O is for Outerwear


Outerwear – those pieces that you wear over the top of your clothes.  Jackets, cardigans and coats – depending on the season and climate.

For much of the year in Melbourne, where I live, the climate is temperate and a cardigan or jacket is enough outerwear.  

O is for outerwear - Imogen Lamport's A-Z of Style - how to choose coats

But there are times of the year when you need a coat to keep out the cold winds!

How to Choose a Coat Colour

If you are someone who wants only one coat then look for a coat in a colour similar to your hair colour.  This is called a hair enhancer and as we always wear our hair, then a coat in a similar colour will work with whatever you’re wearing it with.  It’s the easiest colour to choose!   By choosing a colour that blends well with your hair colour, your coat will automatically be in your ideal value and so compliment your appearance.

Choosing a Coat Colour - Choose the colour of your hair

Alternatively, if you want a coat that isn’t in a neutral colour, consider a colour that is opposite to your hair colour – this is called a hair intensifier.

  • Blonde – violet or purple
  • Brunette – Blue
  • Auburn – Green

Choosing a Coat Colour - Complementary colours

Another option is to go with an eye-enhancing colour – find out more about them here. (And if you’d like me to select your signature eye enhancers, I do this as part of my 7 Steps to Style program).

O is for Outerwear - how to choose the colour of your coats

Here are 4 things you need to know before you buy a winter coat as these can be quite an investment.  

Plus my tips on finding a flattering coat length.

When You Don’t Need a Coat

Jackets are a great way of adding that 3rd piece.  Their structure and design can cover what lies beneath.  Waistcoats are another 3rd piece option.  You can also express your personality through your jackets.

Here are more tips on finding a flattering jacket to work with your features.

How to Choose a Flattering Cardigan

Real World Relaxed Style – Jeans and a Cardigan

How to Build a Wardrobe of the Right Neutral Basics For You

How to Style a Waterfall Cardigan

How to Wear Cardigans for Your Body Shape

Tips for How to Choose a Winter Coat

O is for Outerwear - Imogen Lamport's A-Z of Style - Coats, Jackets and Cardigans


I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • very interesting post. I have to say that even though I have mid-brown hair (my colouring is cool, bright and deep) black coats/cardigans suit me miles better than any kind of brown would. have yet to find a flattering shade of brown that I liked on myself!

    as for hair enhancers, perhaps blue would bring out my brown hair better, but my skin was made for purple (and my eyes are between green and blue and grey), no blue ever looks as great on me as does purple.

    just my experience

    • I have exactly the same experience with colours as you, Susie. And even though there are some browns that suit us cools, I would never choose one, because I just don’t like brown.
      Another nice option instead of black could be a darker (charcoal) grey, or what do you say Imogen?

      • I remember that we have very similar colouring 🙂

        I quite like charcoal, although again, much trickier to find than black. I really like black, it suits my colouring and my style (dramatic) plus being high contrast I like to mix a dark colour with a lighter one, black seems to fit the bill as one end of that spectrum. Also, being fairly poor still, I feel v fortunate to have the colouring and for now the youth to pull black off. Choice is endless in the cheaper end shops I can afford. Will wear it as long as I can.

  • Your posts are all so interesting and cover topics not explained anywhere else. Here’s my question though. If I go with a coat in my recommended shade of brown then it doesn’t seem to match nearly as many things as a neutral like black or khaki. Any suggestions? I have hazel eyes and medium brown hair.

  • I’m a cool too, (mid blonde highlighted hair and blue eyes) and usually rely on navy as a neutral but also have black coats and macs which I don’t wear much of as it drains my colour from my face.
    So in order to address my varied outerwear wardrobe and jackets should I ditch the black and use the following instead ? I use scarves and pashminas too to brighten them all up.

    Macs – Beige / light taupe (mid thigh length)+ navy short mac
    Jackets,short – rose brown ,silver-grey, fushia casual cotton and beige /light brown cord
    Waterproof jacket – purple (with matching gilet thin fleece under) and a light mid blue (sporty style)
    Would I need a mid grey winter coat – or purple – as well for UK winters ?
    I also have a fair selection of fleeces ….

    I’m trying to weed out “villans” and gain “supporting acts and heroes” from my wardrobe following your tips. (also as a cool should I ditch coral colours too – eg. long cardigan ?)
    Many thanks for any advise.

  • This post were good timing because I actually trying to build my jackets and coats after these “enhancer and intensifiers”. My old black and white jackets/coats are like 3-4 years old now. 😛
    A few weeks ago, I used powerpoint and using the color picker to see what my colorings were and this is what I got: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5507/9509008611_bc3392a96c_o.png so I bought a jacket that were a very dark taupe-ish brown (http://lp.hm.com/hmprod?set=key%5Bsource%5D,value%5B/model/2012/P01%2006756%2016103%2037%201244%209.jpg%5D&set=key%5Brotate%5D,value%5B%5D&set=key%5Bwidth%5D,value%5B%5D&set=key%5Bheight%5D,value%5B%5D&set=key%5Bx%5D,value%5B%5D&set=key%5By%5D,value%5B%5D&set=key%5Btype%5D,value%5BSTILL_LIFE_FRONT%5D&call=url%5Bfile:/product/large%5D ) but it didnt match that well with my hair color (more for a ashy blonde). Maybe a dark khaki or stone (green-grey) would have been better?

    And for the complementary color: For some reason, I draws towards two 2/3rds and analogous colors more like olive-green and navy over the complementary color, purple.
    I just prefer my coats/jackets to be dark, muted or earthy which is strange because I actually love more dramatic color schemes but my main styles are classic/relaxed. :S Everytime I trying to buy a jacket/coat or shoes, I always go for another neutral (Im a bit matchy-matchy, I tends to match either my outerwear or shoes with my bags/belts. ) even though I wanted to try something new. I guess this is where your comfort zones and main personal styles take over your choices when shopping. I still havent figure out it why my mind “want” to buy only neutrals in shoes/bags/jackets. :S

  • I am a warm complexion brunette with brown eyes and had an AH-HA moment! I have a brown leather jacket and a blue trench (more in the denim range, not navy) that I feel compliment my hair color well. I didn’t understand why until I read your post. I also seem to gravitate toward charcoal. Warm purples are in my wardrobe as well, so I understand the comments about purple. I am happy to say that I am gradually eliminating black from my wardrobe as it does not compliment my complexion.

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