The Best Coats for Autumn and Winter-Vintage Style

Last updated on December 26th, 2023 at 07:38 pm

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The best coats for autumn and winter-vintage style. [Edit 2023-the timeless chic]

Do you love beauteous coats as much as I do but are unsure how to choose one or where to find luxurious outwear without breaking the bank?

If the answer is yes, this article is definitely for you, as my shopping-on-a-small-budget prowess is legendary!

The Best Coat for Autumn & Winter Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune

  • I paid $40 for a mint-condition Victorian cape.
  • Eight years ago, I bought a hat from 1954 for $20 because the shop where I bought it had it in a Halloween/Party bin. They had no idea it was vintage.
  • I found a luxurious coat with tags still attached to it for circa $90. I bought it second-hand. Imagine my surprise when I discovered upon delivery that the item was brand new!

If you are new to buying vintage, you should read the “How To Date Vintage Clothing?” article.

how to date vintage clothes
How to date vintage clothes!

And what better time to look for coats than autumn, my favourite season!

On the other hand, if money is no object, you lucky, lucky dame, you might get inspired to buy something from my Shop The Post selection as I found some incredible pieces, a real cat’s meow! And you also get to be the patron of the arts!

DISCLOSURE: As of October 2021, I’m part of an affiliate program, and I get a small commission for purchases made through links in this post. That’s how I keep my website alive, for which I’m very grateful to you. All opinions expressed here are mine! 

What Shall I Wear? Tips for Buying a Winter Coat

What Shall I Wear

When looking for that perfect coat for autumn and winter follow the advice that Claire McCardell gave her readers in the book What Shall I Wear? 1956.

Don’t make coat’s too basic. This remark may startle you-you have heard the opposite so many times. I can’t agree with the ‘one really good coat’ because I think you will get tired of it long before you have had your money’s worth out of it. (…) Think of coats as a year after year investment and I’m sure you will find real excitement and satisfaction in collecting them.

The Classic Long Trench Coat!

I will start the list with a trench coat as you can never go wrong with the classic among coats.

This particular style, is simple, understated, yet elegant and looks fantastic on everyone, regardless of body type.

You can buy it in a variety of colours and patterns, but if you are looking for your very first trench coat, go with beige or black. The waterproof cotton or wool gabardine will keep you out of the harmful rain ways and protect you from the wind. Some of the vintage trench coats come with a detachable warm lining. 

Where to Look for Vintage Coats

Where to look for a trench coat depends on your budget. I bought my very first 1980s Burberry coat 15 years ago on eBay. There was a bidding war at the time, which I won, and I ended up spending over £260. The price of a vintage Burberry coat only increases in value so, consider it an investment piece. 

  • If your nerves can’t handle the bidding game, look for trench coats with the buy-it-now option. 
  • When looking for vintage clothes, don’t limit your search to eBay only. Check listings on Etsy and vintage shops on Instagram, that’s where I buy most of my clothes. 
  • Make your life easier and use the GEM App to search for vintage dream pieces across different shopping platforms. That’s how I found my beautiful coat and the star of this article. I also set up an alert for 1940s CC41 clothes and lingerie, so that I don’t have to worry about missing any new listings. The app is a real-time-saver when shopping for vintage. The only negative side of the GEM app is that it’s very addictive, like a box of macaroons!

Vintage, Contemporary or Vintage-Inspired Coat?

If you can’t find your second-hand-dream coat or would prefer a spanking brand new piece, take a look at my Shop The Post at the bottom of this article, where I pulled some of the most beautiful coats from all over the net!

Burberry, Max Mara and Acne are my preferred brands for trench coats because of their superior quality. One word of advice, it would be unwise to experiment with buying a coat in an unfamiliar fabric, or you might regret the purchase later, as I had in the past. Stick to the classic cotton gabardine or wool.

Pictures ©Gregory Michael King

Stylish winter coats 2023

A classic 1980s Burberry coat is a wardrobe staple! The best coats for autumn and winter- vintage style!

I paired my vintage Burberry trench coat with Stuart Weitzman boots.

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Winter essentials for the vintage girl and beyond. I accessorised my Burberry coat with a faux fur hat, scarf and wrist warmers from Helen Moore.

The best coats for autumn and winter vintage style. Faux fur from Helen Moore.


The Short Trench Coat!

As much as I prefer long, even floor-length coats to short ones, I make an exception for a trench coat.

