Everyone needs a coat at some point in their life, be it to keep warm when outside, or to add the finishing touch to an evening outfit. Jumpers are a bit less 'must have', as it will largely depend on the climate where you live and how warm you personally run as to whether you will consider them a necessary part of your wardrobe. Nevertheless, jumpers is where I'm going to start.
So, 'jumper' covers a whole spectrum of styles, from cardigans to roll necks. One thing to consider with all of them is what they are made of. As lovely as wool is, if you have an allergy to it or it makes you itch, it will never be fun to wear. Stick to viscose or cotton knits that can replicate the feel of good wool without the itch factor. If you do want to wear wool, look for soft knits and silk weave wools that don't have exposed hairs. I think it is quite difficult to buy jumpers online, I need to be able to touch them and try them on. Also, the washing instructions are really, really important to observe with wool, so bear that in mind when buying jumpers - wool often requires hand washing!!
Jumpers cover pullovers and cardigans. Cardigans do not have to be the frumpy clothing choice of your grandmother; they can be chic, stylish and sexy. The key is getting the correct cut and style for your body shape. I like cropped cardigans that drape nicely over vests and t-shirts. I'm tall so I have to be careful that the sleeves are long enough, otherwise they end up looking like I accidentally washed my clothes in a hot wash, and I never ever wear cropped cardigans with short trousers! Look for interesting details on cardigans to ensure that they don't become too boring. Cardigans, particularly bolero types, are very useful for evening wear as an alternative to a jacket.
Speaking of which, even if you don't need a coat or jacket for practical reasons (i.e. keeping warm), they do really finish an outfit off. The key is getting the right sort for the the right outfit. I'd say at the very minimum a dressy jacket and something more casual is essential.
A dress jacket will typically be something in a lighter fabric, possibly more decorative. It may or may not offer anything useful in terms of protection from the elements or the cold, but it will look nice! I personally have a lovely short fitted jacket made from velvet with a massive drape collar and a hook and eye fastening. It isn't warm in the slightest. But it looks great!
Here are a few jackets that fit the bill for evening/dress wear.
For day, leather is the perfect solution. It is pretty warm, especially when layered up (I've been wearing my leather jacket every day but it is still a bit too warm), it is hard wearing, and most importantly of course, it looks tough! Leather coats come in a variety of styles, so pick one that suits you and your lifestyle. Leather can be expensive, but it is an investment. The right leather jacket will serve you well and will last a long long time.
Finally coats. For those of us in climates where the weather can hover around 0 degrees, a warm, woollen coat is almost a requirement (I did one winter without one and I survived but it wasn't that pleasant!). There are loads of different styles, so there will be something out there to suit you. My personal preference is single breasted, button to the neck, medium collar and 3/4 length. I had a full length wool coat a few years ago and it was lovely and swishy (and amazingly gothic) but I always struggled when I went to the pub! Where you do hang a full length coat? So 3/4 length for me is always better, long enough to cover all the joins in my clothing, but not so long that it is a problem when out and about.
Here are a few coats to whet your appetite:
Some of these are quite plain but basics need to be just that, basic. You can dress them up with accessories, or even customise them yourself. Next week I'll be looking at trousers.