Brrr, is that a winter wind we hear, knocking on the door, shaking the house to its very foundations? You want to step out, but the coat rack only seems to be holding thinly layered numbers in earthy, Autumnal hues. And what’s this, blowing in from the east? A gale of guilt about the frivolity of investing in a new jacket. But you wouldn’t want to catch a cold, now would you?

Fortunately, owing to the sturdiness of the standard winter warmer, buying one can be viewed somewhat as an investment; an item in the wardrobe which is destined to see a few Christmasses, at the very least. With that in mind, here are 5 IDEAL tips for picking a winter coat.

PRIORITISE WARMTH….

Hands-up if you’ve bought a winter coat before, simply because it looked good, but in terms of practicality, the coat fell short. Well, you wouldn’t be the first, or the last for that matter. We’ve all been tempted by a coat with a pretty collar, elegant belt or cute looking baubles and ended up feeling thoroughly, miserably cold. Unfortunately, coats with an onus on trendy often fail to protect their wearers from the biting winds of winter or a prolonged period outside, exposed to the elements. Bear in mind that if your new coat doesn’t fulfil its primary purpose, to keep you warm, then it’ll likely remain in the wardrobe for the entire winter season.

….& VERSATILITY

Remember that a winter coat is going to be celebrating a whole host of different occasions – and as such, levels of warmth and formality – with you. From bonfire night to wandering around the Christmas markets, to office dinners all the way to New Year’s Eve and the dreaded, barren couple of months afterwards, all with likely a few birthday parties thrown in for good measure, you need to choose something which will look appropriate for all happenings. It’s a good idea, then, to opt for a classic style and colour which goes with everything; navy, grey, perhaps even beige, are best.

LOOK FOR QUALITY & BE PREPARED TO SPEND MONEY

The winter coat is the piece you will wear the most this season and the one which will take the biggest battering; drinks spilt on it, snowflakes, rainfall, the lot. It’ll see you through the cold months, for years, so it’s important to invest money in a quality piece, ‘invest’ being the operative word here.

Be sure to read every label to check out the material(s) used. Steer clear of cheap acrylics masquerading as wool, and make double sure your jacket’s not made of polyester, as this material doesn’t retain heat at all well. Look for products made with down, the ideal insulator at this time of year. Throw a little wool into the mix, and you’re on to a winner this Winter.

TOO TIGHT TO TROT

An unforgivable mistake when choosing the right garment for the colder months is going for an outer layer which is too tight. It’s imperative that you make sure there’s enough room to accommodate layers underneath, or you’ll end up looking rather silly and immobile, too. Choose a winter coat which is fairly loose, with an adjustable belt so you and what you’re wearing beneath have a chance to breathe.

PICK A POCKET & HOOD

Adornments be damned. You should carefully contemplate what your coat is boasting before you accessorise the rest of your outfit. Obviously, pockets will not only keep your hands warm, but also offer a safe place to keep your gloves and beanie hat. So many festive seasons have been marked (and marred) by lost items like this, so make sure your pockets are accommodating enough. The bigger the better we say.

For many, including us, hoods are non-negotiable. For others though, they are annoying and a little uncouth looking. The answer? A coat with a detachable hood; great as an option for when it’s windy and rainy.