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Serious winters deserve seriously stylish cold-weather gear

The art of looking sleek – and staying warm

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Serious winters deserve seriously stylish cold-weather gear

February 05 2010
Lucia van der Post

Since our winters appear to be edging more towards the old-fashioned Dickensian variety, the matter of how to keep looking good while staying warm requires some serious attention. For many years we’ve been able to get by with fairly lightweight woollen coats. But this winter has given those of us who didn’t have proper cold-weather gear a bit of a wake-up call.

If you like a rustic look, you can turn to traditional outdoor gear such as Barbour, Holland & Holland and Deerhunter. But if you want to look sleek and stay warm, the label of the moment has to be Moncler, particularly its prestige Gamme Rouge range for women which, since 2008, has been designed by Giambattista Valli. Though its roots are in a sporty look (it’s to be found in most chic ski resorts) and it is most famous for down-filled jackets, often with fur-trimmed hoods, many of them look at home in sleek urban settings. Valli has slicked up the look this year with puffed-up shoulders and jewelled details around the collars. Though classic black is probably the easiest to wear, he’s also done them in powdery boudoir colours, soft greys and pastels. There’s also a men’s range, Gamme Bleu, by Thom Browne.

Since prices start from around £1,300, they should be looked on as serious investment buys. But remember: they can be hauled out of the cupboard every time the temperature falls or one wants to visit some of the world’s less hospitable climate zones. Matches boutiques stock them every winter but begin to run out towards the end of the season; at Harrods, however, there are two year-round Moncler boutiques. And this year Moncler opened its very own glamorous boutique on Sloane Street. (First picture, from left to right: Moncler’s Ludmila jacket, £6,435, Sophia jacket, £2,925 and Tanya coat, £1,851.)

The other fabulous arctic-weather gear is Woolrich, which has its roots in outdoorsy pioneering traditions but now produces some very sleek urban outdoor coats as well (Sarah Jessica Parker was famously photographed wearing its parka, second picure). It is very hard to track down. However, The Shop at Bluebird (whoever does the buying there has a brilliant eye) stocks three styles for women and two for men. It, too, relies on a combination of warm padding, fur for glamour and a beautiful cut for sleekness.

Their charm is that they’re warm enough on their own to slip on over a dress without the need for any other layers. The range currently in stock sells for about £400 a time but this year it will also be selling the more upscale line – Woolrich’s Woolen Mills coats. This is the line worn by many a fashion editor to cope with the freezing cold at New York’s fashion shows. If it works for them, it should work for you.