Feel the benefit and look the business with our buying guide and mini reviews to help you find your perfect cold-weather companion
A great coat is one of the best consolations of winter. Christmas is nice, but what really excites us as the evenings draw in is the excuse to cocoon in soft wool, tailored tweed, faux fur or puffy down (the “walking duvet” approach).
Like Christmas, the best winter coats don’t come cheap – but they last a lot longer. All of the items in our rundown of 2019’s best winter coats are built to be worn year after year so, even though their price tags usually have three figures, their cost-per-wear makes them excellent value for money. A well-chosen winter coat could be one of the longest relationships of your life.
In a moment we’ll reveal the winter coats that best combine function and fabulousness for men and women in 2019. First, here’s a quick buying guide.
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How to choose your ideal winter coat
What are the basic rules of buying a winter coat?
Invest in a coat you love. A good winter coat doesn’t just keep you warm and comfortable, it’s also the first piece of clothing people notice about you, so it’s a big statement. Don’t rush and don’t skimp, this is one of the most important garments you’ll ever buy.
Allow room for layers. Buy a coat that’ll accommodate plenty of layers and even a changing body shape. Some cheap winter coats have skinny arms that feel uncomfortable over a jumper, especially in your armpits. Avoid the sausage stuffing look and err on the side of roomy.
Think pockets. No matter how much you love the cut, fabric and colour of a coat, you will grow to resent it deeply if it doesn’t have good pockets. Other extras that serve more than an aesthetic purpose include generous hoods, drawstrings, warm fitting cuffs, and collars that you can fold up to protect your neck from freezing wind.
Don’t be too trendy, at least unless you want to buy a new coat next year. You can probably get through December in an on-trend coat that’s only moderately warm. Find something stylish that’s also warm, but if pushed choose warmth over trendiness. The very best winter coats are timeless classics.
What are the pros and cons of different coat materials?
Wool: The best material for winter coats, bar none. It’s warm, durable, odour-resistant, easy to cut and colour, and can also be moisture-resistant and flame-retardant. A pure wool coat would be very expensive, though, so most “wool” coats are a wool mix, using nylon or polyester to improve affordability and versatility. The best quality wool coats are at least 60% wool.
Wool is a renewable and biodegradable material, but it can be connected with animal welfare risks. Companies including H&M, whose range of wool winter coats is hard to beat this year, are clear about their commitment to ethically-sourced wool.
Nylon: Mixed with wool to make the coat more affordable and even more durable. It’s also a densely-woven fibre, offering excellent defence again winter draughts.
Polyester: Also commonly found in mixes, but it doesn’t work as well in winter coat fabric as nylon, because it’s not particularly warm or breathable. However it’s cheap and very versatile, so if you’re shopping for faux fur or this season’s on-trend colour then polyester is your friend. Just don’t expect a 100% polyester coat to keep you warm outside the pub at 2am in December.
Cotton: Thick cotton is a great choice for military style jackets and trench coats, and tends to hold up better in the rain (and the washing machine!) than wool. It’s not as warm, though.
Down: Duck or goose feathers are a classic insulator. It gets alarmingly weighed down in damp weather, though, and is hard to dry out. If buying natural down, check for certifications such as the Responsible Down Standard to help ensure the birds are not force-fed or live-plucked. Or go for synthetic down, which is cruelty-free and holds up much better in wet weather.
Avoid multi-material mixes. Fibre mixes, such as wool and nylon, improve durability and cost-effectiveness, but too many fibres spoil the coat. The more fibres in the blend, the more prone the fabric is to pilling and bobbling.
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The best winter coats you can buy in 2020
1. H&M Wool-blend coat: Best winter coat for women
Price: £180 | Buy now from H&M
H&M is top of the class for winter coats this year. Our favourite is this beautifully soft classic which manages to be lightweight but warm, durable but soft, and effortless but classy, all for less than £200.
We love the cut, which is big enough to flatter and to accommodate layers of clothes, but doesn’t look weird on smaller frames. The details are spot on, too, with fab big patch pockets and soft wide lapels that you can pull up to keep out wintry gusts.
