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Caroline Issa

Caroline Issa Styles: The forever coat

Looking for a winter coat, but not sure where to start? Enter Caroline Issa, chief 

executive and fashion director of Tank Magazine and outerwear aficionado on

 how to shop for a coat that you’ll wear and love forever. 

What is it about coats that mean my closet bursts at the seam with the many styles I can't

 help but invest in every season? Could it be the "walk-into-a-room-and-turn-heads" factor when 

you have a great coat on? Or is it that a coat is like celebratory wrapping paper, finishing any outfit 

perfectly and once off, revealing yet another layer of sartorial adventure? Whatever it is, know that I

 am a coat junkie and I'll happily experiment with different shapes, lengths and hues to really get me in the 

layering mood. There are too many great styles out there to settle for plain black or navy (though I'm not one 

to knock a classic), but I'd advise injecting some playfulness into your coat wardrobe, immediately, and 

building up the start of many beautiful relationships. Here are my top tips on how to invest in a coat wardrobe.

Don’t be afraid of colour

Don't shy away from bright, bold colours – the better to never lose you in a crowd! I love to play 

with jewel-toned hues, and Label/Mix's cherry red Grace & Oliver overcoat, with its clean and crisp tailored 

lines, means you can pop it over your shoulders with a flirty dress or jeans and a T-shirt. Either way, a bright coat 

is a simple way to add some drama to a winter outfit when everything else is grey.

Invest in a classic

Ah, the trench, one of the most versatile coats known to woman. You can knot it at the waist tightly, you can 

leave it open and draped, you can pull the collar up for some je ne sais quoi or belt it at the back for a narrow 

silhouette. The myriad ways you can wear a trench mean it will last you forever. But it's the details that make it your own.

 Pile on some brooches, or cuff up the sleeves to reveal a hidden detail, like the checked pattern on the trench from 

Mix/Rejina Pyo, all of which add a personal and modern touch to your coat.

Play with proportion

I think the reason why my coat wardrobe is so varied is because I love to wear different length coats with 

different outfits. I'll have a shorter pea coat that hits at the waist to wear with denim, or a longer trench 

coat to protect me from the elements, and an oversized biker that gives a tougher feel to an otherwise pretty outfit. I love 

the Mix/Isa Arfen oversized coat with detachable (fake) furry collar for its double-breasted elegance that pairs well with something

 more delicate and rich. Layering a looser proportion with a feminine or skinny silhouette is a fun way to play with shapes.

Focus on the details

Not all coats are equal. The devil is in the detail, as they say. Coats differentiate themselves by the little things – maybe 

it’s a leopard-print lining only the wearer can see, or large, polished horn buttons that bring character to a trench coat. Maybe

 it's a detachable furry collar in a contrast colour, or an embellishment strategically placed. Even something as simple as a 

statement wide, low-back belt makes a difference between a coat and a great coat.

Don't dismiss the transitional coat

The vagaries of our weather these days mean that you'll need to invest in coats with different weights so that you are 

prepared for not only those four-seasons-in-a-day moments, but the inevitable move into much colder days. 

The September/October coat is much lighter in weight and might not need to accommodate the bulkier layers of winter

 dressing. Autumnal coats can be layered wardrobe pieces, sitting on your shoulders like a biker jacket with a dress. Winter 

coats tend to be heavier in weight and more insulating to keep the winds and cold at bay, so play with colour, texture and length 

to invest in the right one for your style and occasion. 

Caroline's quick-fire Q&A

What's your nickname?

Care Bear - but only by those who knew me when I was 12 still call me that.

What's in your fridge?

Cheese, cheese and more cheese.

Favourite word?


Film you have seen more than five times?

The Princess Bride.

Best advice someone's given to you?

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

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