Our We Try Before You Buy series aims to take the stress out of shopping and eliminate the number of post office visits you make each month to return failed online orders. We test new-season buys and styling ideas so you don’t have to. Here, we’re letting you know what’s actually worth investing in.
Winter = coats. It's the only reason to get excited about darker nights or having to wrestle with tights, and no fashion editor is exempt from the satisfaction that comes with finding The One. Of all the investments you make across a wardrobe, coats stand up there with bags as the kind of piece that can truly last a lifetime. They can be handed down through families and, if you look after them, still look just as fresh as the day they were bought. Some coat buyers are so dedicated they set about snapping up key versions in August, but we're more inclined to turn our attention to outerwear when the weather really starts to change and the desire is there.
So for our latest We Try Before You Buy, we used this as a moment to try on as many coats as we could get our hands on. Borg! Camel! Suede! Leather! Colourful faux fur! We really made sure we covered all the possible coat styles you could be into this year to bring you our concise edit of the best of the best. We have a mix of not only styles but also price points, ranging from investment designer buys to gems we found on ASOS and M&S. Our aim with our try-ons is always to give you practical tips when it comes to sizing or explain how certain details actually look in real life, so our editors have all given a thorough review of their chosen coats. Keep scrolling to see the winter coats we think are worth investing in this year.
"I have seen this coat everywhere since Rixo launched outerwear for the first time a few weeks ago. I am a long-time fan of the brand, so I was excited to try its debut coats," says editor Emma Spedding. And it certainly looks like the end result didn't disappoint! The whole team fought over this one, but where some of us normally wear quite retro clothes, Spedding found a way to modernise the vintage-style piece. "I thought this would be quite 'out-there,' but it's easier to style than I thought. I'd wear it most with a jumper and pair of jeans rather than anything printed or too jazzy."
As for helping you make a decision, she says, "It hangs really beautifully, and the back panelling is perhaps my favourite, which I hadn't quite appreciated from the on-site pictures." Additionally, it's worth noting that there is a camel version if patchwork feels too bold for you and that it is true to size.
"I'm always on the lookout for a timeless neutral coat. This ASOS one felt like the perfect hybrid between a trench and a puffer, and it's lined with filling for extra warmth," explains Zoe Anastasiou, social media and fashion editor, noting as well the nice detail of a contrast collar. "Due to its casual nature, this coat looks best alongside jeans, skirts or any other pared-back casual outfits. I'd say the weekend is when this item will really shine. It's perfect for keeping you warm throughout long walks or an eve at the pub."
It's a very roomy style, so she recommends sizing down.
We couldn't try on coats without including at least one from ACNE, and our video content creator, Remi Afolabi, "took one for the team" with this beauty. "I was drawn to its super-oversized silhouette and raw-edge details," Afolabi explains. "The quality of the material really holds the shape well." As for styling, she says, "I love how this coat looks paired with loose-fitted jeans, and I think it also goes well with slightly flared trousers. It looks particularly cool zipped all the way up."
Afolabi recommends that you get the smallest you can because it’s more oversized than she expected.
"This is definitely a jacket that lends itself to a jeans-and-boots weekend pairing, but I also think the proportions could work with longer skirts and dresses. I would just recommend belting and adding platform or heeled boots to balance out the long and loose fit," says shopping editor Joy Montgomery, who used her own belt to customise this high-street find. She rated this M&S style in real life because the "fringing adds the sort of interest that you don't always see on high-street pieces. Plus, it's a good mix of light yet insulating," so you can easily layer this up over chunky knits when the temperature drops.
Her top tip? "The fit is definitely on the boxy side, but it's actually the length that I would take note of. I'm just over 5'7", and it ended mid-thigh, so that might be a consideration for petite people."
"I have been in love with this coat ever since I saw it a couple of years ago, but given it is £800, this is one of those items that I aspire to own at some point in my life," Spedding tells me of this Totême coat. "I had high hopes for it, but it more than lived up to expectations. The quality of the fabric is truly beautiful. It is so soft and isn't too heavy, so it moves amazingly as you walk. The oversized fit as well also makes it look so expensive. It's truly the most amazing coat I've ever tried on." Although she says it fits true to size, note that Emma is 5'6", and so petite people might need to get the length shortened.
6. River Island
"Before, I wasn't too keen on quilted-style jackets and coats, but because I keep seeing it everywhere I turn, the style has totally grown on me," Afolabi says of this River Island jacket. "I think this is the perfect piece to wear when you want to keep warm but don't want the burden of something heavy weighing down on you."
As for specific elements that make this feel special, she loves the contrast panelling, which adds some dimension to the jacket. When it comes to sizing, we think the more oversized, the better with this one.
