The return of fall each year brings football, leaf-raking duty, another chance to finally get that perfect couple's Halloween costume right, and – of course – coats.
Let's face it: After a few months mostly defined by shorts and tee-shirts, many of us are ready to get back into the layering game once the sun has set on Labor Day Weekend. But for all the joy a return to proper layering inspires, it can bring indecision as well, begging that age-old question: what kind of coat will best match your fall style? Because we strive to be helpful, we'll make the respective cases for fleece, wool, raincoat and windbreakers below.
Who doesn't love a good fleece jacket? Since appearing in the last century, this cozy synthetic layer has become synonymous with leaf-strewn forest floors and toasty mugs of hot cocoa. From hayrides to early ski weekends, this outerwear jacket has a knack for showing up in our favorite fall activities. Today's fleece is becoming a great indoor/outdoor option thanks to the beauty that is sweater fleece. This fleece has a more structured look, but is so incredibly soft. It makes a beautiful jacket outside and a gorgeous layer inside when the weather really turns.
Considering its synthetic origins, fleece will always run on the casual side of things. That essentially casual nature, coupled with its pull-on ease, makes it a great choice for those living a more active style.
It's not all utilitarian, however. Depending on what other items it's being paired with, a fleece coat can evoke different styles and times. Wear it with a pair of leggings and comfy trainers to embrace a sporty look at home on the West Coast or the Rocky Mountains. Match it to a cozy turtleneck, a pair of chinos and well-worn loafers or all-weather mocs, and you're evoking a more casual and outdoorsy cousin of New England preppy.
Wool coats fall on the more formal end of the spectrum, and grow increasingly more formal with length. That inherent formality, coupled with the cut of a wool coat, allows it to fall more easily over tailored clothing. Which isn't to say that all wool coats must be reserved for formal wear. A shorter length wool coat is easy to slip over a chunky sweater and a pair of khakis. A wool coat also gives an edge to classic outfits like a favorite pair of worn-in jeans and a flannel tunic shirt.
It may seem like the raincoat is tied closer to utility than style: the intended scenario for its wear is right there in the name. But any piece of clothing, no matter how practical it may appear on the surface, ultimately expresses a style.
Even medium-length, plain front raincoats can be styled by pairing them with jeans tucked into high rubber boots – a classic rainy day look. But you can expect a little extra style from trench-style raincoats cinched by a belt closure. Trench coats tap into the enduring appeal of noir movies and their mysterious, occasionally sulky, but always stylish protagonists.
Like any of the other sportswear pieces that defined '90s style, the humble windbreaker has been enjoying something of a revival lately. Could it be the casual hip-length that helps it blend into the background of virtually any look? Or maybe it's the sporty appeal of a bright color clashing against a bright white zipper.
For whatever reason you find yourself zipping into a wind breaker (and there are plenty, considering that some are even waterproof or packable) you can rest assured that you've got a casual, versatile piece of outerwear on your hands. Make the most of its timeless athletic appeal by wearing with other sporty items like polo shirts and tennis sneakers.