The wool content is a mixture of recycled wool and cruelty-free wool sourced from Responsible Wool Standard certified suppliers. The polyester lining is largely recycled too, and H&M says it’s striving to increase its use of recycled nylon.
Downsides? You can’t try this coat on in the shops, as it’s available online only. However, delivery and returns are free. Like most wool coats, it’s dry-clean only, but apart from that, it’s hard to find fault.
Key specs – Material: Shell: 62% wool, 38% polyamide nylon; Lining: 100% polyester (dry-clean only); Colours available: 3; Sizes available: 4 (S-XL, approx UK 8-22)
2. AllSaints Ester Parka Puffer Coat: Best quilted winter coat
Price: £378 | Buy now from AllSaints
If your idea of a good winter coat is basically a bed with sleeves, then this fabulous quilted parka from AllSaints will be worth the investment – especially since its classic green colour and hooded parka shape will never go out of style.
The insulation is entirely synthetic but feels almost as heavy as duck down. This isn’t a coat you can scrunch up and stick in your bag, or in the washing machine. But boy is it warm, and it’s also softer and much more water-resistant than duck down.
As with all our favourite coats, this one also wins on details. The elasticated cuffs keep the chill out, the pockets are big and covered, and the exaggerated hood offers complete cocooning.
Key specs – Material: Shell: 66% polyester, 34% cotton; Lining: 100% polyester (dry-clean only); Colours available: 1; Sizes available: 4 (XS-L)
3. Boss Menswear Water-repellent Overcoat: Best waterproof winter coat
Price: £369 | Buy now from Hugo Boss
This tailored mac offers the best of both worlds: warmth and waterproofing. The twill cotton-mix shell has a water-repellent finish to keep your threads from getting soaked, and inside the lining is quilted for extra insulation that you wouldn’t get with a cheaper mac or trench coat. There’s a sturdy wind-cheating zip hidden away under the classy buttons, and the cuff straps help to keep the wind from whistling up your arms.
This clever and classy coat is one of the pricier items on our list, but it’ll last years and looks the absolute business. Also comes in black and racing green.
Key specs – Material: Shell: 70% polyester, 30% cotton; Lining: 100% polyester (dry-clean only); Colours available: 3; Sizes available: 9 (44-102)
4. Getaria Pea Coat for Men: Best short winter coat
Price: £180 | Buy now from Quiksilver
You can really wrap yourself up in this super-warm pea coat, whose functional details and robust feel hark back to its ancestors’ origins in the Navy.
The big warm hood with drawstring, big snap buttons with hidden zip, and chunky wool-blend jacquard-weave fabric will keep the elements off the saltiest sea dogs. Even the pockets and hood get extra protection from wooly straps and flaps. On top of that, this fully-lined coat is cut to allow plenty of room for jumpers inside.
Quiksilver’s fabric is probably the warmest in our rundown but this pea coat is relatively short, so it may not be for you if you like to feel cloaked, or if your knees suffer in the cold. However it’s perfect for wearing with thick trousers and gives you more mobility than a longer overcoat.
Key specs – Material: 60% wool, 40% polyester (dry-clean only); Colours available: 1; Sizes available: 6 (XS-XXL)
5. H&M Wool-blend Coat: Best winter coat under £100
Price: £79.99 | Buy now from H&M
Here’s another wool winner from H&M. This single-breasted burgundy dogtooth coat is gently tailored but doesn’t make you look or feel trussed up, so it suits any occasion.
You might want to add a hat and scarf when the next Beast from the East rolls through town, though. The wool mix isn’t thick enough to keep out winter’s worst excesses, and this style is best worn fairly close-fitting, so it doesn’t leave much room for layers. You could throw on a chunky scarf or even a wrap over the top of this coat, though, and you’d still look fabulous.