7. 12 Storeez
I've been on the hunt for the perfect, classic, wool-cashmere coat for what feels like my whole lifetime, and ta-da: Here it is! If you don't know Russian brand 12 Storeez yet, then I would highly recommend checking it out. For elevated, grown-up, long-lasting wardrobe staples, this has become a go-to for many fashion editors. There are multiple iterations on this coat style—beige or camel, oversized, belted—but this one felt like the best fit on me. Some others swamped my 5'1'' frame, but this looked just right, and the slightly exaggerated kimono sleeves are a nice, modern addition.
It's the kind of style that never goes out of fashion and works with almost every outfit you fling it over. It felt cool and effortless and ever so lovely to touch!
"I only recently discovered Jakke, and after seeing its coats IRL, I couldn't believe how good its faux-fur offering was," says Montgomery. "I opted for the Rita in a statement-making shade of blue, as it feels like a more interesting and modern interpretation of the classic faux-fur coat—plus it's super cosy!"
She admits that she found this piece harder to style than she imagined, but that the moment it went on with white jeans, she knew she'd found a winner—it was the perfect fit. "I personally prefer to have just one OTT piece in an outfit, but you could also happily embrace the clash with brightly coloured separates," she says.
As for the vital details to know on this coat, first up, it's not as bulky as you'd imagine. "It's so unbelievably soft that my cat is permanently trying to make friends with it. It's also a lot lighter than you'd expect," Montgomery says. And so, if you want a more snug fit, she'd recommend sizing down, as this is designed to be oversized.
"The first thing that drew me to this coat was the colour. I loved the red check print and bright shade, something I definitely need to invest in more of for winter," says Anastasiou. "You can really tell this is a quality piece the minute you put it on. The coat feels really weighty and is also fully lined. Obviously, the unique print also makes this one a standout."
Her top tip for wearing this special coat? It's all about using it as a statement piece to wear with a more minimalistic outfit. And you'll be pleased to know the sizing seemed spot-on for her. Anastasiou is petite and wearing a size 6 here.
Anyone who knows me well understands well that my true passion for outfits lies in the '70s. So any chance to slip on a leather coat—and specifically a leather trench coat—and I'm there. This style was particularly prominent during that decade, but quality vintage versions can be hard to come by, especially in a range of sizes. I was intrigued when Hush launched a more premium line called Autumn Icons and that one of the central items was a brown leather, very sumptuous-looking trench coat. Surely it was too good to be true on the high street? Surely it would arrive at my house and look flimsy or cheap or be a horrible fit? How wrong I was. This coat is a dream to wear. A beautiful, flattering fit and amazing quality leather, it will be in my winter rotation for a long, long time to come.
I'd wear this with flares, jeans, midi dresses and over a tracksuit on super-casual days. It's supposed to graze below the knee, but on me, it was more of a midi length, and it is true to size if you want to have a little bit of room to layer knits.
"The moment I saw this coat online, I was instantly drawn to its dramatic proportions, textured fabric and '80s undertones. It felt like a rare meeting of timeless and trend-led," says Montgomery of this ultra-sophisticated style from Joseph. "You can tell this coat is high-quality from its sheer weight, and I bet it's something that will look good and keep its shape for many years to come."
Upon her recommendation, we'd suggest that you size down on this style and that the big proportions maybe too dramatic for anyone on the shorter side. But the good news is that once it's in your wardrobe, she thinks you can wear it with anything and everything—perfect.
12. Charlotte Simone
Trends come and go, but throughout my entire career in fashion, I have loved all things '70s and am always drawn to prints, colours and textures that nod to this decade. For that reason, I had to be the one in the team to take this Charlotte Simone fluffy beauty for a spin. The autumn collection was born in lockdown and is Charlotte imagining an endless summer, and so she has made her signature coats in bright colours and prints. As much as I was drawn to the clementine orange coat, I had to go for the suede tan jacket, as it would go with everything I own. What can I say? It's love. All Charlotte Simone coats are produced in limited quantites and have small-scale production, so you can't currently buy any on her website—you can, however, register your email to be alerted when the new collection launches on 25 November.
"This is one of those coats that you can wear every day, as the colour and pattern are very neutral. It is also oversized, meaning you can fit jumpers and many layers underneath," says Spedding of this ultra-versatile coat from sustainable and affordable brand Aligne. "I think my favourite detaila are the sloped shoulders and the ties on the wrist, and the way the sleeves feel quite loose on the arm, making it look more expensive," and there is no denying this looks more like an £800 coat than a £185 one.
Next up, see more winter coats we love.