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The Hunt: Wool Coats for Work

coats for work

2017 Update: Check out our latest roundup of winter coats that work as hard as you do!

Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

After the weekend we’ve had (thank you Jonas), it may seem a bit silly to talk about professional-looking coats — after all, when it’s freezing, nasty and disgusting outside, being warm and dry are the primary considerations. Particularly when working from home is easier than ever, if you make it into the office at all, no one should be judging you for blizzard attire like an expedition coat and Sorels. But it isn’t blizzarding every day in the winter, and I still think a wool coat (or, fine, even a slim-fit puffer coat like some of the ones we featured on our roundup of washable coats for CorporetteMoms) does look more professional.  Shop for a winter coat that covers your thighs (for warmth, as well as the most versatility — nothing looks quite so silly as a peacoat and skirt), and be sure to size up if you need to to accommodate a sweater or blazer beneath your coat. (Other great layers: silk turtlenecks and long johns can add serious warmth without bulk, and there are so many puffer/fleece vests that I’m kind of tempted to try them under my winter coat on really cold days.) I’ve always looked for a wool/cashmere blend as the best (the cashmere makes it warm; the wool makes it durable), but I’ve also heard great things about alpaca’s warmth; these days you can find technical enhancements to wool like Lands’ End (pictured after the jump; it’s good to 10 below!!) or lined with thinsulate, like some J.Crew and LL Bean coats.  Ladies, what coats are you wearing this winter? How many do you have; which ones do you think are the most professional-looking, which are the warmest, and so forth? Have you recently bought any coats you love? 

First, a roundup of some special interest coats:

(If you’re interested in previous discussions, here’s our roundups from 2013 and 2009.)

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The Hunt: Wool Coats

Reiss Leo Fit and Flare Coat

2017 Update: Check out our latest roundup of winter coats that work as hard as you do!

Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

I have always done my winter coat shopping in January (if not later) because of all the deals that you can get. Coats in particular are generally classic pieces, and considering the amount of wear you may get from it (wearing it several days a week, for months, for several years — at least) I’ve always seen it as a justifiable “splurge” item. For today’s Hunt, I thought we’d look for wool coats that you could fit a blazer beneath. The trick here is to get something several sizes larger than what you normally get — if you’re a size 4, consider looking at 6s and 8s. Readers, have you bought any great wool coats lately? Do you wear blazers beneath your coats, or do you have another system (e.g., keeping your blazers at the office)?
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Tuesday’s TPS Report: Tipped Sixties Coat

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Tipped Sixties CoatI am a fan of this jacket in almost any color but this mustard and pink combo — but alas, that’s the one they chose to put the model in, so FINE. As we segue-way into warmer weather (finally!) it always strikes me how women can express a ton of individuality and personality in outerwear. It also makes sense for it to be a bit of a splurge — after all, you may wear it multiple times a week. I like this textured cotton coat from Boden — the “tipping” on the pockets, cuffs (and even on the half-belt in the back, love!) adds a bit of interest and whimsy, and I always love a colored lining. It’s available in, well, this color (sigh), a dark blue/light blue combo (which you know I can get behind), a really subtle navy-on-navy (with pink lining) combo, and a a beige/taupe combo (also pretty subtle). Lovely. It’s $168 at Boden, most sizes still available (except the mustard, which I just noticed is sold out — clearly I’m the only one who hates it). Tipped Sixties Coat


Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.

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Splurge Monday’s TPS Report: Ruffled Trench Coat

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Diane von Furstenberg Ruffled Trench CoatI always feel like outerwear is a good place to invest because a) you can wear it every day during the season, and b) if you invest well, you’ll have it for years. Today I’m liking this slightly different take on the classic trench from Diane von Furstenberg — the ruffle is interesting, yet not too frilly or clown-like. I also like the way the jacket looks different depending on whether it’s worn open or closed, as well as when the top button is closed. It’s $565 at Bergdorf Goodman (and at Bloomingdale’s as well). Ruffled Trench Coat


Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.

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Navigating a New York Winter with Style and Grace

How to Dress Professionally For a New York Winter | CorporetteReader B has some good questions about navigating a New York winter:

I work for a global financial firm and will be heading to Manhattan for a week-long business trip in mid-January out of our NY offices. As a lifelong Southern California Girl, I am totally clueless how to navigate the weather and still look professional?

I’ve seen your posts on individual aspects (footwear, coats, bring a pashmina, etc) but was hoping you might have an overall take on how to travel for work in a cold climate for the uninitiated, such as:

  • Will my Hunter wellies + warm socks be enough to get me from the hotel to the office to dinner?
  • Can I strut down the sidewalks in my kitten heel boots or will they get ruined?
  • Is my thin wool coat over my suit jacket enough or should I splurge on a down coat? (I noticed Overstock had some good looking coats and since this trip is a regular part of my new position, I don’t mind spending money on a few investment items.)
  • How do most people in NY handle the office to dinner? Do I need to tote any sort of change of clothes with me?

I’m interested to hear what the readers say on this one.  (Pictured: Slush, originally uploaded to Flickr by holly_northrop.) First, I would say this really depends on your trip.  If you’re going to be either a) working closely with senior executives from your firm or b) meeting clients, then I would axe the Hunter wellies unless they’re a basic black.  They’re fine for a commute to and from the office, but I wouldn’t want to be sitting around at dinner with VIPs while wearing them.  (I have a sad, sad story about wearing Uggs to dinner with my senior partner and a client, but we shall have to save that for another day.  But really, talk about huge regrets.) [Read more…]

Looking Professional in C-c-c-old Weather

Ewww! I just got some slush down inside my boots. I really *hate* that!, originally uploaded to Flickr by Ed YourdonReader J has a question probably shared by a lot of other recent graduates…

I have a question about getting dressed in the colder weather. I just graduated from law school and am now beginning my career up north after living in the south for my entire life. After only working summer jobs my whole professional life, I have warm weather office wear down. The big problem is that I have absolutely no idea how to dress myself for work in the winter. Do I wear boots to work? Do I wear something different for the train ride to work? What do I do when it’s raining in all directions? Please help!

This is an excellent question, if only because nothing is sadder than a grown woman wearing a ski jacket with a skirt suit, or someone trouncing around the office in Ugg boots. (Pictured: Ewww! I just got some slush down inside my boots. I really *hate* that!,  originally uploaded to Flickr by Ed Yourdon.) In general, cold weather  dressing should entail: [Read more…]

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