The Fool Proof Cold-Weather Combo Anyone Can Wear 

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A double breasted option, via The Idle Man/Pinterest

Fall and Winter are often the favored seasons when it comes to clothing, for the simple reason that it’s an opportunity to wear more of it. Sometimes, simply adding your favorite jacket to a jeans-and-t-shirt outfit turns it into a capital-l Look, and the months of October through March offer ample opportunities to layer up (if you live somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere that has seasons, anyway). Occasionally, though, the embarrassment of riches that is Fall/Winter dressing makes it difficult to decide what to wear.

One of the simplest, most stylish ways to keep warm as the weather cools is by adding a tailored coat to your outerwear rotation. It may be hard to decide which to buy given that there are a great number of varieties, marketed under many names, all with different cuts and lengths. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the terminology has changed over time (a topcoat, for instance, used to be an exclusively lightweight option, but nowadays can be the heaviest coat in one’s closet). Whatever they’re marketed as, the most versatile coats share a few things in common. They hit at or above the knee, are single breasted, and usually have 3 buttons and a notch lapel. These styles are as easy to wear with a suit and proper dress shoes as they are over jeans and boots. While single-breasted styles have the most styling options, double breasted and peak lapel coats can be just as stylish and versatile, and add a slightly militaristic edge. Ultimately, what’s most important is finding one that suits your style. 

Despite its formal connotations, a tailored coat looks especially good paired with the king of casual knitwear: a hoodie. It’s an repeatable outfit that can be thrown on in a hurry, and in today’s casual climate it can make the wearer feel adequately dressed without being overdressed. That’s why high-low combinations work so well. Pairing casual items with formal items is a great way to create a go-anywhere outfit.

Combining tailoring with sportswear is one of the best ways to mix high-low influences. A heather gray sweatshirt under a suit makes the whole thing feel sophisticated and relaxed, for example. Even something as unusual as a pair of penny loafers with well-fitting sweatpants can be a winning combination. The crown jewel of the tailoring/sportswear mix is the coat-over-hoodie look. It’s both comfortable and sophisticated, and works with a variety of styles. Plus, the layered look is practical for transitioning weather or days when you’re frequently going inside and outside. It won’t save you if you live in a truly blisteringly cold climate, but it can be a warm alternative in a sea of puffer jackets. 

Hoodies have long since gone from something seen as uncouth to a regular, practical garment anyone can wear (they were banned in some places in the UK in 2006, a move that then-Prime-Minister David Cameron criticized in a speech that was dubbed “Hug a Hoodie”). The most popular option today is the pullover hoodie, which is typically a little warmer than its zipped counterpart. It’s also a bit more streetwear than American-Apparel-circa-2011 (which was great, don’t get me wrong).

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Eugene Tong mixing blacks, grays, and whites for a tonal look

The high-low ethos of a hoodie with a coat can be applied to other looks (and seasons) as well. One of the easiest ways to nail the sportswear-tailoring combination, and high-low combinations in general, is to mix the dressier and more casual elements throughout the outfit. A coat over a hoodie with tailored trousers and sneakers, for example, is easier to pull off than wearing a casual top half and formal bottom half (or vice versa). That’s because the more casual elements add a visual break from the formal items, and the formal elements do the same for the casual pieces. If each formal piece has a casual companion, it can bring the whole look together. If that seems too complicated to keep straight, don’t worry. Just invest in a coat and a few hoodies for a look that can be repeated throughout the week. Below, check out some hoodie/coat options.

More Inspiration

The brownish-red hoodie from Everlane goes well with the brown threads of the houndstooth Lanvin coat.

A black hoodie from Champion and a gray herringbone coat from J Crew creates a tonal look that’s both tough and sophisticated.

The definitive hoodie color and the definitive coat color work well together, these from H&M and Uniqlo, respectively. 

Throw caution to the wind and go for a bright pop of color under a more serious coat. Hoodie from Champion, coat from Sandro.

Another take on tonal. The “cargo khaki” hoodie from The North Face complements the beige stripes in the coat from Sandro.

For more fashion guides, check out our guide to accessorizing based on your personal style.