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
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.
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.