My Favorite Winter Coats for Every Occasion

I used to be one of those people who had a grand total of two or three coats — one dressy and one casual, and maybe something in between.

But as I’ve been working on building a more complete and workable wardrobe over the past few years, I’ve learned that having more outerwear options makes for more sophisticated outfits.

If you think about it, your outerwear is often the only thing people see when you’re out and about. It doesn’t make sense to have 20 sweaters and only 2 winter coats. It really should be the other way around.

Each year I’ve been adding one or two carefully selected coats to my closet, and I’m in a good place right now with a good assortment of quality coats to cover just about any occasion. I thought I’d round them up here and talk about how and when I wear them.

If you ever go out and feel like you don’t have quite the right thing to top off your outfit, maybe one of these will fill that hole in your closet.

My Favorite Casual Winter Coats

For casual wear, I usually wear some type of quilted jacket or down parka. Here in Pennsylvania, we get a lot of messy weather, so it’s important to have a coat that can hold up to wet and sometimes snowy conditions.

The North Face Metropolis Water Repellent Down Parka

at Nordstrom (M) // at Bloomingdale’s (M) // at Zappos (M)

coat (M) // turtleneck (S) // MOTHER denim (29) // UGG boots (8.5)

The North Face Metropolis Parka is the coat I reach for on the coldest winter days. It has 550-fill-power down filling with a fuzzy brushed-tricot collar facing that keeps warm and comfortable, even without a scarf.

It also has hidden side-zip pockets, plus a convenient interior zip-welt pocket for stashing valuables if you don’t want to carry a purse.

The hood is removable, and the back elastic waist keeps it from looking too bulky and shapeless, but the best part is, it’s super warm and cozy. This coat runs true to size for The North Face; I have the medium, for reference.

Bernardo Bundle Up Hooded Puffer Jacket

at Nordstrom (M)

jacket (M) // sweater (S) // scarf // PAIGE denim (29) // Blondo boots (8)

I recently added this Bernardo hooded puffer jacket in Pewter Grey to my winter coat wardrobe. So many of my coats are black, and since metallics are trending this season, I thought it might be fun to have this option in my coat closet.

Plus, I wear The North Face one so much, I decided I needed something similar in a different color to switch up my casual looks.

Bernardo is a Canadian company, so they know how to make a warm coat. Their lightweight EcoPlume™ recycled-polyester insulation is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, for those who like to purchase from more sustainable brands, and the shell is water-resistant.

Bernardo jacket // Sanctuary sweater

This coat is a versatile mid-thigh length, and I like how the quilted pattern defines the waist. It has an attached hood, which is convenient in inclement weather, and the zip-front closure also has snaps for extra wind protection.

Burberry Short Finsbridge Quilted Coat

discontinued; on eBay (similar option)

Burberry Finsbridge Coats // Naadam sweaters // Liverpool jeans // Sorel boots

For casual days, when I don’t need the long down parka, I usually opt for one of my shorter quilted jackets. Even though it was discontinued a few years ago, I would be remiss if I didn’t include this Burberry jacket in a roundup of my favorite winter coats.

It was a big splurge for me back in 2016, but I stalked it until it went on sale, and the cost per wear is mere pennies at this point. It is by far my most-worn winter coat, and it still looks new.

Burberry jacket // Jenni Kayne sweater (S) (option) // MOTHER denim (29) // UGG boots (8) // rag & bone sunnies

I’m glad I went for the black because it’s the color I personally reach for the most, and at that price point, I wanted to ensure a good cost per wear. But this is also a category where it’s fun to add a color or two to your coat wardrobe.

Barbour Shaw Lightweight Puffer Jacket

discontinued; on eBay (similar option // The North Face option)

Barbour jacket (option) 6 // Vuori wide leg pants (M) // On Cloud sneakers

This Barbour puffer jacket was an #NSale purchase last year… or maybe the year before that? They’re all starting to run together!

It’s simliar to The North Face ThermoBall Eco Jacket in terms of warmth and style, but I especially love the channel quilting on this one, and I think this lilac color is so pretty and unexpected for wintertime. I wear it a lot more than I thought I would.

I also love that it has a hood. I’m not a big fan of umbrellas, so I often use the hood on my coats.

Helly Hansen Lisburn Waterproof Insulated Raincoat

at Nordstrom (M)

Helly Hensen Lisburn (M) // Treasure & Bond sweater (S) // AG Jeans (29) // Steve Madden boots (8) // Madewell bucket bag // necklace

I picked up this insulated rain coat last fall, and I love that pretty berry color. It’s so bright and cheerful on those dreary winter days.

