I’m doing a closet/wardrobe review this January and decided to start with winter outerwear (Angie’s idea, and a good one.) I did not plan it this way, but as I’m writing this we’re getting the first significant snow in about 2 years. We’ll have a foot where I am (central Massachusetts) by the end of today. It’s the best possible type of snow, light and fluffy, not so hard to shovel and plow, good for sledding and snow angels, winter-wonderland fairyland! However the temps are going to drop severely this evening so that will create icy nastiness, and we're getting another storm later this week of lots of rain which is going to melt everything and cause flooding ... ugh!

How Many Coats to Have, Color, Style

My climate is hugely varied, with quite a bit of precipitation year-round. With all the wardrobe rigmarole it takes to get through a cold snowy winter (putting on/taking off hats & scarves, wearing boots and then shoes indoors ... those of you who live in cold climates know what I’m talking about), I think I would prefer a small selection of carefully chosen pieces, like what city dwellers do in their small living spaces. Simplify the choices to balance all the effort required. Maybe all neutrals. Not feeling the urge for a bright color at the moment. In the coldest part of winter I only care about staying warm and a big old black puffer below-knee coat does that in my world. I like a bit of figure flattery but warmth and practicality take center stage in winter and bulky coats are just fine. Overall I'm ok with this part of my wardrobe being totally classic but I'd like it to look current.

The Practical Realities at Retail

There are lots of options for winter outerwear, but for my body size/shape I generally need petite sizes. (A person as short as me who
wears tiny sizes might find the regular sizes can work). Alterations can work but for example puffer coats with a knit inside cuff don’t lend themselves to sleeve alterations. The warmest puffers are always warmer than any woven coat in my experience. Also, not that I’m a
slave to fitting in, but I almost never see any women (or men) in wool overcoats in deep winter and that's been true for many years even in the last part of my corporate days… it’s all about the puffer and mostly black ones in my neck of the woods.

Petite sizing limits my brand possibilities quite dramatically, which limits the styles too; for puffers it’s either the “big 3” sporty brands LLBean, LandsEnd, and EddieBauer, or few dept store brands like Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein. I occasionally try regular sizes in stores but they rarely fit right. The “big 3” have the warmest options, and dept store choices are usually more figure flattering (although the big 3 are getting better at that). I do go for a little body shaping rather than a boxy shape. I have all the“big 3” AND dept stores near me, but they typically have just one petite puffer style in just one color, or none at all, so online we go. Puffer choices start being available online around October and by January 1 they are extremely limited in petite sizes (I've been watching this cycle for a few years.)

What I plan to do

I am planning to do a serious review of color in my wardrobe. I'm still considering having a professional color analysis. I won’t be surprised if I
end up where I am but think the process could be enlightening.

If I want the largest variety of choices I'll have to wait until next Oct to do a refresh. Maybe I'll have a bit of luck in the next few months but I'm not going to put much effort into it.

A winter refresh might look like one new "regular winter" puffer coat, one new waterproof coat with removable lining, and one wool coat in a more current style. And then retire quite a few. Maybe by Oct the Aritizia that’s supposedly coming to a nearby mall will be open and I can go there for try-ons since they don't do petite sizes. I've visited the one in Boston (3-hour round trip) a couple of times and love their clothes and they do have great winter coats.

What I have now

Mostly older piece, all dark colors. Functional but not too inspiring. 3 categories: 1) “heavy armour” for temps well below freezing 2) “regular” days in the 30sF 3) warmer days in the 40s.

”heavy armour”

  • (P) Eddie Bauer black puffer coat. Very warm, well made, zipper opens at top/bottom, all the usual great features I want in this type of coat.

Regular winter

  • (P) London Fog raspberry puffer coat. I get lots of complements on this coat especially the color. Not as warm as it looks, the fill seems to have lost some of it’s bulk.
  • (P) Lands End black thigh length puffer. Maybe 6 – 8 years old and a bit big. I mostly wear this for morning walks where I wear it over other layers.
  • Obermeyer grey teddy coat. This is the only coat I’ve bought in the last 3 years. Fun and warmer than it looks.

For 40s F

  • Guess Grey/blue puffer jacket. LOVE this, but too short for the coldest winter days. I really notice he difference between a short jacket and a longer coat in terms of warmth
  • (P) Ann Klein black knee length overcoat. Bought to wear to funerals. Don't wear much because it's a bit too clasic and maybe a little boring and funerals have become more casual where a black coat is not really a necessity.
  • (P) Eddie Bauer black waterproof raincoat with removable quilted lining. Total workhorse for the hard rains we get year round. It’s often my choice for travel when I want only one coat. Not the most flattering style but ok.
  • Two H&M overcoats, camel/brown & grey herringbone. When I bought them just before Covid (I think) I found them classy and elegant. With the ongoing casualization of fashion since covid they now feel a bit severe and formal. Quite inexpensive so the linings are looking worn. The combination of lapel width, waist snaps and tie belt make the upper front gape and bunch up, and I am constantly fiddling with everything. Awkward. I’ve lost some weight so maybe a fit issue. I’ve already tried moving the snaps. I don't plan to buy this style again - would prefer single buttons down the front and perhaps no tie belt.

...and a few vests I can add for more warmth

  • (P) LLBean in cream and light grey
  • (P) LandsEnd Puffer vest in ivory
  • (P) Bernardo black puffer vest (sadly it seems this brand no longer makes petites)

If you've hung in there, thanks for reading! Would love any feedbak or suggestions as always!