Beat the chill and look the part…

Alas, it is officially cold. The heating in our student household has eventually been switched on, we’re indulging in copious amounts of coffee in an attempt to warm the cockles and, sadly, the library is experiencing booming business as being probably the hottest building in St Andrews (temperature sense only). Yet we’re still complaining.

My solution? Man up and wrap up. Yes, with deadlines and the inevitable December exams looming, you could argue student debt isn’t really on the wish-list. But in these bleak times, let’s allow ourselves to indulge just a little. Instead of forking out for that over-priced here’s-your-measly-free-glass-of-cava ball ticket, grab your keys and head downtown (or in St Andrews’ case, up the travelator), dig out the last of the student loan, and make your best fashion investment of the season, guaranteed to pay you back in warmth.

Why the vigorous tone I hear you ask? Well, it all began when recently I had the misfortune of being a victim of a frankly, criminal act. A couple of weeks ago my cherished Zara, sheep-skin lined, leather coat was snatched on a night out. Ok, maybe I over-exaggerated with the ‘criminal act’ and maybe the moral of the story is, not so much ‘don’t nick someone’s stuff’ as ‘don’t leave your belongings scattered upon the sticky floor of Venue 1’, but the fact still remains true; that was a perfect winter coat and lord do I sorely miss it.

(By the way, seeing as I’m on the subject, thought I’d just spam my own article with a warning to the culprit: if she (or he?  Might be a snug fit, but possible…) happens to be reading this, St Andrews is a small place. If you were ever to be so foolish as to wear your new absolute bargain, and I see you smugly strolling down one of these three streets, then I will not hesitate to re-claim what is rightfully mine. Watch yer back pal…)

…aaaaaand we’re back again. Phew.

Take a look at the high street shops these days and there’s a lot out there; all sorts of shades and shapes to choose from. This is why you must be selective – a decent coat can be expensive, and you want something which will see you through the next six months or so (who knows how long the ice age shall last this year.) So, best to know what you’re after before you set out, but remember that one style may not suit all.

If it’s comfort you’re searching for, you could go for the ‘cosy coat’ – duffels, that sort of thing. A sensible choice, they create a retro school uniform, ‘oh, you’ll grow into it’ sort-of-look. Quirky and somewhat hipster, but be wary of looking like a pre-pubescent boy. Another classic example is the parka, but again, this comes with perhaps some Liam Gallagher association side effects…

Moving up the social ladder, we come to the double-breasted, woolly lads. A rather varied category it’s hard to pick just one style, but whilst oot and aboot I’ve noticed military-style coats are making a comeback. Usually produced in dark, moody colours such as khaki or navy, these coats are perfect for making a bland outfit a little edgier. Team it with biker boots to accentuate this combat look (don’t go too overboard however, unless you’re seeking that Trench warfare look…whatever floats your boat).

The most popular winter-wear at the moment appears to be biker coats – from leather (*sob*) to a more upmarket tweed, there is a wide range on offer. Leather does not provide much warmth, so aim for a good fur or sheep-skinned lined one as an effective wind-breaker in this stormy town. We all know real leather is not only dear, as well as quite uncomfortable and stiff, but at the moment there are some pretty decent knock-offs on the market, have a look in H&M for example. But be careful of buying too cheap and you may end up achieving the dreaded bin-bag look. Anyway, an iconic little number, oozing retro Americana cool, this is perfect for nights out or drinks (although I wouldn’t recommend taking it to the union).

If the leather look isn’t quite to your taste, suede sheepskin coats are a more subtle alternative and come in a less harsh range of camel/brown shades – very autumnal and very cosy.

At the top, sitting smug and proud over its subordinates, the crème de la crème of coats – FUR. A bold statement yes, but a real indulgence. Definitely not weather-proof, but great for special occasions. Faux or real, there isn’t really much in it except for the price, and personally I’m more than happy with my charity shop faux fur find. They’re hefty and bulky but undeniably timeless and will last you a lifetime.

Of course, there are dozens of other styles out there; I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg in this article. If you’re not fancying any of the coats mentioned, why not try boyfriend coats, collarless coats, cocoon coats, cape coats…the list goes on and on. Also, don’t be afraid to buy a colourful coat. A bit of colour never hurt anyone and you will contrast nicely with the snow. Same goes with pattern – dogtooth, herringbone etc. Go mental, I DARE YOU.

At the end of it all, the best and wisest thing to do is to have a browse. We’re limited in shops in this town but we’re not trapped – why not throw caution to the wind and hop on a bus to Dundee one day for a change of shopping scenery? Or, for the faint-of-heart, go for a rummage in the South Street charity shops – you can find some absolute gems in there, as well as having the excuse to call it ‘vintage’ if you like. It’s all the rage I hear.

So, come all ye – for quality and warmth you can depend on, vote for coats.

Winter is coming.


Tessa Ewart

Image from Zara