Vintage Brooks Brothers overcoat

Four Coats for Fall

It’s almost fall, although it might not feel like it–but it’s the perfect time to find pieces you’ll have forever at great prices. I have four coats that I wear when it’s cold outside, and all of them have been in my wardrobe for at least a decade.

Burberry Kensington Trench*

I’ve written extensively about this trench coat (notably here), which my mother purchased in 1983 or thereabouts. It’s nearly forty years old and you would never know it! (I just put that together the other day–it’s truly in pristine condition.) This coat is a testament to the longevity of good items if you take care of them. It’s truly a classic and I am sure it will last me decades to come.

Barbour jacket

I have four Barbours–two Beauforts, one Bedale, and one quilted jacket–and all of them have been put through the wringer. They’ve been worn in the city, in the country, in town, on archaeological sites, hiking, through the snow, in just about every situation you can imagine, and they still look wonderful. Barbours are an investment, but a worthwhile one. The Bedale that I favor is thirty years old and thanks to regular rewaxing, will easily go another thirty years.


A classic peacoat will take you from your teenage years well into adulthood. We found my black wool peacoat at Benetton in 2004, just before I started boarding school, and I’ve worn it every fall and winter since. For a new look, you can always replace the buttons on the coat. One of the most awful recent store closings, for me, was the permanent closure of the wonderful Tender Buttons, a gem of a store that will never be replaced. So now I’m off to track down another charming buttons-only shop to replace the buttons on this peacoat.

An overcoat

I wrote an ode to my mother’s overcoat in February and I stand by every word. Every woman should have an overcoat, but good ones seem not to exist. I promise that if I find a good one, I’ll share it!

2 thoughts on “Four Coats for Fall

  1. This list sure covers it! A versatile, goes-with-everything overcoat like the one you write so lovingly about, the one you inherited from your mother, is a piece to cherish and keep for life. I’m still searching for one. My dad gave me his old Burberry, which is obviously terrific, but it’s a size too big. I’m in my 40s and somehow manage to look like a kid wearing his dad’s coat when I put it on, alas.
    I might humbly add an additional recommendation here for J. Crew’s stadium cloth Cocoon Coat from their women’s line. While it’s a little mod-looking, it’s amazingly versatile, especially in a classic color like black, navy, camel, or light grey. The one I bought for my partner a couple of years ago is a perfect city coat. It’s easy to throw on and it looks smashing, I think. It seems to be a perennial offering at J. Crew, though they’ve only got a quilted version for early fall at present.

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! I’m sorry your father’s coat is a size too big, but it’s wonderful that you can still wear it and remember him.

      I do like the cocoon coat a lot–one of my best friends has one and it’s held up really well for a decade of regular use in Manhattan. I think it usually comes into stock in October, so hopefully readers who are interested will be able to snag one! Unfortunately, it makes me look like a marshmallow, so I would recommend it if you’re more than 5’3″, but not 5’3″ or under.

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