Remember that thing your dad used to say, about how there’s no such thing as being cold, only bad clothing? Turns out, it’s true. Enter: the best men’s winter coats. We’re well into the depths of winter at this point, and if you’re still complaining about feeling cold all the time, it probably means one thing: You need a better coat. Thankfully, your old pals at GQ are here to get you sorted with the best men’s winter coats 2021 has to offer. Whether you’re after an uber-practical puffer or a lush and luxurious topcoat, we’ve got the right stuff to keep you toasty and dry from now through March (or April…or May…depending on where you live [*sighs fitfully*]). Here are a dozen essential outerwear styles—and the best versions of each to buy right now.
The Puffer Jacket
A great puffer means utility, sure—it’s the jacket you’ll reach for on the crappiest, bone-chilling-est days of winter. But that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your style to wear one. Beyond the sleeping-bag-like coats of your youth, there’s a whole universe of sleek and shapely puffers out there for the taking. Whether you take your cues from A$AP Rocky’s streetwear vibe or George Costanza’s normcore aesthetic is entirely up to you.
The Trench Coat
Given that they were originally designed to keep British army officers warm and dry in the dark, dank trenches of World War I (hence the name), we’re pretty sure these classic coats will be able to handle most anything a wet February day in the city might throw your way. These days, trench coats come in an endless range of cuts and fabrics—single or double-breasted? Belted or not? Cotton gabardine or Gore-Tex?—but the end result is always the same: you’ll look elegant as hell in one, whether it’s tossed on over a suit or a simple tee and jeans.
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. The list goes on forever. Each of those distinct styles varies slightly, but they’re 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.
The Duffle Coat
Beloved by generations of great Brits—from Winston Churchill to Paddington Bear—the duffle coat, with its heavy melton body and charming toggle closures, feels more relevant right now than it has in ages. Lean into its preppy energy by layering one over a chunky turtleneck and some horsebit loafers, or go full Raf Simons FW11 by wearing one with with your biggest, leather-iest pants.
You probably owned a great surplus store parka in high school, and the appeal remains the same: they’re big, they’re tough, they look killer with everything from thrashed jeans and boots to flannel trousers and brogues to cargoes and trail runners.
The peacoat has all the necessary hallmarks of a menswear staple: initially designed for the military (the US Navy, to precise) and once worn (devilishly well) by Steve McQueen. Try one with some slim jeans (a little flare optional!), beat-up boots, and the collar popped to maximize the ’70s Robert Redford energy.
The Car Coat
No driver’s license necessary. Car coats, known for their long and drapey silhouettes, are the perfect medium for bringing some texture and flow to your winter ensembles.
The Camel Coat
There’s something instantly elevating about a perfect camel coat. They’ve been around for over a century at this point, but that golden tan tone still stands apart when you step out into a sea of dowdy black and gray overcoats. It’s sophisticated, it’s striking, it works with every skin tone. And it’s high time you tried one yourself.
If you’re smarter than we are and live somewhere with temperate climes all year long, then, first off: Why are you reading this article? And secondly, you can probably get away with a nice light raincoat. Here are a few worth considering, you lucky bastard.
The Flight Jacket
As far as trends go, bomber jackets have tumbled a fair bit from their mid-2010s height. If you ask us, that’s a great thing: these jackets are as authentic and timeless as it gets, and they’re all the more appealing when every third goober at the bar isn’t wearing one. And considering they were originally intended to keep pilots from freezing at high altitudes, the genuine articles pack in a fair bit more heat than they generally get credit for.
The Fleece Jacket
Fleece jackets aren’t blowing up on your Instagram feed just because they’re cute and cozy. There’s real utility to the fluffy stuff: when Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard first began making clothing from the stuff in the ‘70s, it was because he was enamored by its combination of durability, lightness, warmth, and washability. 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.
The Waxed Jacket
Longtime fans of The Crown, this one’s for you. Waxed cotton hunting jackets, long beloved by British royalty and Brooklyn coolguys alike, are like raw denim jeans for your torso: the longer and harder you wear them, the better they look. And given that they’re hardy enough to keep you safe and sound from the elements and re-waxable ad infinitum, we guarantee you’ll be wearing yours for a very, very long time.