  • If this is your preferred style in coats, buy a long one in the first year and a short one the following year.
  • Make sure that your trench coats are in different colours, or you will get bored with them.

Fall Outfit Ideas Inspired by Princess Diana

Lady Juliet Pearson is wearing; a Betsy Johnson coat and a vintage hat. Moi wearing; a Burberry coat, a Hermes scarf and Jimmy Choo Wellies.

The Vintage Coat!

Nothing beats an original coat from the 1930s, 1940s or 1950s. It will differ in style and length depending on the era, but regardless if it’s a piece from the 1930s or the late 1950s, you can be sure that the coat will be a real show stopper.

Bold colours, plaid, trapunto embroidery and massive sleeves are the characteristics that I look for in every vintage coat.

If this is your first authentic vintage coat, predating the 1960s, go for something spectacular and dramatic!

Learn from the Queens of vintage coats pictured below. Follow them on Instagram to get inspired. @deathbydeco, @soft_hit and @kissesofthefemmefatale know how to buy and accessories their vintage outwear!

Best vintage coat for autumn and winter
Obsessed with Olivia @soft_hit and Sam @death_by_deco
vintage femme fatale
Stunning  vintage Femme Fatale
1940s winter coat
kissesofthefemmefatale bought both coats from @rebeccalsweeting

And here is one of the 1930s coats I bought this year. I often treat it as if it were a dress and you can see why!

vintage fashion blogger Dominique de Merteuil

And here is one of the 1930s coats I bought this year. I often treat it as if it were a dress and you can see why!

Picture by Gregory Michael King taken in Warsaw.

Find out more about The Perfect Weekend in Warsaw.


The Long Black Coat-Timeless Chic That Never Disappoints!

The long black wool coat is elegant and, at the same time, sexy. It’s an unequivocal winner if you want to look like a femme fatale or a glamorous puss.

I’ve been looking for the perfect Femme Fatale coat for the past seven years, and yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. I found one just the other month, or actually, it was the GEM App that found it for me.

You can set an alert for the things you are looking for, and the App will notify you when someone lists an item with a description matching yours. I bought my dream coat for £67 on eBay!

The long black wool coat looks great with flats, heels or even trainers! I paired my dream coat with loafers from my beloved SPITZ brand!

the best coats for autumn and winter
The Parisian chic! The best coats for autumn and winter-vintage style.
Best coats for autumn and winter-timeless chick
Second-hand woollen coat paired with Spitz loafers, red gloves and a vintage purse.

The Femme Fatale Style! Learn how to master the look.

Vintage style blogger Best coats for autumn and winter
Best coats for autumn and winter.

Parisian chic! How to dress vintage in winter.

Don’t forget about the perfect red lipstick!

best vintage-inspired red lipstick

vintage fashion influencer Dominique de Merteuil

Best coats for autumn and winter-vintage style!

The Stylish Cape is an Alternative to a Winter Coat

Not technically a coat, but since I have a strong predilection for a cape and find it to be the perfect alternative for any coat, I had to mention it.
Capes come in many fabrics and colours. I equally love them in velvet, silk or wool, depending on the occasion and weather. The plain ones look fabulous accessorised with an antique brooch, and the ones embellished with lace trimmings, beads or sequins don’t need anything else added.

You might choose a cape instead of a coat if you wear warm enough clothes that are too pretty to hide.

It’s up to your taste and budget if you opt for an antique, vintage or vintage-inspired coat or cape. The options are endless but always choose quality over quantity, and the piece will last you longer. On the other hand, it would be unwise to have only one coat or cape because regardless of the quality, you will wear it out if you wear it all the time.

Perfect Weekend in Krakow
I paired the original 1940s skirt suit with a vintage velvet cape, Wolford tights and a 1950s purse.
Victorian funeral cape

I paired the Victorian funeral cape with the 1958 Tricorne hat designed for the Life Peeresses when they enter the Parlament.

The boots I’m wearing in the picture are from Stuart Weitzman.

Elegant Retro Footwear for Autumn and Winter

Beautiful and very elegant retro shoes for autumn and winter.

Things You Should Consider Before You Buyin a Winter Coat

Before you click the “add to basket” button, ask yourself these questions:

  • Will it suit me? You could always go to a shop, try different coats in different styles to see how you look in them and look for something similar online.
  • Will I wear it more than once?
  • Is it warm enough?
  • Do I already have a similar coat in my closet? 
  • Do I LOVE it?

