Is it big coat weather yet? It is, and these are the best on the High Street

Alpaca wool coat, £335, at Jaeger.Alpaca wool coat, £335, at Jaeger.
Alpaca wool coat, £335, at Jaeger.
As the icy cold blows in and the long, cold winter begins, it's time to invest in the perfect coat. Stephanie Smith has advice plus what to buy now.

Winter does not officially begin until December 1, not according to the UK meteorological calendar, anyway. But Yorkshire is quite clearly paying not the slightest degree of attention, and has decided to bring us winter this very week, without further delay.

This is not good news for those of us who so far this year have been duped by the glorious long hot summer into forgetting all about the cold and grim realities of a Yorkshire winter, and so have not yet invested in a proper winter coat – as in a big coat, one that covers and protects most of the body, chin to knees (at least) from penetrating icy winds and chills.

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Now is definitely the time to make that investment and, fortunately for us short-sighted laggers, there are plenty of options out and about on the High Street right now.

Padded down and feather coat, £99; trousers, £35; shoes, £35. M&S Collection at Marks & Spencer.Padded down and feather coat, £99; trousers, £35; shoes, £35. M&S Collection at Marks & Spencer.
Padded down and feather coat, £99; trousers, £35; shoes, £35. M&S Collection at Marks & Spencer.

When it comes to properly warm coats, there are a few different style options on offer, depending on how you want to present yourself to the world when you step outside your front door. It’s worth bearing in mind that we frequently recognise people by their outerwear, certainly our acquaintances and those familiar faces we might see regularly, at the school gates, driving through town, shopping on the High Street and travelling to work. That’s more than enough reason to make sure we have top-layer clothing that suits us and presents us favourably. A well-made, well-fitting, versatile coat is the best way to do this, so it pays to do your research and try on as many as possible before choosing “the one”. If, like me, your wardrobe contains a fair few rash decision coats, it’s best to sit down and make a list of what your coat is for, where you will be wearing it and what you want it to be able to do. Will you want to layer sweaters or even a jacket (tailored or fleece) or a lightly padded, hooded gilet under it? If weather conditions become as Arctic as the forecasts for Yorkshire are predicting, then you probably will want to layer, so head out to the High Street wearing whatever, typically, you would wear under a coat on a very cold day.

It’s often not the girth that’s the problem, but the area around the top of the coat sleeves that becomes constricted and uncomfortable when knits and jackets are worn under, and that really needs to be checked out. Go up a size if necessary – you’ll be glad of it on a bitterly cold day, when you’re layered up with thermals and knits.

Long padded coats are looking especially sleek and chic this autumn/winter. Witness the two featured here, which are in store and online now. Both the Studio by Preen for Debenhams red leopard coat and the Marks & Spencer Collection sheeny diamond quilted coat are impressive examples of how luxe-looking padded coats have become, plus they have the benefit of being lighter than their wool tailored equivalents. The Marks & Spencer one is padded with feather and down and has a detachable hood, fleece-lined pockets and M&S’s Stormwear finish to repel water. At £99 and with its undeniably high-end designer look, it’s a perfect example of how Marks & Spencer can still pull it off brilliantly, combining form and function with value. Meanwhile, the Debenhams one ticks all the trend boxes and looks AW18 epic, ready for the weekend or the red carpet.

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Faux fur and teddy bear fur coats can be glamorous, or perhaps best considered fun, for this season, but the long faix suede taupe biker coat here from Zara is a real keeper.

Studio by Preen leopard print longline puffer coat, £99, at Debenhams.Studio by Preen leopard print longline puffer coat, £99, at Debenhams.
Studio by Preen leopard print longline puffer coat, £99, at Debenhams.

There are plenty of classic coats also on the High Street. If you are dithering or confused, always remember that you simply cannot go wrong if you invest in a beautifully tailored wool or wool/alpaca coat. Red and forest green are in vogue, but a luxurious cream, taupe or camel will make a cosy and elegant style statement for many freezing winters to come.

There’s more fashion and beauty here