IF there's one wardrobe staple for which impulse buys should be banned, it's the winter coat.

A cosy cover-up is worth its weight in gold for the sheer amount of style impact it delivers on a day-to-day basis, so it pays to invest wisely.

Let's face it, no matter what you're wearing underneath, it will always be the first thing that anyone looks at.

"A great coat must deliver not just on style but on warmth, longevity and versatility," says Paula Reed, author of Style Clinic.

"Use it to make an entrance. Use it to camouflage figure faults. Use it to make your style statement."

Take cover with the styles to covet this winter.


The catwalk coat mood of this season is stripped back and chic with slightly mannish undertones. Good news when it comes to wardrobe endurance because the simpler the coat, the more likely it is to have a shelf life beyond one season.

If the minimalist coat approach is for you, choose a timeless, neutral hue like black, navy, grey or camel.

This season's slightly oversized shapes have more than a touch of androgyny about them but the womanly difference is all in the softly curved shoulders and shapely silhouettes.

If you prefer cocoon-like shapes to straight cuts, ensure you keep your outfit underneath streamlined to create balance.


A coloured coat that packs a punch is just the antidote to dark, wintry nights.

Pick your favourite hue from jewel tone indigos and emeralds, through to icy pastel pinks and mints. Ensure the shade takes centre stage by cutting down on fussy extra detailing like belts, oversized buttons and multiple pockets.

Pink is the hottest hue of the season and your clothes will come up smelling of roses if you wear the must-have blush against navy or grey clothing.

Block colour coats are best suited to those who favour a dark wardrobe so that they make an impact. If you really want to play up the colour, wear different tones in the same shade for a fashion-forward look.


Ensure all eyes are on you wherever you walk with an attention-seeking coat. You hardly need to bother with your outfit underneath!

Animal prints are big news for this season but, for a quirky twist on traditional leopard, go wild and try a snow leopard colourway. Not just for Dalmatian dogs and Cruella de Vil - black on white spots is the go-to print this winter but keep the dots small, subtle and scattered so you don't look like a cartoon character.

For a more geometric look, select tartan-inspired or oversized checks to wow.

If you can't resist an element of costume drama, try embellished or embroidered coats in a straight cut and team with jeans and jumpers by day and LBDs for after-dark.


All-over faux furs are fine for the very depths of winter but beyond that they seem a touch OTT. Instead, look to fur accents for a more wearable autumn to spring overcoat.

Contrasting textures are just the ticket, with statement panels of shearling or faux fur cosied up against wool or leather.

If you prefer something more traditional, look for a covering of faux fur on lapels for the snug factor. An everyday Crombie coat can also be given a luxurious transformation with a contrasting faux fur tippet or neck warmer draped around the shoulders.

For a tomboyish, playful feel, seek out faux fur parka hoods that you can utilise when temperatures really drop for instant face insulation.


Add some fairytale drama to your walk with a maxi coat, or an overcoat that brushes your shins.

Not only will it offer extra snugness when temperatures plummet, it's long-length shape can streamline your figure.

The taller you are, the longer your coat can be but petites under 5ft 5in should avoid the risk of looking swamped.

All-black can look too severe, so try a variation like dark grey or navy for a softer, more wearable approach.

For a true classic, you can't go wrong with a billowing camel coat that will go with just about everything and still look fresh once spring arrives.