Key specs – Material: Shell: 52% polyester, 48% wool; Lining: 56% polyester, 44% viscose (dry-clean only); Colours available: 1; Sizes available: 10 (4-22)
6. Busy Clothing Womens Black Long Wool Blend Coat: Best long wool winter coat for women
Price: £94.99 | Buy now from Amazon
You won’t go unnoticed in this Victorian-style frock coat, which looks and feels far more expensive than its £85 price tag.
The coat is quite spacious, despite being gently fitted at the waist, so if you buy it in your normal dress size you’ll still have room for warm clothes underneath – not that you’ll need many extra layers, given how warm it is. The details are fab: deep pockets, a wide notched collar that you can fold up for extra warmth, a slimming belt on the back, and buttoned cuffs. Best of all, the shape is beautifully flattering and stays that way when the buttons are open. A great buy.
Key specs – Material: 75% wool, 20% polyamide, 5% cashmere (dry-clean only); Colours available: 2; Sizes available: 7 (10-22, length approx 126cm/49.5in
7. AllSaints Hanson Coat: Best long wool winter coat for men
Price: £348 | Buy now from AllSaints
The slim lapel, clean lines and oversized fit of this wool-blend coat give it a minimalist (even Mod) feel, but it’s classic enough to work well with most outfits. The ‘split wool’ finish is felt-like and very warm, and the oversized cut is roomy enough to go over plenty of layers and light enough not to weigh you down. You’ll be relieved to hear there are pockets, too, but they’re well hidden along the side seams.
Key specs – Material: 58% wool, 42% polyester (dry-clean only); Colours available: 3; Sizes available: 4 (XS-L)
8. Acne Studios padded fishtail parka: Best classic parka
Price: £600 | Buy now from Selfridges
You can get a polyester parka at the supermarket for £40, so why spend £600 on this one? Because it’s a magnificent piece of design, and despite using synthetic materials it’s robust, warm and comfortable. Besides, you’ll save a fortune on dry-cleaning because it’s machine washable.
Swedish label Acne Studios pours most of its design energies into cutting clothes to fit and hang in a perfect silhouette, and this oversized fishtail parka is a great example of that. The details are no afterthought, though. There are interior and exterior pockets, elasticated cuffs, satisfying poppers, a drawstring waist and hood, and a striking monochrome colour scheme that’s echoed by a warm black-and-white quilted lining. Classy cold-weather clobber.
Key specs – Material: Shell and filling: 100% polyester; Lining: 100% nylon (machine-washable); Colours available: 1; Sizes available: 4 (34-40, approx men’s M-XL)
9. Pieces oversized belted check coat: Best belted winter coat for women
Price: £80 | Buy now from Asos
The slouchy style of this coat by Pieces is cool and flattering, as is its handsome black-and-white checked pattern. The pockets are deep, the sleeves are generous and the waist has a proper belt (none of your fussy drawstring business here). The material may only be 3% wool, but the finish is brushed for extra softness and the deliberately baggy fit leaves loads of room for layers of clothes.
On the downside it does have something of the dressing gown about it, and if you’re small it may overwhelm you and look messy. But it looks great on the right frame – and you’re safe to chuck it in the washing machine.
Key specs – Material: Shell: 53% polyester, 33% acrylic, 6% viscose, 5% polyamide, 3% wool; Lining: 100% polyester (machine washable); Colours available: 2; Sizes available: 5 (XS-XL, approx UK women’s sizes 6-14)
10. Missguided cracked high shine trench coat: Fabulous faux leather winter coat
Price: £65 | Buy now from Asos
Put the “rrrrr” into winter with a sassy, sexy faux leather coat for well under 100 quid. And no animals were hurt in the making, etc.
Missguided’s coat is far from being a novelty garment. Its long sleeves, deep pockets, oversized lapels, belted waist and “cracked” leather finish look like something from a catwalk or spy movie, and there’s a proper trench coat vent on the back. Shame it’s not available in more sizes; Asos is now down to just 6,10 and 12.
Hurry, this mini review will self-destruct in five, four, three…
Key specs – Material: Shell: 100% polyurethane (wipe-clean only); Colours available: 1; Sizes available: 3 (6, 10, 12)