There are a few key pieces in any woman’s wardrobe that are what I call “no brainer investment pieces” — items that are worth the extra bit of money because they will be cherished and worn repeatedly for years to come. One of those pieces is the winter wool coat. A classic wool coat will stand the test of time in style and build. Here’s a quick and easy guide to purchasing the perfect wool coat:
1. Check the Fabric
City Grid Coat in Colorblock, $463.52 CAD, Madewell
When looking for that perfect wool coat, make sure it is predominantly made out of wool. Wool blends such as wool/nylon or wool/cashmere are both okay, as both blends will usually retain its shape quite well. The material to watch out is polyester. Being a synthetic fiber, polyester does not breathe well nor provide much warmth or last longer than a season or two. Wool coats usually have a little bit of polyester in the blend, but opt for no more than 20% of polyester in the garment’s construction. Invest a little more in a piece that will hold up over a longer period of time.
2. Check the Seams and Stitching
Madewell Emery Car Coat, $305.24 CAD, Nordstrom
A telltale sign of good craftsmanship is in the seam, hem, and edge stitching. Because cheaper goods are usually made extremely quickly with an emphasis on speed, quality really suffers. With cheaper coats, the emphasis is on stamping out massive quantities of the same piece, so there’s little to no time spent on the perfect cross stitch. Cross stitches better enforce the garment, ensuring threads don’t come loose. Always gauge the quality of any piece of clothing to see how the seams look when you give them a gentle tug. If a few gentle tugs produce loose threads or visible seam gaps, then keep searching. Another way to check for quality is to look at the quality of stitching – look for consistent, straight stitching made of thick thread.
3. Look For a Built-In Belt
Babie Maxi Length Belted Flat Wool Coat in Camel, $750 CAD, Mackage
Since wool coats are usually thick and meant to be worn over sweaters, it takes no time to start adding bulk. Recent trends featuring waterfall necklines add a fair amount of extra fabric at the neck, adding even more volume up top. The key is finding a wool coat with a built-in belt to cinch you in at the waist, providing some much welcomed definition to your silhouette.
4. It’s All in the Details
Dale-SP Long Black Wool Coat with Leather Sleeves, $730 CAD, Mackage
A classic wool coat should stand the test of time, which usually means simple and streamlined. However, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice cool modern details for a boring wool coat. In order to bridge the gap, find a coat with a classic shape, in a staple colour, and balance it out with modern detailing. Little things like zippers, buttons, and leather additions really help to up the ante but are still good for longevity when the coat has a classic shape.
5. Double-Breasted with Lapels
Cahndisse Coat, $589 CAD, Club Monaco
Caivia Coat, $695 CAD, Club Monaco
Another trick to finding the perfect winter wool coat that will stay stylish for 10+ years is to look for the very classic double-breasted silhouette. This silhouette will go with everything in your closet, without fail. It looks professional, chic, and is guaranteed to pull together any outfit in two seconds flat. There’s a good reason why most wool coats are offered in this silhouette.