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Class Up Your Winter Look with These Timeless Coat Styles

Man wearing a stylish winter coat and scarf
javi_indy/Shutterstock

A nice winter coat isn’t just a practical necessity: It’s also a great way to upgrade your everyday winter wardrobe.

Since you wear your coat every day during this season, why not invest in one that will make a good impression anywhere you go? Even if you don’t care about fashion, a nice coat makes you look more put-together, which is a bonus in situations ranging from business trips to weekend dates.

There will always be trendy coat styles to choose from, but for this wardrobe staple, we suggest investing in something a little more classic. However, the range of available options can feel overwhelming. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.

The Best Coat Styles to Warm Up With

“Timeless” means something that’s not affected by fashion’s fickle seasonal changes.

Trends shift particularly fast in women’s fashion, which can leave women feeling especially tempted to reach for a trendy coat. However, men’s coat styles have also seen some shortlived trends. While trendy pieces can be a lot of fun, they don’t suit every situation well, and you might not love them as much in a few seasons. Plus, a coat that’s overly trendy or far out of date doesn’t make a great impression in some places, like work events.

So, whether or not you buy that edgy design, consider stocking your closet with one or two of these timeless coat styles for any gender.

Puffers

Many people associate puffer coats with practical outdoor use, like camping trips. This likely comes from the puffer coat’s origin: It was invented by notable outdoorsman Eddie Bauer in the 1930s.

However, the puffer coat also has a fashionable history. In the 1970s, designer Norma Kamali created a long puffer that she named the Sleeping Bag Coat. It quickly skyrocketed to the height of style, worn by countless celebrities and fashion icons in the decades since.

This mix of practicality and style makes a puffer coat an ideal, timeless investment. If you want to add a little personality, look for a fun color like red, or extras like a fur-trimmed hood. Long puffer coats tend to look a little fancier, while short ones lean more casual.

Peacoats

For a slightly more formal winter coat design, opt for a peacoat.

The history of the peacoat comes from the world’s navies. The original, heavy cloth used for many seafarer’s coats was called pilot cloth, or “p-cloth” for short. Eventually, the name became “peacoat.”

Today, these coats are typically made of thick wool. This material combined with the double-breasted design affords a lot of warmth, while also looking nice for nearly any occasion. Peacoats for both men and women come in a range of colors, but to keep things timeless, we recommend opting for classic navy blue or black.

Trench Coats

Woman walking down the street wearing a light-colored trench coat.
garetsworkshop/Shutterstock

The trench coat also has roots in military history. Although they weren’t actually worn for World War I’s trench warfare, trench coats were developed around the same time.

By the early 20th century, developments in weapons meant that soldiers needed uniforms that blended in with the background, rather than standing out in the bright colors of their army. Trench coats were lightweight, weather-resistant, and designed in drab, neutral colors to blend in with the trenches of the First World War.

However, ordinary soldiers in the trenches were never given these new, expensive trench coats. Instead, the coats ended up on high-ranking officers who could afford to buy the latest designs.

Today, trench coats no longer have an association with the military, and they come in a wide array of designs and colors for both men and women. Some, like the classic beige trench coat, look more old-fashioned and business-like, while others, like a gray wool trench coat, look more neutral and modern.

Denim Jackets

Although not typically as warm as the other options here, denim jackets are a timeless way to stay comfortable in transitional weather—and they’re also great for layering under a heavier coat.

(What’s the difference between a jacket and a coat? While the terms can be used interchangeably, a jacket is technically shorter, falling around the waist or hips, while a coat extends down to the thighs, knees, or even ankles.)

Denim jeans were invented by Levi Strauss in 1870. Just 10 years later, denim jackets followed, as the utilitarian material caught on among working men.

Today, the association with denim jeans and manual labor has been virtually lost: They’re a classic fashion staple for people of any gender. Denim jackets have followed the same path.

Just like jeans, denim jackets are best suited to more casual situations: They won’t fit in at a formal workplace, for example. But if you want an easy coat to throw on over your casual clothes, you can’t go wrong with denim. For added warmth, look for a sherpa-lined version.

Bomber Jackets

Like many of the others on this list, bomber jackets also started out as military wear.

As military jet designs advanced, so did the heights of the aircrafts, soaring into icy air. This called for jackets that were warm, yet lightweight and easy to move around in. Thus, the bomber jacket was born: a short, insulated style with an elastic collar made to accommodate a parachute harness.

These jackets, like lots of other military wear, were first adopted by civilian subcultures before going mainstream. Today, bomber jackets are one of the top timeless jacket styles for any gender. They come in nearly any color, pattern, and material you can think of, so you can easily find a trendy bomber design. However, to keep it timeless, opt for unadorned styles in practical colors like olive, burgundy, or black.


What you wear is one of the most obvious aspects of your personal expression, so make sure to choose a coat you like. If that coat happens to be more trendy than timeless, it’s your choice! But when it comes to an item you’ll wear every day in the winter, it often makes sense to choose a timeless design. On this list, you’ll find a classic coat style for almost any taste and budget—one that will look just as stylish for years to come.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a Seattle-based writer and editor with a Master's in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph's University. Her work has appeared in publications like Racked, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Rum Punch Press. She was awarded a 2017 Writing Between the Vines residency.  Read Full Bio »

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