Friday, 30 November 2018

The Great Coat Rush

Winter came early this year, and it’s left more than a few people scrambling for winter coats. Last time this happened was 2011, and it forced some folks to make some less-than-good decisions.

So before you rush out to buy the first thing you see, read this interview we did with Dorothea Merritt, our lead coat buyer.

Thanks for sitting down for a chat, Dorothea.
No problem. I could talk about coats all day.

Ok, so let’s get down to it, then. What’s trending in coats this year?

Rather than a super-thick coat like a parka, we’re seeing double coats: a thin coat underneath a slightly thicker one. This makes it easier to react to temperature changes throughout the day. Europeans have done winter this way for generations — a thin jacket or vest under a wider, fuller coat or a thick sweater under a light overcoat. It’s really only here that people double down on one super-thick coat.

And I like it when the two coats contrast in colour, too. There’s too much black out there already. One idea would be a dark sweater under a lighter-coloured (blue or pink) jacket, accessorized with some of the gold or silver jewellery to make the ensemble pop. Another would be a Petrusse scarf under a coat, which will work out well for you if youre cold indoors and dont want to put on your coat again.


Interesting. But is that realistic in a place like Canada? I mean, it’s gets a lot colder here than it does in Paris, doesn’t it? 

Yeah, but that’s why the first question you should ask yourself is what the coat is going to be for. For example, if you know you’re going to be out in –20˚C walking your dog, then yes, go for a thickest warmest winter coat you can find. We brought a few of those in. But we also brought in a few for going to and from work. In each case, I  consider fabrication and the fabrics provenance. The smart coat buyer is always interested in where the fabrics come from — and where the garment is made as well.

What do you look for from the fabrics?

Warmth. Water-repelling. Breathability. Ideally, you want all three in a fabric. The first two are obviously critical for us in Canada. But breathability is a big one people tend to forget. But when you spend a good amount of time picking the perfect ensemble for the day, and then sweat through on your way to work because your coat doesn’t let your body breathe, you’ll spend the whole day fidgeting and fussing with your outfit. It’s the worst.  

We like the LODEN wool which is woven loosely, undergoes a water treatment so that the fabric shrinks.The cloth is then brushed with thistles and sheared.The finished product is so dense it is water-resistant, wind-proof and comfortable-a beautiful investment.


It sounds like you’re saying no to goose-down jackets.

On the contrary. In Canada, we all need one of those. But it’s about choosing wisely. Make sure the individual compartments are well-sewn or the down will drift. And make sure you don’t spend too much because you probably won’t wear it as much as you think you will. Somewhere between $700 and $1,200 will get you a down jacket that lasts multiple seasons. Then put the money you save towards a classic wool coat you’ll wear so much more. In a cold windy city like Toronto, a wool coat is a must, and wool is making a big comeback.

That’s good to hear. What about animal fur?

I love the look but I hate the practice, which is why I went full faux-fur. It feels great and it’s pretty much impossible to tell the difference between faux and natural these days. I’m a buyer and I have trouble telling the difference.

The jury seems split on pockets, especially the women we spoke to. What do you say?

Interesting you say that. I’ve seen the same split. Some of the buyers I meet like to tout how elegant their pockets are. And while I do look at the pockets when shopping, I never actually use them because I dont want to ruin the line of the coat by putting anything in the pockets. Most women have a purse for that stuff anyway.

So whats the relationship between a woman and her coat?

Obviously, on a basic level, it’s about keeping her warm. But it’s also the essence of her style because it’s what people are going to see first from the beginning of November to the end of March.

I’m wearing a 3/4 length black Loden coat from Salzburg made with Loro Piana wool and I love it. The more I wear it, the more confident I am in my style. But it took me a while to find it. The right coat fits perfectly.

So if you could leave our readers with one piece of coat-shopping advice, what would it be?

Whether youre buying one coat for your closet, or hundreds for a store, you have to try them on, feel what they feel like, move around in them and especially move your arms around. I would strongly dissuade anyone from coat shopping online for that reason. You’re going to be wearing your coat every day for a long time so it had better be comfortable.

That’s great advice. Any parting words?

Unless you have a large three-way mirror in your home, buy your coat in a store.

1 comment:

  1. genius account of how to buy a proper winter coat for you!