Coating it cosy: Embrace the comfort and style of winter fashion

Jul 02, 2024
Source: Tilly Smith Dix

Living near Melbourne where winter coats are mandatory to stave off the winter chill, warms the cockles of my fashion heart. I remember my visits to London in winter, usually followed by a trip to Europe, turning into a shopping fest as I’d arrive in time for those wonderful Christmas sales! Of course, it was summer back home…

I’d travel with a half-empty suitcase to ensure there would be room for one or two new coats. My excuse? My birthday was on the way… (said with chuckles and a wink). When it comes to improving our wardrobe, do we really need an excuse…

Meeting with members of the luxury travel media in London and Europe back then, proved an additional treat as I was enamoured with the stylish winter fashion, especially coats, worn by the women and men in cities such as London, Milan, Paris, Florence, and Vienna.

The UK team would tell me it was customary to acquire at least one good coat in the latest style every winter. I adored the chic Milanese, where one of the glamorous fashion editors was adamant about every woman needing to acquire more than one new coat every winter. After all, we don’t want to be seen in the same coat day in and day out, and what do we wear whilst one of our favourite coats is at the dry cleaners? Being a winter and autumn gal, this resonated with me.

A minimalist I’m not, but if you are, I’d suggest investing in two woollen coats for longevity. Obviously black should be carved in slate, whilst no woman, according to my darling late mother, is complete without a sensible, timelessly elegant camel coat, which complements any colour.

Amusing story, years ago I employed a stylish assistant in my then special features media division. However, she became highly offended when our fashion topic for a winter feature was the longevity of the camel coat – for men and women.

She was a vegetarian and announced she would not be writing about coats made from camels! Astounded, I realised she’d always believed a camel coat was produced from camel skin! Our fashion photographer had to make a quick bathroom call as he said he almost wet his Levi’s, during which time I calmly enlightened our new assistant editor.

Before deciding on which coat to acquire during the myriad current winter specials to pick and choose from, look at your capsule outfits. Which colours do you wear most in winter? Which hues are flattering and make you feel gorgeous in that first layer before the outer garments are added.

Got a generous budget and hankering after more unusual colours to add to your timeless black or camel coats? Have no fear about unusual colours going out of style. There is no need to religiously follow the colours that are currently on trend, neither should we stress about pastel or bright hues being sent to the coat graveyard when fashion colours change the following year. We don’t need to follow the pack. In the mood to stand out and be different? Own it!

A dear friend recently asked me if I thought buying a new coat in lavender would be advisable as the colour would surely no longer be in style next winter. I had made a mental note of the colours she favoured, winter and summer as these shades complemented her complexion. I responded, promptly, for her to be brave and buy that coat as I guaranteed she’d be wearing that colour for many years to come.

When she walked into the restaurant for our customary weekly catch-up lunch, everyone looked at her as she had smashed the look, standing out above the rest, and she is only five foot and a bit.

Our Australian designers are tops, in my eyes, when it comes to winter coat designs. Whilst we don’t always need the fully lined item, given our winters are not that icy, I like that many of the local designs are half lined, which is ideal. If you enjoy wearing snug knitwear, an unlined coat suffices.

Years ago, coat styles seemed specific. We would wear either a fitted coat or a bigger coat, depending on the current fashion style. Now, I see big coats, fitted coats, belted coats, midi coats, shorter pea coats, so anything goes. In the end, we wear what we love.

If we are wearing clothes with a generous cut, strategize by wearing a coat with generous proportions over it as a tight-fitting coat over a bulky knit does nothing for our silhouette. Thus, it also seems ideal to wear a more fitted coat over a snug-fitting ensemble. Again, I’d challenge this as I favour the bigger coats, they tend to drape more loosely over a slim-fitting ensemble, which makes one feel ever so svelte.

Current colour choices range from light to dark tan, brown, black, purple, hues of red, and pastel shades. I’ve put together a selection of my coat stash, hunter-gathered over many years, with some current options too. Styling a coat is easy and it’s amazing what a difference the right scarf choices will make when putting that warming top layer to work.

Every day is special, so, wearing our best now should be our style narrative. Saving that cashmere coat only for special occasions? Haul it out, wear it over jeans, pants, a fabulous outfit, whatever the occasion. Even when we are being casual, we should embrace nonchalant chic. It does wonders for our self-esteem and elevates our dopamine levels. We’ve got this!

L-R 1-4: (1) The current popular colour, brown or raisin, works with any combination, and I’ve styled this coat with black and a pop of berry in the boots; (2) Light camel never dates and here I’ve styled the coat with monochromic oatmeal shades; (3) This winter-white cashmere coat has a generous cut and will remain top of the pile. I’ve styled it with navy denim and wool. The scarf is old too, and the colours are ideal for styling multiple coat colours; (4) Here I’ve styled a soft grey coat over winter white, spot that plaid scarf again to pull the outfit together. Source: Tilly Smith Dix
L-R 5-7: (5) Here’s the same grey coat and plaid scarf, this time styled with a caramel colour knit and winter white pants; (6) Elevating the monochrome oatmeal outfit with a desert rose colour coat and faux fur hat to make a statement; (7) The soft grey coat worn with a matching hat to add presence to the monochrome oatmeal basic ensemble. Source: Tilly Smith Dix
L-R 8-10: (8) The short black pea coat over winter white never disappoints; (9) This soft pink coat, paired with winter white pants and a striped grey and pink light knit sweetens the winter chill; (10) A black coat would work equally well with this layered black, white, and lavender look, but I decided this old herringbone woollen coat would look cosy. Source: Tilly Smith Dix

Except for the soft woollen coat in raisin (picture 1), all these coats are old and mostly from Australian brands, including Country Road.

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