 Size Matters

I ALWAYS buy my coats one or two sizes too big as long as I can cinch them with a belt! Why? Because I wear 1940s suits with massive shoulders underneath the coat. 

Also, if you buy a coat a bit too big, you will look slimmer!

And Once You Find That Perfect Winter Coat, Let Me Help You With Finding The Perfect Winter Skin Care Product!

Best Molton Brown Products


What do you think?

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  • Maryk Short
    February 23, 2022

    I love vintage I am looking for a grey trench coat nearly ankle length.. In gabardine
    Can you advise me. I love your site.

    • Dominique de Merteuil
      February 27, 2022

      Thank you for your kind words!

      You haven’t specified if you are looking for a trench coat from the 1940s, the 1950s or perhaps the 1980s. A trench coat is one of the most sought-after pieces in the vintage community! My advice, follow the vintage shops I follow on Instagram. You will have a better chance of buying a trench coat from a vintage seller on Instagram than eBay or Etsy. Although, there are currently a few 1980s Burberry trench coats on Etsy.

  • Alison Cloonan
    January 1, 2022

    What a great post and loving the coats. We come across a fair few vintage Burberry trenchcoats. Also one of our other favourite brands include Daks and Aquascutum. Great Post.

    • Dominique de Merteuil
      January 1, 2022

      Vintage Burberry coats are great! I hate to say it, but the ones made in the 1980s are often of better quality than some of the new ones. Aquascutum used to be great!

  • Vera Kappeler
    November 12, 2021

    Dear Dominique,
    thank you and congratulations for another superb post!
    I can only repeat it how much I love your blog, your devoted research and your inspiring statements and magical impressions…
    That long black coat is unbelievably beautiful – and as if it had been made for you…
    I’m so glad for you that you found it!
    If I may ask you something about the fabric of that coat: Is it a special wool-mix?
    It “falls” so nicely… But of course it also must be the cut and details – not only the fabric.
    I wonder which era this coat might pay homage to… Maybe the 1930’s?
    Thank you again so much and best wishes *****

    • Dominique de Merteuil
      November 12, 2021

      Thank you Vera,
      Your comments always make my day!

      The coat, made of wool and mohair, is utter perfection and it only took me a decade to find it! 🙂

      And yes, the coat has definitely a 1930s vibe, in particular the collar, which is why I bought it in the first place. I thought about replacing the belt with a vintage one or buying an original 1930s buckle. Unfortunately, the belt that the coat came with is very wide and I struggle to find a big enough buckle.

      Once again, thank you for your lovely comment!

      • Vera Kappeler
        November 14, 2021

        …as your response has made my day – thank YOU so much, dear Dominique, for your kind lines and informations! I wish you good luck and fun with your search for a matching belt or buckle!!
        If I may ask you one last question about the fantastic look with the long coat:
        I’m also very fascinated by the detail on your seamed stocking around the ankle!
        I think that I’ve seen something like that before, but I can’t remember where exactly. If you would tell me the name of the stocking label (or is it a separate detail around the ankle?) that would be wonderful!
        Thank you once more and have some more beautiful autumn-days!

        • Dominique de Merteuil
          November 14, 2021

          Hi Vera,
          The detail around the ankle is part of the tights. I bought them from a Polish hosiery brand NOQ by Knittex. This particular model is called “Intense”.They are of very decent quality and believe it or not but they cost around $4! I’ve just checked and they still have them on the website but I’m not sure if they ship internationally. What you could do is type; Rajstopy (Polish word for tights) Intense NOQ in Google and see what other shops sell them. I’ve noticed that most online shops in Poland offer international shipping. Hope that helps!

          • Vera Kappeler
            November 15, 2021

            You are the best !!
            Warmest thanks for your efforts and generous tips!
            After some research I think, that the polish head-center is the only store where I can find those great stockings. I’ve contacted them to ask, if they would eventually ship to western countries. Now I’ll just wait and see… If it won’t work it’s only half as bad 🙂
            Have a fine week***

            • Dominique de Merteuil
              November 15, 2021

              I’ve been toying with the idea of having my own line of stockings and tight. Hmmm, should I, shouldn’t I?

  • Susana
    October 29, 2021

    What a beautiful post! I can’t believe that you found that black coat for $92. I wish I had that much luck in sourcing clothes I like for a bargain price. Love your recommended list of coats and capes. The Alexander McQueen cape is a dream. I only wish I could afford them.