I’ve been getting a lot of questions about coats, and there are a lot of great sales going on right now, so today I’ve got my 2020 Outerwear Guide!
Most women need a few different types of coats, especially if you live in an areas with defined seasons. Plus, if you’re interested in building a stylish wardrobe — and if you’re reading this, I assume you are — it’s important to have a variety coats to suit different purposes and occasions.
Coats can be a bit of an investment, but if you choose wisely, they will last you a very long time. With all that in mind, I rounded up the top 10 types of coats and jackets you may want to have in your wardrobe.
This is not a 10 Coats You Need post… although that’s certainly a catchy title and tempting to use!
Truthfully, not every woman needs every single one of these coats. It all depends on your lifestyle, how much you travel, and the area of the country in which you live.
But these 10 coat styles will help you build a versatile outerwear wardrobe to suit any occasion.
10 Coats & Jackets For a Complete Outerwear Wardrobe
#1. denim jacket
It will surprise no one that I consider a denim jacket an essential part of any stylish wardrobe. I wear mine all year ’round, but most often in the fall and spring.
My favorite way to wear a denim jacket is over a tee or lightweight sweater with white or black jeans or olive cargo pants, but I also wear it to level up my joggers and to top off my casual dresses.
A more oversized fit is trending right now in denim jackets, but I generally prefer a more classic trucker style. Bonus points if it has structure through the waist area for a flattering fit.
My personal favorite is the Vince Camuto that I’m wearing in both of the photos above, but there are lots of good options out there at a variety of price points.
#2. utility jacket or field jacket
A utility jacket is similar to a denim jacket in that you generally wear it with more casual looks, and it’s particularly nice to have if you wear a lot of jeans. A field jacket is similar, but a little more rugged.
Utility jackets became very popular a few years ago, but it’s also a classic jacket that doesn’t ever go out of style.
The longer utility jackets with heavy collars don’t do much for me, so I opted for the one pictured above. I really like the shorter, more feminine styling.
I also splurged on the Rails Collins utility jacket in this subtle cheetah print when it went on sale last spring, and I’ve been enjoying that a lot this fall.
Which brings me to a point I want to make… With any of the coats in this list, don’t feel like you have to stick to the traditional styles.
It’s far more chic to wear styles that look best on you and suit your lifestyle (that goes for any wardrobe item, not just coats.) So feel free to find a variation that suits your personal style and body type if the original doesn’t work for you.
#3. leather jacket
A leather or suede moto jacket is my favorite completer piece for a fall or winter outfit, but you don’t have to go with a moto here. Leather jackets come in lots of different styles to suit your preference.
This is such a great way to take your favorite pullover sweater and jeans from everyday errands to date night chic, but it also looks great with sneakers, or even layered over a dress.
Black leather is the most traditional, but if black isn’t your thing, or you’re looking to add another color to your wardrobe, there are tons of other colors available nowadays.
I love my BlankNYC taupe suede moto. It’s turned out to be incredibly versatile, and it’s not as harsh as black.
And I just picked up the AllSaints Dalby in this oxblood color when it went on sale, and I’m in totally smitten. Even on sale, it was a splurge, but I’m confident the cost per wear will turn out to be very low over time.
A fitted jacket like this is so flattering and chic. It really has a way of elevating so many looks, and it’s a nice way to add warmth without a bulky coat.
#4. trench coat
Every list of must-have coats includes a trench coat, so far be it for me to contradict this tried and true advice. I don’t wear mine very often, but I wouldn’t want to be without it.
A trench is super chic with business attire, or jeans and heels, but it’s also a great way to create that enviable effortless French style with jeans and sneakers.
Traditionally, trench coats are double breasted with a belt and epaulettes, like the one Caroline is wearing below.
She very much wanted a classic trench so she hunted the internet until she found this one to fit her budget at Nordstrom Rack. She actually wears it quite a bit, believe it or not!
That isn’t the most flattering silhouette for me, so I picked up the one pictured above at LOFT a few years ago.
Again, don’t feel like you have to stick to the traditional styles. Make fashion work for you, not the other way around.
#5. casual rain jacket
When a trench coat seems a little much, but you need rain protection on a mild spring or fall day, it’s nice to have a casual rain jacket or anorak to grab out of your closet.
I always feel a little “extra” in a traditional trench, so I picked up this midi trench by The North Face a few years ago, and I find myself reaching for it lot in the fall and spring! If it’s raining and not cold enough for a puffer, this is usually what I put on.
