The winter coat is the best thing about the frosty season and is without doubt the most important purchase you will make between now and March. Forget the Christmas day outfit with its one-wear destiny and the New Year’s ensemble doomed to the spillage of drinks. Your coat will be a permanent fixture for the next four to five months, and as far as first impressions go, it’s the outside that counts.

Selecting a new coat, then, is a very important business and getting it wrong can be catastrophic. Opinions will be formed while your frozen fingers are still working on the top button, with your coat characterising your entire existence. You may think I’m exaggerating, but does anyone know Red Riding Hood’s real name?

This season has seen the rise of the oversize, and the coat is no exception. Voluptuous coats dominated the runway and extra-roomy super snuggly styles are the next best thing to a winter blanket.

The oversized boyfriend coat is a huge trend that will carry on well into spring. After the boyfriend jean and the boyfriend blazer, it’s not surprising that outerwear would be the next garment we’d steal from the boys. The most evolved piece to come from boyfriend style, the coat emulates not only the loose fit but also the structured cut associated with men’s tailoring. Nonchalant and slightly too wide, you’d never actually find something so stylish in your boyfriend’s wardrobe, in fact, who even needs a boyfriend to keep you warm when you’ve got the coat? Wear with skinny jeans, slim cigarette pants or a pencil skirt to balance out any bulk and keep the look streamlined.

White Knitwear by Marc JacobsOnce the winter uniform of chav’s everywhere, the humble puffa coat has had a high end makeover this season. Everyone from Peter Pilotto to Giambattista Valli sent models down the runway in sophisticated puffa styles and never has the Michelin Man silhouette looked so good. The alpine-chic look is best kept minimal; a bracelet sleeve will elegantly expose the wrist and jacket collars should be left undone to expose a long neck. Belt your puffa at the waist for a more ladylike figure.

In fashion, you’re never 18 months away from a military revival, and the AW12 military coats do not disappoint. With the likes of Salvatore Ferragamo, Alexander McQueen and Marc by Marc Jacobs digging out the khaki greens and the brass buttons, a military cover-up will get you an instant promotion up the fashion ranks. Best approached with authenticity, the military coat is a sure fire way to stay on trend this season. Think lapels, pointed collars and epaulettes in traditional military hues for a sharp take on winter fashion. Speaking of Marc by Marc Jacobs, in the meantime (while you’re waiting for the military jacks to kick-in again) take a look at the knitwear I found on the Jules B site.

The minimalist coat is a super-sleek option that will go with the majority of your wardrobe and never date. Outerwear at its most luxurious, Haider Ackermann, Maison Martin Margiela and Jil Sander have championed the minimalist coat with collarless necks, batwing sleeves and cleverly concealed fastenings. Opt for sleek lines and straight silhouettes for a classic cover up that oozes chic sophistication.

Last but not least, no fashionista’s wardrobe is complete without the practical parka. The utility trend is huge for AW12 with, Altuzzara Alexander Wang, and Jason Wu (my favourite) favouring luxe versions of the parka in their fall ranges. The parka is the ultimate coat for keeping you warm and dry and is the best investment coat to see you through the seasons. Whether it’s the tried and tested khaki, classic black or this season’s burgundy favourite, the parka is a perfect mix of sensible and stylish.

The time has come to get layered up, belted and buttoned and take on the winter cold like a man/chav/soldier. You and your coat are going to be inseparable this winter – so make sure you find your cold weather best friend.

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