How to turn a coat into an outfit | Women’s coats and jackets

You don’t just need a coat, this winter; you need a coatfit. Social distancing has prolonged al fresco season into unseasonable temperatures, so long as outdoors is pretty much the only place you can see the people you don’t live with. Now and then it is quite nice to have a conversation with someone whose laundry you didn’t wash that afternoon, I find. Just for a change of pace. In the season of early closing and six-people-max tables, outdoors is where it’s happening, so your “party season look” this year needs to be full-coverage and fully lined. It’s a coat.

A coatfit is a coat that’s also an outfit. It needs to be a look, not just a layer. You need to be able to feel a bit glam in it, like you could be sitting on a garden bench under fairy lights having a gossip. As a litmus test, try this: can you picture yourself holding a wine glass, in this coat?

But the coatfit, confusingly, is categorically not the same thing as an evening coat, or a party coat, or whatever you call those flimsy decorative top layers that pay lip service to warmth while you totter from the kerb to the doorstep, at which point you disrobe and display your proper outfit. Capes that you can’t move your arms in, knitted coats that are basically fancy cardigans, sleeveless trench coats. They are hopeless here. I’m not judging – I own all three of those items – but they are not real coats. A coatfit needs to keep you warm.

Whether your coat hunt is in the shops or in the box you drag out from under the bed, disregard anything lightweight and anything more than an inch or two above the knee. Wool rather than quilted nylon, and buttons rather than a zip, wouldn’t you say? And you want a neckline that you can make a bit fancy. Too deep a V in the front is no good, or you will freeze, but a huge funnel neck that covers your chin will be tricky with aforementioned glass of wine. Add a blouse with a silk neck tie now. In a month’s time you’ll need a thick roll-neck in a jazzy colour and a major earring. And perhaps a mulled wine. ’Tis the season of the look-great outdoors.

• Jess wears check overcoat, £109.90, Uniqlo X JW Anderson, uniqlo.com. Pussy-bow blouse, £49.99, zara.com. Ankle boots, £190, dunelondon.com. Trousers, Jess’ own.


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