Choosing a Winter Jacket

By Juliana Day

The chill is on! The air is nippy, the sidewalks are slippery and you are rummaging through the box in your hall closet, desperately trying to match your mismatched gloves. This is also the time of year that many stores are featuring mid-season sales, and it's a great time to invest in an outdoor winter ensemble.

Purchasing outerwear can be one of the most frustrating and time consuming shopping experiences. Here are some practical tips that will help you make the right choice for you.

1. Be Practical

You may have a cute pair of red leather boots, but don't blow your budget on the adorable matching jacket - you will regret it when trying to cover a fuchsia party dress. A black jacket is by far your best investment choice. Depending on what color boots you wear most, brown and camel are also good choices.

2. Do Not Sacrifice Good Tailoring for Price

Choose a jacket that looks good on you! That may seem obvious, but many people are walking around in "getting by" jackets that are boxy and frumpy. Go for something fitted in the shoulders, and also in the waist if it a three-quarter length or longer. To ensure the right size through the shoulders, shrug a few times with the jacket on; if you don't have full range of motion, it's too tight.

3. Ditch the Ski Jacket

Unless, of course, you ARE a skier or snowboarder, and that's what you're looking for. When looking for a practical winter jacket, always opt for a more formal version. Otherwise you will find yourself embarrassed when attending dressy events.

4. Choose a Classic Style

A good look for anyone is the nice wool or wool blended, solid colored three-quarter length coat. For the fuller figured woman, a coat with a slight tapering at the waist is flattering. This type of jacket serves a multitude of functions from dressy to casual. You will find it a versatile style year after year.

If you are petite, try a pea-coat. These don't work well for larger figured women because of the double-breasted style, but they look really cute on a slim figure. Just remember: if you choose these type of coats, invest in a good drycleaner at least once each season.

5. Avoid Showy or Ultra-trendy Edges

The classic wool collar works best. If you simply must have that leopard-skin, be sure it is removable, so the same jacket will work in an anti-faux-fur environment. Also, a great option for spicing up a solid coat is to buy your accessories in a more outrageous style. These are easier and far less expensive than replacing a jacket.

Winter jackets are a big investment, but well worth the time and money to ensure the right selection.

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