Coat trends AW23: It's time to wrap up in style and these are the key styles to invest in as winter is coming
A coat is not just something you throw on as you head out the door. At least, it shouldn’t be. Nor is a coat merely a protector against the weather, as necessary as that is here in the UK, and especially in Yorkshire. No indeed.
A coat is the item of clothing that you wear most often. Of everything in your wardrobe, your coat is the piece that most people see and notice you wearing more than anything else - and it could well be how they identify you from afar. You are your coat.
Think of the famous coats of television and film. Bogart’s classic, slightly rumpled, belted trench in Casablanca; the black, floor-sweeping gown-like coats of Keanu Reeves in The Matrix; Diane Keaton’s tweedy oversized check coat in Annie Hall; the huge grey trench worn by Christopher Lambert in Highlander; the Louis Vuitton white coat worn by Cameron Diaz in The Holiday; Bianca’s silver bomber jacket in Eastenders.
"Wearing the right coat, a woman is ready to take on the world," says Lucy Adlington, the author and fashion historian behind the Opening the Wardrobe exhibition currently on show at Bankfield Museum in Halifax.
There developed a fashion for gentlemen's greatcoats in the 18th century called "wrap-rascals", copying the style from working class men, Lucy explains, highlighting a quote from the London Evening Post in 1738: "There is at present a reigning ambition among our young gentlemen of degrading themselves in apparel to the class of the servants they keep … slouched in humble imitation of stage-coachmen". Cloaks were considered more gentlemanly, but coats were here to stay.
In 1823 Charles Mackintosh patented a cloth waterproofed with India rubber and so it was that the stalwart mac was born. In 1879, Thomas Burberry discovered a cloth made of individual strands of wool yarn that were waterproofed, giving a breathable, water-resistant fabric of closely woven wool, and called gabardine. Sir Ernest Shackleton wore Burberry for his 1914 Antarctic expedition.
Coats tell stories, says Lucy. “The first item of the Opening the Wardrobe exhibition is a 1930s coat worn by a young woman who was deported to Russia from Lviv in WW2. She survived and kept her coat the whole time, until her eventual move to Yorkshire after the war.
“In my collection I have a 1940s fur coat donated to a woman bombed out of her home in Coventry. She always felt too shy to wear it, supposing other people had lost more than she had. Remarkably, it is fake fur.”
Find out more about Lucy Adlington and The History Wardrobe at www.historywardrobe.com
A coat is an investment and must be selected with care, and with a view to longevity, both in terms of style and quality. For AW23, the overall trend is classic, well-cut and wearable, as designers and retailers continue to respond to economic conditions, reasoning that buying well is buying for both present and future.
The tailored wool coat is a key AW23 trend and the key is to look for a beautifully cut style, in quality fabric. Oversized and long is very now, to the ankle, for extra drama, but shorter versions, to below the knee, are good too and might well prove to go the extra mile in the long-term. Dolce & Gabbana and Stella McCartney gave their black coats a super-glam hourglass shape, while Victoria Beckham has a single-breasted long-line coat, while Balenciaga offered great frame-swamping styles. Dark green can be a lovely alternative to black and Jigsaw has a lovely style here in the Smart Works Capsule Collection by Isabel Spearman and find out more about the Smart Works Leeds Fashion as a Force for Good Ball in November here.
Classic trench coats are also a major 2023 coat trend, with the decided advantage that they never date, can be worn all year-round, look polished and work with everything, from sportswear to ballgowns. The traditional trench that we know and love (and will keep for ever and ever) is double-breasted and belted with storm flaps, but there are also simpler styles about this season for a pared-back, minimalist look, as well as styles with a very 2023 oversized fit. Burberry is, of course, the all-time classic, a worthy investment for those who can afford to make that choice, but there are camel trenches out there for all budgets. Make sure you take a look at the Barbour x House of Hackney style. The leather trench is a key on-trend piece for those inclined.
For those who prefer their outerwear to make a more overt fashion statement, faux fur coats are back with a statement bang, a great choice for those in search of glamour with an edge of playfulness. Look out for bold colours and fierce prints (check out Whistles).
Check coats are a joy for AW23 and this is a great year to buy a new one as there are some simple, luxurious-looking, classic styles about, including dogtooth for a sharp look and tartan for a touch of flamboyance. Soft muted tones look expensive and full of character, while brighter tones are a cool way to add flair - the new autumn edit from Marks & Spencer fronted by Sienna Miller features a bold red large check textured coat that is a must-have of the season. Pair your check coat with a dress in winter floral print, and you’ve got an easy AW23 look ready to go anywhere.
Look out for folded and cape coats - see what Cos in the Victoria Gate store in Leeds has to offer, while Purdey has a beautiful rich brown knee-length cape-style coat with a long tie collar - perfect for wearing with boots
Leather bomber jackets and aviator shearling styles are the way to go for those who do not do long coats, and are a great layer piece, especially if you opt for one of this season’s oversized looks. Keep the lower half streamlined if you don’t want to look boxy and swamped.
Padded coats and puffer jackets are perfect for chilly days, especially if you are heading for the hills, so take a look at what Tog 24, White Stuff and The North Face have in store. Go for silver and channel your inner Bianca from Eastenders.