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Parka life: The best coats to keep you warm and snug for a long winter outdoors

As we’re encouraged to embrace an al-fresco social life through the colder months, here’s the lowdown on the cosiest outerwear for staying warm

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Olive padded coat, €195 from Leon & Harper at Costume Dublin

Olive padded coat, €195 from Leon & Harper at Costume Dublin

Olive padded coat, €195 from Leon & Harper at Costume Dublin

Stuck at home this summer, many of us dreamt of al-fresco dinners under the stars, afternoons in the beer garden and cocktails at a beachside bar. Now, the sun may have vanished, but outdoor dining appears to be the hospitality industry’s greatest hope as lockdown stretches into winter.

With further restrictions on social gatherings, we’re facing at least a few more months of warming our hands around a coffee cup and huddling by the patio heaters at brunch.

Earlier this week, Claire Byrne Live even enlisted mountaineer Pat Falvey to demonstrate how to dress appropriately for eating outside in the colder months, layering zip-up fleeces, lightweight jackets and padded coats.

The segment raised a few eyebrows from viewers, but no one wants to spend that rare night at the pub trying to revive a numb backside when the chill really sets in.

You’ve probably already broken out the winter outerwear at this stage, yet even your trusty old coat may not be up to the task of keeping you cosy over such extended periods outside.

A new one could prove well worth the investment — however excited you may be to show off those lockdown purchases, your coat is likely to be the only thing people will see you in offline for much of the season.

A puffer coat is the most effective option for staying warm, and you’ll find them in every colour imaginable on the high street. The fashion insider favourite is from The North Face’s new collaboration with MM6 by Maison Margiela, which includes a characteristically conceptual twist on the outdoor brand’s iconic panelled jacket.

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Blue circle jacket, €790 from MM6 x The North Face

Blue circle jacket, €790 from MM6 x The North Face

Blue circle jacket, €790 from MM6 x The North Face

The French fashion house, under the direction of designer John Galliano, reimagines the puffer shape in a circular pattern, rendered in shades of bright blue, purple, green and gold.

Another street-style hit is the vegan leather puffer jacket from cult brand Nanushka at Brown Thomas: a glossy yet super soft oversized style that looks great layered over jeans and jumpers or dresses and boots. It has an adjustable high collar for added volume and closes with buttons instead of a zip, lending a more considered edge to the puffer style.

Maximalists, meanwhile, may be drawn to InWear’s vibrant animal print longline coat from Arnotts, a dramatic piece that can be worn with basic leggings and trainers and still make a major statement.

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Women's animal print coat, €240 from Inwear at Arnotts

Women's animal print coat, €240 from Inwear at Arnotts

Women's animal print coat, €240 from Inwear at Arnotts

For a more classic — and more budget-friendly — puffer, look to Next or Marks and Spencer, which offer down-free padding made from recycled polyester, or try Finisterre, a sustainable outdoor brand that uses recycled fabrics and insulation in its bestselling Nebulas jackets.

You’ll find stylish plus-size options at Violeta by Mango, including jewel-toned burgundy, dark green and metallic silver puffers, or check out Lower Eastside’s long black puffer with houndstooth lining from Navabi.co.uk.

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Women's Maroon quilted coat, €79.99 from Mango

Women's Maroon quilted coat, €79.99 from Mango

Women's Maroon quilted coat, €79.99 from Mango

If you’re not so keen on the puffer shape, you can get all the warmth with a sleeker finish from one of Patagonia’s insulated jackets. Its Torrentshell jacket boasts a fun printed lining, adjustable hood and pockets lined with microfleece, and is also created from recycled nylon and polyester for an eco-friendly bonus.

Likewise, Rains’ Glacial parka is heavily padded with a more utilitarian look, thanks to its boxy silhouette, velcro patches and waxed material — plus it reaches mid-thigh, so will give you that extra bit of coverage that will be particularly welcome when the only available seat is a cold bench.

Lovers of minimal design will appreciate COS’s padded parka, which has a straight fit and comes in a dark green that will look smart wherever you’re going.

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Men's black thermal coat, €375 from Rains at Indigo & Cloth

Men's black thermal coat, €375 from Rains at Indigo & Cloth

Men's black thermal coat, €375 from Rains at Indigo & Cloth

For women, the quilted liner is the coat of the season. Despite its name, it is intended to be worn on its own, no topcoat required, and there are many kinds to choose from.

If you fancy a modern update on the classic country style, see Alexa Chung’s cool-girl spin on the liner for Barbour. Prefer the clean lines of Scandinavian design? Check out Danish brand 2NDDay’s interpretation with contrasting seams at Avoca, or for a more laid-back, lived-in number you can breeze around in, there’s Leon & Harper’s olive coat with zip detailing from Costume Dublin.

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Reversible coat, €540 from Weekend Max Mara at Brown Thomas

Reversible coat, €540 from Weekend Max Mara at Brown Thomas

Reversible coat, €540 from Weekend Max Mara at Brown Thomas

Can’t decide? Seek out a multipurpose design, such as COS’s three-in-one hybrid puffer — which can be worn as a coat, jacket or gilet — or Weekend Max Mara’s reversible hooded coat. One side is a smooth navy, while the other is a padded taupe filled with goose down. When outerwear is the only show in town, make sure you’ve got options.

Irish Independent