Full disclosure: I am not particularly fussy about coats. I like the kind that, were you to get stuck in a sudden downpour, you wouldn’t notice the difference, and that’s what I wear most days.
I do own a few smarter coats, for those occasions when the weather repellers won’t cut it, including a Stand faux fur (of which more later) but, of all the things in my wardrobe, they’re the ones I feel the most meh about. So, just to be clear, I’m not in the market (not at the moment anyway) for a nice winter coat.
I am, however, coming round to the point of an eye- catching coat — a statement coat, if you like — only I’d rather call it a show coat, because the point of this cover-up is not that it’s a knockout in a fashionable way, but in a fabulous, undateable, year-after-year, joy-bringing kind of way.
Shane Watson shared his advice on how to embrace this season’s exotic coats trends at all occasions. Pictured by Kate Middleton
The real attraction is, it does all the work so you don’t have to. The show coat is the focal point of the restaurant or party, so you can keep it simple underneath. On those days when you’re going to be on the move, the show coat is what everyone will see and remember while you relax in an ordinary sweater and trousers.
When you’re running out of the door and notice you’re looking drab and creased, just sling on your show coat and bingo, you look like you’re going to lunch with Liz Hurley.
If you can add glamour and flair by slipping a warm layer on top, then why wouldn’t you? Maybe most women already know this, or maybe the way we dress now — less effortful and dressy — has allowed the exotic coat to take centre stage. Either way, it’s show coat time.
The easiest way to go showy without any fuss — my preferred route — is with bright colour, or, better still, a colour clash. Essentiel Antwerp is emerging as the label to go to for wow colour and its reversible red and pink wrap coat (£435, essentiel-antwerp.com) is a guaranteed head-turner.
Less high-impact but bright enough to get you noticed is Zara’s grass green double-breasted coat (£129, zara.com) or the sky blue waisted style with double-breasted fastening (£129, zara.com).
A printed coat is no harder to wear, so long as the colours you wear with it are roughly the same tone (it’s mixing muddies with brights that causes problems) and a subtle abstract print is more versatile than one punchy colour.
Zara has a wool, two-button, green and brown print coat that’s surprisingly pricey for the brand (£239) but it looks expensive and is a keeper.
Also in its limited-edition range is a greenish-brown textured coat that almost has the appearance of mossy bark (£159). It doesn’t sound appealing but it is, especially if you like artisanal labels like Toast.
A coat can have half its appeal if it has texture. That’s perhaps why L.K. Bennett has scored a hit with its forest green brushed wool version with a mink faux fur collar (£459, lkbennett.com).
Alternatively, you could copy Kate Middleton and dress up your double-breasted midi coat — River Island does one in hot pink (£110, riverisland.com) — with a faux fur lapel collar (£75, troylondon.com).
This brings us to faux furriness. My leopard faux fur, which I used to wear occasionally after dark, now gets regular airing and has the exact same effect on my mood that putting on a pair heels did. It makes old cream silk blouses and velvet trousers look planned.
Hush does a good thigh-skimming faux leopard coat (£210, hush-uk.com). With this print, you can get away with shorter cuts but you’ll get more wear out of mid-length.
Otherwise, if you want to go a bit wilder, Essentiel Antwerp has a green shaggy faux fur coat (£370). It could be too Cousin Theresa Itt from The Addams Family or one of those coats that you just love to wear.
On that note, it’s worth remembering coats aren’t subject to the age-appropriate rules that, whether we like it or not, still influence fashion. Any coat can be worn by anyone of any age. They’re like handbags in that respect. Enjoy.