Winter is coming: why is Cambridge so bloody cold?

UL-in-a-duvet chic right?


Aside from the crisp leaves in varying shades outside my window, that all-important switch from iced-coffee to soya flat whites, and (of course) the inevitable lead up to Christmas, my favourite part of the drop in temperature has always been the excuse for a new winter coat.

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Probably off searching for next year’s coat

Yes, I did buy (at least one) winter coat last year, and again the year before, and so on… and yes, I’ve had many debates with friends about whether a new winter coat each year is excessive or not, and so let’s ignore what they thought and settle with one of my favourite quotations that seems apt for a shallow column like this: “Everyone is entitled to my opinion.” Let’s continue.

For me, a coat is probably the only reason in winter I can claim to be a fashion columnist. The amount of times I’ve considered whether I could get away with walking to the UL wrapped in my duvet and calling it a fashion statement is alarming. I tend to wear an all-black outfit daily with only my coats (and shoes) to make my outfit remotely interesting. Case in point: when my fire alarm went off last week (at 7am, just saying that shouldn’t be legal), it took five seconds to grab my thick floor length coat, knowing that no-one would have a clue what I had on underneath.

Ready for the UL

Ready for the UL

There have been many fails over the years. So much warmth sacrificed and money wasted. Back at the stage that every sixteen-year-old girl wore a parka I cringe to admit that I too buckled and bought one. And, while it was actually the only coat I’ve ever owned with a hood, it was also paper thin and not even waterproof. Thanks Topshop. The worst of all the trend-led impulse purchases was (sigh) a quilted Barbour jacket. It happened, I thought I looked like someone who did casual horse riding at the weekend, and in reality I looked fucking weird. Such ragrets.

The horrors aside, I have got it right many times. There’s the embroidered Chloe coat that I found in a designer thrift store in Amsterdam and went back four times to haggle before I finally bought it; there’s a pillar-box red Ralph Lauren coat that I found in a vintage shop in London, that was snapped up in the same ten minutes as a metallic floral jacquard coat that I take no shame in smugly responding to anyone who asks where it’s from, “oh it’s vintage, sorry (not sorry implied).”

Stairway to heaven or more coats?

At one point in first year I decided I was going to ban any clothes spending for the rest of the term, only to go out (unintentionally) shopping that day and obsess over an oxblood leather coat, impulse buy it, and attempt the walk of shame back to college in the hope that no one would see me or my huge shopping bag on the way.

I won’t continue with my written coat collection, and will not mention my green satin one, the trench, or even the dark red tartan shearling one… and I won’t dream of disclosing how many black coats I own. At this point I realise I probably have more coats than friends.

Friend included only for the purpose of coat co-ordination

Friend included only for the purpose of coat co-ordination

This year though, my search has thus far been unsuccessful. Now, this is not to say I haven’t seen anything I like this year – I always have a clothes wish list longer than any reading list Cambridge has ever given me… There are contenders just from what I’ve seen lurking on the streets in town: the teal Marabou feather coat, the orange velvet military jacket, and even a long patent cherry red raincoat are all calling to me.

This whole column is essentially a long-winded self-indulgent plea for help. And so, if you see the coat to end all coats, don’t be selfish and buy it: message me directly and I will be forever grateful. Well, at least until next year…