Ultimately, the most important purchase of the season, there is nothing more comforting than a winter coat.
Yet, for those of us living in a climate that rarely, if ever, requires us to wear one, investing in something that will need to last several seasons can be overwhelming, especially when times are tough and money is tight.
We need to get back to basics. That means we need something that will keep us warm. Of course, we also want value for money and, equally importantly, something stylish. A couple of months ago I advised you on what to look out for in womenswear so, now my dearest male readers, it's your turn.
Making any "important" or "practical" buy is tedious for most and is plagued with distant memories of mothers buying garments that were "built to last" (think sturdy, charcoal, gaberdine back-to-school type pieces), items that lacked so much personality they could be passed down from an older sibling, albeit with a new set of buttons and a good dry clean.
It is no secret that most men hate shopping for clothes. The only way it seems to work for most of them is in a kind of wild, hurried, harried kind of way, which, of course, is exactly how not to do it.
A coat needs deliberating, planning and mulling over, especially as most of you are likely to need two in your wardrobe. Firstly, you will need a casual day-to-day kind of coat; a multitasker in that it should both look good as well as keep wind and water out. An oil-cloth bomber is a great compromise. Look to down for warmth (ideally, a fill power of 500 or more) or a combination of wool and down. If you are allergic to down, there are some synthetic fills like Thinsulate or PrimaLoft.
Then comes the more important of the two: the formal coat, something no grown man should be without. Before diving in and doing the normal grab and run, start by (honestly) re-evaluating your shape. A good measure is to try on a coat and button it up fully; the shoulder of the coat should extend out past your natural shoulder by about 2.5cm to allow room for a suit jacket. You also want to be able to fit a full fist in the chest area under your buttons. Sleeves should be worn 7cm longer than a suit jacket's sleeves as they tend to ride up when worn over a suit. You can't go wrong with a double -breasted coat in dark wool (cashmere when possible) complete with a silk lining.
Tread carefully around the trends; personally, I would stick to the more sombre colours such as grey, navy blue, black and camel because you men need a coat that can span a few seasons. Designer-wise, look to Ralph Lauren, Burberry or Tom Ford for inspiration. If the budget needs to be kept to a minimum take a look at Zara (if you are lucky enough to be both tall, lean and on the right side of 40), or visit one of the many tailors here in Abu Dhabi.
We tend to rely on personality in fashion, which, when it comes to this type of purchase, is the wrong way of looking at things. We should (at the very least) appear grown-up in our choices. It's not often I advise you to invest in a slow burner; admittedly the kind of coat I am talking about may not give you men a leg up to the world's best-dressed list but, hey ho, at least you will be comfortable and warm.
Guys, we get that you hate shopping, we really do, but have a little faith. With a smart purchase, you will have made your money stretch the extra mile. Shopping may become less of a drag and you will be able to give yourselves a smug, self -satisfied pat on the back - and that I know you enjoy.