Every few years, a WOACA stands in front of her coat cupboard and comes to the conclusion that her old favourite is looking decidedly shabby and perhaps even a even a little dated.
Thus Jane and Beryl set out for a little vicarious shopping on behalf of the nation. The bar is set high: Jane's favourite Daks coat, is pre-loved (£18) and came from a charity shop at least five years ago, but is the absolute gold standard of the coat world with its excellent cut, gorgeous colour and just overall wonderful styling. Beryl's gem is an Edina Ronay raspberry velvet coat bought for £150 in a sale: unique and marvellous. Can the high street compete...?

Daks (£18) charity shop

Edina Ronay £150

First stop Debenhams, whom Beryl are Jane are sorry to kick while  they are down, but which has clearly forgotten that the only thing that it has over the internet is the customer's experience WITHIN THE STORE. Beryl and Jane are confronted with only one changing room open and shabby shop fittings. Plastic clothes abound (polyester) which Jane and Beryl are finding increasingly ecologically worrisome.   

On sale at Red Herring, £49
Equally disturbing are the strange headless mannequins, which remind Beryl of 1970s Dr Who episodes. Will they suddenly be activated and seek world domination, wearing stripy jumpers and serviceable anoraks? or has that already happened and no-ones noticed? Who knows?

The pickings are rather slim, but Beryl does manage to snout out a damned fine coat for the princely sum of £49. Fluffy faux fur, big lapels and a great colour, it reminds her of the bits of the 1970s she liked, like Slade, and Bingley Hall, Stafford. You can take the girl out of the West Midlands... 

The White Company, £269

Meanwhile, Jane is finding the whole expedition more than slightly ludicrous: the temperature outside is touching 20 degrees C, and she is 'glowing' profusely. Must she really add layers of pure wool and faux fur in this heat? Ahh, the life of a fashion blogger! This White Company offering is serviceable - ugh! And at that price? She doesn't think so. Let's move swiftly on...
The White Company, £229

Jane is more interested at the overpriced deccies than the furry 'car coat' which makes her shoulders look even squarer than normal. Is there no end to this torture?

Mint velvet £189

This coat gets pretty near top marks from Jane on the grounds of the cut being generous and the fabric cosy and comfortable: clearly Jane had cooled off somewhat in temperature and temper. There is always something luxurious - if impractical - about a winter white coat. An added bonus was its price: not the most expensive by any means (which means more dosh for dry cleaning, which the owner of this is sure gonna need). But it comes in more hardwearing colours too...

Beryl and Jane head for Hobbs which must, they think, be the home of a fine bit of British tailoring, or maybe not as it turns out. This coat is a lovely shade of pink, (the chartreuse is way too ass-ceed for Beryl or Jane's taste) but where, oh, where is the swishiness? For £299 Beryl wants to ponce about in the full Caroline Penvenen of Poldark fame, or at very least a full, longer skirt with an inverted pleat. She wants a fashion fix, she wants pizazz, she wants style: is that really too much to ask?

 Hobbs, £299

Hobbs. £269

This is more like it. Beryl has a not so secret passion for smart coats, which can be flung over any old grib-grob and still make her feel a million dollars. Much to everyone's amusement Beryl still likes a tailored coat to wear to carol services at Christmas and this one may well be a contender...

Stand £260

Stand £300

Jane had to go to Harvey Nicks to find anything like her dream coat. She was sorely tempted by the sumptuousnesslessness of its fake fur department which went overboard on colour and cut, both of which satisfied her yearnings for brightness and definition. It was only the thought of dragging yet more luggage back on the train from Edinburgh which stopped her - there's always the internet...

Coat Second Female £240
It's becoming clear to Beryl, what sort of coat she is seeking. It's not the puffa (the dullest of all coattage), it's not the duffle (the preserve of small fictional bears) it is instead the princess rather than the pea. Clearly this season the princess is coming also coming from north of the border, as the chosen item (yes, of course, she bought one) has more than a wee hint of the highlander about it. Plaid, ankle length, with a deep vent at the back, it drags nicely through the heather, has more than a hint drama and started life on an actual sheep's back. Astonishingly, Scotland 2, England 0: they clearly know a thing or two about coats, perchance it has something to do with it being so much colder? Just a thought...

PS. Jane and Beryl would like to add that they did go to M&S and Laura Ashley in the interests of fairness, but could not bring themselves to even try anything on such was the granniness of the offerings in these establishments. Nil points.

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