What’s the best winter coat that isn’t a buff?

There’s no doubt that the puffer jacket has seen a major renaissance in recent years, partly because leather has fallen widely out of favor, and partly because Moncler has been so effective at reforming the previously shapeless jacket as a true fashion item. But there is also no doubt that, as you say, there are occasions that call for a different type of outerwear.

As stylish as it is, puffers still carry with them the smell of the slopes. And those whose happy places don’t include outdoor winter sports may feel like imposters wearing an item of clothing whose history seems to lead directly to snowfall.

The solution, said Jeremy Scott, Moschino’s creative director, is “an elegant ankle-length coat,” especially the kind once favored by the military, which seeks to keep the cold out during periods of long exposure. The key to catching the heat, she added, is to choose a double-breasted style.

After all, there is a reason why the coats favored by the British military during World War I were originally known as “British Warm”. With a double row of buttons and a high neck closure, the cut ensures maximum body protection and conveys a certain no-nonsense strength that works particularly well for both men and women. It is the fashion equivalent of putting power.

Greatcoats come at all levels of the price spectrum. But given that they’ve been the outerwear of choice for over a century – and the fact that, when it comes to manufacturing, you generally get what you pay for – they should be considered an investment purchase, which can be amortized over time.

While the original British coats came in Melton wool and had metal buttons, the style these days has become cross-pollinated with more generic coats, loosening the definition to include a variety of materials, colors, buttons and details (or the lack of them, for the more minimally inclined; epaulettes now optional).

At the very high end are classic British offerings from Belstaff and Harris Wharf, but also check out this multi-button style from Karen Millen or this one from Reformation. For those interested in looking for a bargain, there is jewelry that can be found at army/navy surplus store sites, as well as on eBay, Etsy, and end-of-season platforms like Yoox, which currently has a great choice Barbour. .for sale.

For the less purist among us, designer Sergio Hudson also suggests looking into faux sheepskin styles, like this coat from Banana Republic. “It’s very durable, you can dress them up or down, and they add a nice fashion sensibility to outerwear,” he said. And Mr. Hudson would know, since he designed the plum coat Michelle Obama wore to President Biden’s inauguration. It wasn’t a coat per se, but it was certainly a great one.

Each week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a fashion-related question from a reader, which you can submit to her at any time via e-mail or Twitter. Questions are edited and condensed.

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