The Style Column

How (Not) To Buy A Winter Coat

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Beware the hazards of a new winter coat, says our style columnist Jeremy Langmead.

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Are you buying a new coat this autumn? I bet you are. And I bet you don’t really need one. I have quite a few coats, and this season I’ll probably be buying quite a few more.

Most of them will be little different from the ones I already own: the new Balmain peacoat I want is a little bit shorter than the one I already have, and the buttons are silver rather than gold. It’s all in the details.

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The big navy coat by the French label, Ami, that I want is bigger than the one I currently possess, and the lapels are a whole lot wider. Essential.

Why does a new coat always seem such a justifiable buy? Especially as, in this country at least, it never seems to get cold enough to wear a heavy coat that much (except in June and July, of course).

But that’s not really the point. A coat is the most obvious sign that you’ve mentally left summer behind and accepted that winter is on its way. It’s also the first thing people will notice you wearing when you walk into a room: a coat can make or break a first impression.

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So it’s the one thing you should invest in if you can’t afford much else for the new season. A smart new coat will make every outfit you wear underneath look fresh and on trend.

Each autumn, due to an embarrassing abundance of cold-weather clothes, I convince myself that I will be sensible and invest in onlya new coat. I don’t need a single other thing, I proclaim loudly to myself in the mirror.

But then I decide that, since my trousers will peep out from the bottom of my new coat, I should probably invest in a nice pair of coral cords from Michael Bastian. And darn, the way the coat closes at the top does actually mean my sweater will be slightly on display.

Bum. I’d better just buy one of those handsome cable-knit polonecks from Wooyoungmi. Bugger… of course last winter’s shoes now look horribly out of place. That will be a nice pair of tarnished suede paprika monk-straps from O’Keeffe then. What a kerfuffle.

Another barrier to overcome is that I no longer live alone. This is, in theory, a good thing.

However, my partner, for some insane reason, thinks I spend too much on clothes and, since we’re in the middle of buying a rather dilapidated house in the countryside, I need to save my money for plants, walking sticks, roadkill and all the other accessories you need if you’re pretending to love nature each weekend.

Unfortunately, what neither of us realised is that a draughty house in the middle of some fields necessitates various wardrobe items I don’t already own, such as a waxed-cotton field jacket by Private White VC, an oversized, thick belted-cardigan by Yves Saint Laurent and a blue corduroy jacket by Boglioli.

Brrr, I suspect it’s going to be mighty chilly 40 miles from the centre of London this autumn; just as well I’ll be prepared. The problem is, my partner doesn’t quite comprehend how well prepared I am.

I bought the items above last July — before we’d actually signed the contract for the house — and so, to avoid any unnecessary confrontations, I’ve kept these clothes hidden in a cupboard at the office.

A comforting fact is I’m not the only one here who has to hide purchases from his other half.

It turns out the buying director at Mr Porter is up to the same tricks. I was talking to him last week when the door of his cupboard slowly opened and a number of packages fell to the floor: these included a lovely black leather bomber jacket from Ami, and a denim jacket with a corduroy collar by the same designer.

Oh, and a Pirelli calendar (except I promised not to mention that). He has these hidden at the office until he can find a suitable time to smuggle them home unnoticed. He also has to work out how to wear them when he’s with his wife without her actually noticing — tricky.

So, I suppose the moral of my story is that if you want to indulge in rather more clothes than you need, or can afford, then there is no choice but to have no morals: you need to deceive your partner, upset your bank manager (thank God they don’t really exist any more) and deny your children a proper university education. If you think you can live with that you’re sorted. The good news is, I think I can.

Jeremy Langmead is the editor-in-chief of mrporter.com