This isn’t as warm as the quilted parkas, but it does have insulation so it’s warmer than a traditional raincoat. It’s a good one for those of you with milder winters.

Shop Parkas & Quilted Jackets:

My Favorite Wool Coats for Winter 2024

When I want to elevate my look but not feel too fussy, I usually reach for a wool blend coat. The nice thing about wool coats is you can wear them with both dressy and casual outfits, whereas you generally don’t want to wear a parka or puffer jacket with dressier looks.

Lauren Ralph Lauren Wool Blend Reefer Coat

at Nordstrom (4)

Reefer Coat (size 4) // AG Farrah // Everlane scarf // Vince sweater (S) // VEJA Esplar (39)

This wool blend reefer is a classic that has been around for years, and it’s still available in multiple colors. I really like the single breasted style on this one.

FIT TIP: Double breasted coats, or coats with large lapels tend to add visual weight and look bulky on those of us with a larger chest and/or broader shoulders. The single breasted style with slim lapels is perfect for me, but you may find you like a wrap coat or something with more drama.

Also, this classic style is sleek and easy to wear with dressy or casual outfits. I’ve told the story many times about how I was once caught going to a formal event without a proper coat. This is the one I purchased to remedy that situation.

It can work for casual wear, as well, making it a highly versatile option to have in your coat wardrobe. In fact, if I was told I could only have two winter coats, I’d keep a black wool blend coat like this one and a puffer jacket.

Andrew Marc Regine Pressed Bouclé Wool Coat

at Saks OFF 5TH (S)

Andrew Marc coat (S) // Nordstrom sweater  (S) // MOTHER Hustler (29) // Sam Edelman boots (8) // similar scarf // similar bag

This coat is very similar to the Ralph Lauren Reefer, but it has some extra details that I really like.

I purchased it for a campaign with Saks OFF 5TH last winter, and I ended up keeping it even though I didn’t really need it because it’s so comfortable and versatile.

Andrew Marc coat (S) // Vince sweater (S) // Joe’s Jeans (29) // Vince booties (8)

The black wool reefer is a size 4, which fit perfectly when I bought it, but these days I could really use the 6.

This Andrew Marc coat is far more comfortable on me at the moment, plus I love the bouclé texture and the button tab cuffs, so it quickly became my go-to wool coat.

I obviously don’t need two long black wool blend coats, but I haven’t wanted to part with the Reefer coat, so I’m keeping both for now.

J.Crew Daphne Topcoat

at J.Crew (6)

J.Crew Daphne (6) // Vince sweater (S) (option) // PAIGE denim (29) (option) // Sam Edelman boots (8) // Frame belt (M) // Jenny Bird earrings

I’ve been looking for a long camel coat for the past few seasons, and this year, I finally added this J.Crew topcoat to my winter coat wardrobe. I’ve been wearing it a lot more than I thought I would! As it turns out, black isn’t the only versatile color for a coat.

Again, I like the sleek, minimalistic design and contrasting buttons with the single button closure. It’s just so easy to throw on with casual or dressy looks.

You can see how I styled it above with flares and dressy boots, and then below with sneakers and light wash straight ankle jeans. I like it both ways, so I decided to share both!

J.Crew Daphne Boiled Wool Topcoat (6) // Jenni Kayne sweater (option) (S) // MOTHER denim (29) (option) // LØCI sneakers (8) // rag & bone belt (M) //  similar bag

J.Crew Cocoon Coat

at J.Crew (6)

J.Crew Cocoon Coat (size 6) // Burberry scarf // similar Blondo boots

It’s also nice to have a shorter wool blend coat, and I’m a huge fan of the cocoon style for more casual, but elevated outfits.

The J.Crew cocoon coat is another classic that has been around for ages, and I love this shade of grey. I don’t wear it as much as I used to, now that longer coats are trending, but it’s a really nice option to have.

Shop Wool Coats:

My Favorite Special Occasion Coats

A special occasion coat is the style most easy neglect, and I get that. You may not wear it very often, but special occasions are when your coat really can make or break your outfit.

Because I don’t wear them as often, I don’t like to spend a lot on this type of coat, but it’s nice to have one or two dressy jackets for special occasions, and even to jazz up a more casual date night outfit.

Sanctuary Going Out Faux Fur Jacket

at Bloomingdale’s (S) // at Revolve (S)

Sanctuary faux fur coat (S) // Vince sweater (S) // Paige denim (29) // Blondo Sadie boots (8)

I love a faux fur jacket with both dressy and casual looks, and I usually have at least one in my winter coat closet.

