item you’ve had in your wardrobe for years.
Keep in mind your practical needs
Thirdly I buy coats that work for my practical needs. For example, I need a pocket large enough to hold my purse. If I do buy into a trend, I buy into trends that are somewhat cyclical i.e. animal prints or houndstooth is ‘new’ this season but not really, it’s a classic textiles pattern, my mum used to wear it a lot in the 80’s!
If you’re not sure what body shape you have, subscribe to my blog and I will send you tips on how to figure out your shape. There’s no need to use a measuring tape so you don’t have to worry about having the skills of a seamstress.
Let me know below if you find this helpful, let me know if you use any of the tips to buy your next coat.