How To Find a Winter Coat That’s Cute And Actually Warm

Winter is fast approaching, and while snow is kinda cool sometimes, nobody looks forward to wearing a huge jacket that makes you feel like you can’t move around without knocking over the person next to you on the train. Puffer jackets are warm and all, but resembling the Michelin Man isn’t exactly #outfitgoals.

We sat down with Carson Kressley, former star of “Queer Eye For the Straight Guy,” current New York stylist and author of “Does This Book Make My Butt Look Big?”, and talked with him about how you can find a winter coat that you’ll actually feel hot in.

First, he points out the importance of a coat.

“When you live in a cold climate like the Northeast, [outerwear is] something that you’re going to be wearing almost every day, if not every day, so it’s worth taking the time to find the right one,” Carson told us.

A jacket in the winter is the “work horse” of your wardrobe, so having a great one you can always depend on is crucial. Sure, something thinner from Patagonia or The North Face are convenient, but most of us don’t want something that every 16-year-old basic wears to the mall. 

When Carson is running out the door and needs protection from the cold with style, he reaches for a lightweight, nylon jacket. They’re super warm, very in right now (god bless this athleisure trend), versatile, plus “they’re a little more slimming and less bulky than some of the big puffer coats,” says Carson. Most of these jackets that are nylon also fold up into tiny balls or pouches, making it extra easy to fold them up and toss them in your bag, without the hassle of carrying around an extra layer all day.

But not all lightweight jackets are created equal, it’s all about the structure.

Carson says to look for something “filled with down, or a down alternative” and with “a channel kind of construction” to shield your body from the chill. Your best bet would be to try on the jacket, but if you’re shopping online, look for in the product info for the down or insulation. As for material, hefty ones like nylon, tweed, fleece, and faux fur are ideal.

You also want to consider something waterproof for snowy and slushy days. Nylon and polyester are both water resistant, but nylon makes for a better, warmer, and more workable jacket.

If you’re budget conscious but want a piece with longevity, Carson advises that you wait until about January or so to really invest in a winter jacket, because coats go on sale around this time at stores like Nordstrom.

If you’ve got extra money to spend and like a little variety, you could always buy an inexpensive piece from Forever 21, Zara, or H&M.

“They’re not necessarily super warm and they’re not what you need on a really cold or snowy day, but they’re fun to have in your wardrobe if you have the budget to do a backup coat that’s just pure fashion,” said Carson. 

But should you splurge on one item? Or buy a range that you can switch between? Carson says buying one classic piece is the best route for most people, because you can accessorize outfits around that one piece. 

We know it’s way more fun buying velvet mini dresses than winter coats, but it’s starting to get cold and you’re going to need one. It may take some work trying to find the perfect jacket for you, but with some inspiration and expertise, the sidewalk will be your runway in no time.

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