They're the clothing you wear the most when it's cold outside, and they're one of the larger apparel investments that you'll make: They're your coats, and when you shop for outerwear, you'll want to know just what to look for. Here's what to look for when you're shopping for them, which ones you'll want to have in your closet, and which styles will be flattering on you.
Leather coats: For durability, leather can't be beat. For a chic look, choose a leather coat that is long or that fits closely to your body. For a more rugged look, shop for one made of distressed leather or one with fun details, like a hood.
Wool coats: Many women's coats are made of wool because it's warm and durable, and it doesn't absorb moisture very quickly. They're available in many styles and colors. Choose a neutral color if you need it to go with a lot of different colors in your wardrobe. Or if you wear a lot of neutral clothing every day, you can add a punch of color with something bright, like red.
Trench coats: You won't even mind the rain or wearing a raincoat when you have this outerwear classic in your closet. The belted waist on trench coats makes them flattering on any woman, and many women's trench coats have been treated to repel water.
Cotton coats: Many women's trench coats are made of cotton, and cotton coats in other styles can also work well in the rain. For extra protection from the elements, choose one that is at least thigh-length or knee-length.
Faux fur coats: For a luxurious feel, try soft faux fur coats. A faux fur coat in an animal print can give your evening outfit a classic, vintage-inspired look. For versatility, try solid black faux fur.
Wool blend coats: Wool coats always look classy, and a long style (at least knee-length) will look great over a dress. For a little bit more glamour, look for one with cashmere blended in to the fabric. If you're wearing a more casual look with flat shoes and a flowing skirt, you don't need to worry about your skirt being longer than your coat. However, if your look is more tailored -- like a pencil skirt and heels, for example -- you'll want your coat to be longer than your skirt to maintain the crisp look.
Suede coats: Suede coats and shearling coats can have the dressed-up feeling of leather coats, but the styles are often a bit more casual, making them a good coat to choose for weekend wear. Remember that water can stain suede, so you may not want to wear a suede coat in the rain or snow unless you apply a protective treatment first.
Parkas: Parkas often have a sporty feeling, a look that is perfect for the weekend. You'll see parkas in many different colors; you don't need to worry so much about coordinating colors when you're relaxing, so you can just choose one that you like. When you're considering the length to choose, remember that long women's coats will be warmer while shorter women's outerwear will feel the most casual. Consult our women's measurement guide to be sure you get the correct size, too.