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Your mom was right: on days like this, you really do need a good winter coat. With all due respect to your long-suffering mother, though, we’d like to add a caveat to her sage counsel—what you actually need is a rotation of winter coats, plural, a roster of blizzard-busting outerwear you can reliably count on to keep you from freezing your ass off when the mercury plunges to Subarctic levels. So if you’re still out here shivering in your shell jackets, you’re in luck: the latest episode of the GQ Recommends Show is a font of coat-related information, jam-packed with useful tidbits, practical how-tos, and plenty of styling tips from the experts—namely, us.
Here’s the catch: there are a lot of coats to choose from. So to help you out, we whittled down the genre into three key categories you should familiarize yourself with before smashing that buy button—and then rounded up a few excellent options from the biggest names in the biz. Keep scrolling to see how your collection stacks up, and browse a few of our all-time favorite winter coats below.
Watch The GQ Recommends Show: The 3 Coats You Need to Survive Winter
1. Puffer Jackets
A great puffer means utility, sure—it’s the jacket you’ll reach for on the crappiest, bone-chilling-est days of winter. (They can be stuffed with real deal goose down filling or synthetic insulation like Primaloft, which puts your bare skin a good distance away from the biting cold and helps retain body heat.) But technical bona fides aside, a puffer jacket shouldn’t compromise your style in the name of function. Beyond the sleeping-bag-like coats of your youth, there’s a whole universe of sleek and shapely puffers out there for the coldest of times—whether you take your cues from A$AP Rocky’s streetwear vibe or George Costanza’s normcore aesthetic is entirely up to you.
You know that tired chestnut about the Inuit supposedly having 50 words for snow? (Apparently, it’s true.) That’s sort of the deal with topcoats. Call ‘em an overcoat or a great coat, a balmacaan or a chesterfield, but each of those styles are bound by a common denominator: they’re long and tailored from a warm, dense fabric—generally wool or cashmere—and will keep you looking and feeling all-business in the face of chilly temps. Toss one over a hoodie or even a suit, or when the weather is somewhat mild, over a T-shirt and jeans like you’re dashing from gate to gate at LAX.
3. Fleece Jackets
Fleece jackets aren’t blowing up on your Instagram feed just because they’re cute and cozy (for the record, they are cute and cozy). There’s real utility to the fluffy stuff: when Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard first began making clothing from the fabric in the ‘70s, it was because he was enamored by its combination of durability, lightness, warmth, and washability. (They’re like the Wool Coat 2.0.) And who wants to go through the hassle of taking their wool coat to the cleaners, anyway? You can layer it over a hoodie in the city or under a shell jacket on a snowy trail, and it’ll never steer you wrong. And, yeah, they’re pretty darn cute, too.