A few thoughts on winter outerwear
In London at the first sign of some sunshine after the long winter everyone jumps straight into sun dresses, shorts, sandals, and some men jump right out of shirts all together. Now keep in mind, sunshine does not necessarily mean warmth. The actual temps that would require these clothing choices are still months away, but the mere sight of some rays is enough for people to put on a brave face and risk hypothermia. I was just always happy that I FINALLY got to wear my leather jacket again.
In Copenhagen they seem to do the opposite.
As soon as summer ends the winter coats, beanies, and obligatory/ubiquitous Acne Studios Canada scarf come out. Since the first week of September I’ve been seeing people as bundled up as they were during the last weeks of January. There has been no transition period. Sartorially speaking the Danes are living in winter, even if the temps say fall. And here I am, just happy to wear my leather jacket again!
In a way I don’t blame them. Once it actually arrives, Copenhagen does winter pretty seriously. And I love a good coat almost as much as I love a great pair of boots, so I am happy to have an excuse to bust out the outerwear big guns. But I’m also a fan of a good mid-weight, transitional option, and I have to say that I think the Danes are really missing the trick by skipping this step.
However in the spirit of assimilating into my new homeland, I thought I’d dedicate a post to winter coats. Also, I just got the one in these pictures and really wanted to wear it! So sue me.
Copenhagen is a good place for winter coats because it is cold enough to go for some drama: faux fur, sweeping lengths, fuzzy warm fabric, big hoods and all the usual trappings. But it’s not cold-cold. It’s not Mid-West cold, or Siberia cold, or even other parts of Scandinavia cold. Which means while you need something plenty warm, you don’t need something technically warm (I don’t mean “technically,” I mean something engineered to keep you alive in sub-zero temps). You’re not risking death from exposure every time you pop out for some milk, so you can still have a little fun with your winter wear.
If you live somewhere cold, but not cold-cold, I really recommend building up a collection of coats warm enough to see you through the bleak midwinter. Not all at once of course, but over a few years. It is something that you are going to wear everyday and having options will give you a lot more fashion freedom.
Also I once nearly had a mental breakdown after 2 winters of wearing the same coat every damn day. I’m not kidding, I cried at the thought of wearing it in the end. It’s also probably the reason that I have extreme issues with the colour navy to this day. All I’m saying is some variety never hurt anyone.
If you’re in the market for a good winter coat, keep in mind what you’re going to be wearing under it. I wear a lot of chunky jumpers, so I like to know I’ll be able to fit them in the sleeves and still still be able to move my arms. It’s a good idea to invest a bit in your winter outerwear. Good fabric, proper linings and fasteners that really work will go a long way in keeping you warm. However look at the fabric contents, 100% wool is great, but it may actually last longer and pill less if it’s blended with a small amount of synthetic.
I know I say this all the time, but check your local vintage and charity shops. The phrase “they just don’t make them like they used to” was probably first said about coats. They honestly built them to last back in the day, and if you need a high quality option on a budget, thrifting should be your first stop. The over all style of most winter coats hasn’t changed in about 100 years, so unlike other fashion items they date much slower.
My last tip is just accept that you are probably going to have to be getting it dry cleaned. Very few heavy outerwear options are going to be machine safe, or even hand-washable. The thing is, they are not meant to be washed that often. Sorry for all you clean freaks out there, but anymore than once a year is too much. Spot clean when you need and get it dry cleaned at the end of the winter, if you really think it needs it. I have some coats that have never been cleaned, they look great and don’t smell. Sorry not sorry.
Click through for some winter coat options that are great if you live somewhere regular cold, not super cold.