I appreciate that it has a hood, so I don’t have to futz with an umbrella, and it has a really flattering shape, but the shorter length feels more casual and comfortable to me.
If your personal style tends to be more casual/sporty, there are tons of options in that area as well.
COAT STYLING TIP:
Let’s stop right here and discuss a little “rule” when it comes to pairing coats with your outfits.
As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t wear a casual coat with a dressier outfit. You can, however, wear a dressier coat with a more casual outfit.
It’s tempting, because they’re so expensive, or because you may not feel like it’s really part of your outfit, to have one go-to winter coat and wear it with ev-er-y-thing. (The same can be said for a fall jacket.) Typically this would be a casual quilted jacket or puffer coat.
But please don’t put your puffer coat on over your business attire or cocktail dress or sassy date night outfit. This is the time for a trench coat, or a wool car coat, or a faux fur jacket.
It’s easy to think, It doesn’t matter, I’ll take it off at the door… But your coat is the first thing people see, and it is totally a part of your outfit. Yes, even if you’re going to take it off and check it at the door.
On the other hand, feel free to wear a wool statement coat or classic trench with your jeans and sneakers or even yoga pants. That creates some of that cool juxtaposition and is a chic way to elevate a casual look.
This is why it’s important to have a few different outerwear options in your wardrobe.
Okay, back to the list…
#6. quilted jacket
A quilted jacket is probably my most worn coat during fall and winter because it’s so versatile for casual looks.
It rarely gets so cold enough around here that I need a long puffer, although I do have one, and it comes in handy from time to time.
But a good quality quilted jacket is lightweight and comfortable, and you can layer it up to accommodate most temperatures. I do this when I want to pack light and only bring one coat on a trip.
#7. parka or puffer coat
Puffer coats are a classic, but they’re also very much on trend right now. They come in all different lengths and colors, and they’re best athleisure/sporty looks.
Parkas serve the same purpose. Basically, this is your heaviest everyday casual coat for the coldest weather.
I picked up this fur hooded puffer a few years back at Lord & Taylor, and I really like the flattering shape and the longer length. It’s what I would call a mid-weight parka.
If you live in a cold climate, you may need a full-length, heavy duty parka for the coldest days. Canada Goose and Mackage make the most iconic versions of this very popular style of casual coat, but you can get good quality for a lot less.
Right now, the oversized style is on trend. Think The Amazon Coat.
But there are all sorts of shapes and lengths and colors available these days to suit your personal style.
#8. classic wool blend overcoat
When a parka or puffer is too casual, that’s usually a good time to break out a wool overcoat. Camel, black, grey, and winter white are the most classic colors, but these days, there are a lot of fun plaid and stripe options.
There are sooo many styles and shapes and lengths available in this type of coat, but this year the cocoon style is very much on trend.
Also light neutrals and subtle plaids, such as this plaid-printed tweed coat.
A classic wool coat is the perfect topper for business casual looks and church dresses, but you can also wear one to level up your jeans or even joggers and sneakers.
#9. teddy coat or faux fur jacket
Teddy coats are a big trend right now, and of course fur (or faux fur) jackets are a classic.
Faux fur is a great way to dress up a casual outfit for date night, or to top off a cocktail dress, whereas teddy coats lean a little more casual, and you will often see them in lighter colors.
Solid colors and animal prints are both trending this year, and they come in both shorter jacket lengths and full-length coats.
10. fleece or sherpa
I wasn’t sure if I should put the teddy coat with the furs or the fleeces, but I consider a fleece or sherpa to be on the more casual end of the spectrum.
These are perfect with athleisure or sporty casual looks.
bonus consideration: a shacket
A shacket is the latest trend to hit the streets — it’s heavier than a shirt, and lighter than a jacket, and they’re on the oversized side, so easy to layer over bulky sweaters and wear longer into fall.
It looks enough like a wardrobe piece to keep on if you’re chilly dining outside, but it adds a great deal of warmth and style to a casual look.
I do not have one yet, but I’m feeling the peer pressure, y’all! How about you? Have you tried the shacket yet??? It’s definitely a more rugged look than I typically go for.
I hope this list is helpful! Here in the Philadelphia suburbs, we get all the seasons, and they have a way of overlapping, so we definitely need a variety of outerwear.
Your list of must-have coats may be different, depending on where you live, but hopefully this gives you a starting point.
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