The Sanctuary Going Out Faux Fur that I’m wearing above is a nice option because it’s a simple style, and the zipper is warmer than the ones with a futzy fastener (several of my faux furs have been difficult to fasten.)

I also still have the Bernardo Chevron Faux Fur Jacket shown below, but it sold out, and I found myself not reaching for it this year because I like the shorter length of the Sanctuary one.

Bernardo Chevron Faux Fur Jacket (S)

Longer styles are trending this year, and I love the look, so I splurged on this Vince faux shearling coat, but I’ve yet to wear it because it just feels very “extra” for the life I lead and the places I go. I love it, though, and it just went on sale, if you’ve been eyeing it!

Vince faux shearling coat (S) // MOTHER Hustler (29) // Vince boots (8) (more sizes)

The shorter jackets are more versatile, and don’t make me feel quite so conspicuous, so I find myself wearing them more. I haven’t decided yet whether I am keeping or returning this long shearling coat yet.

Eliza J. Faux Fur Capelet

at Bloomingdale’s (S)

Eliza J. capelet (S) // Norma Kamali dress (M) (more sizes) // Sam Edelman Kia in Gold (8) // Loeffler Randall bag // earrings // J.Crew necklace

This faux fur capelet is definitely a more formal look, but it does come in handy from time to time. I also lend it out to friends to help reduce the cost per wear.

I’ve had mine for so may years, I’ve lost count, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that several retailers still carry it!

It’s definitely not a necessity, by any stretch, but there have been a few times when it was the perfect solution to an outfit I was wearing, and I was so happy to have it.

Vegan Leather Cropped Puffer

at Abercrombie // at Gap

Abercrombie Vegan Leather Mini Puffer (alt. Gap Big Puff Cropped Jacket)

Finally, for more casual dinners out and just any time I want to level up a casual outfit, I reach for this faux leather puffer. A sherpa or teddy coat can also work well for this purpose. It’s just a fun, edgy touch to top off your look!

Shop Special Occasion Jackets for Winter:

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photos: Alison Cornell

Join The Conversation

0 Responses

  1. Jo-Lynne,
    Tell me about the quality of the Burberry scarf you have with the JCrew Cocoon Coat. I have looked at it online several times and have yet to purchase it due to the price. Reviews are good but I’m still trying to decide on cost per wear. I have the JCrew Coat and will keep it in my closet for years to come. Also have another grey coat as well as a black and a red one (which may not hang around much longer), this scarf would be my completer piece but I’m still struggling with cost. I don’t mind spending the money if the quality is good. I wear scarves with my sweaters some without coats so I would wear in early winter before actual coat season. Just can’t decide, and yes I could order and then send back but that is a hassle as well.

  2. I live in Canada so we can never have too many coats! My family is always bringing that to my attention. I guess I take up most of the closet these days but weather can be just about anything especially this time of year!
    I would like to add a color puffer for a change from the standard black without spending a lot! I know I would reach for the black the most! I bought a puffer vest this year in conifer green and now I’d love to find a puffer coat in that same color!

  3. After reading this post, I realize that I should add a nice long wool blend coat to my closet. Thanks for sharing great options with us and for showing us how versatile most coats can be.

  4. Love this – it really is important to have a variety – for “real winter” coats (like below 50 degrees) I currently have two long wool coats, a shorter wool coat, a Barbour parka and a faux fur. I’d like to get another slightly lighter casual parka, my Barbour is too heavy for this recent weather we’ve been having.

  5. This is the perfect time to thank you for the Andrew Marc recommendation, I tried it during a sale and it’s still a great price!! I love it!! It fits my 5’2 self perfectly. I always want to try the wrap coats, but I look ridiculous in them, so this year I tried the colorful long coats from Loft too and was so impressed. The green color is so fun and on sale now since you want to wear more green. 😉

  6. I love all of these coats, but especially that longer camel one! So beautiful on you! Sadly at under 5′ long coats don’t work well for me, but I can appreciate it nonetheless. 🙂 I’m wondering what you do for care and maintenance on your wool and down coats?

  7. What a fabulous post! Before retirement, my favourite go-to outfit was a trench coat, blazer, sweater, dress pants, and boots. After retiring I felt frumpy in casual clothes until I started acquiring a variety of weather and activity-appropriate coats to replace the blazers. Now I feel put together again without being overdressed. Your post illustrated that perfectly! Love your style. Looking forward to finding more inspiration here!

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