So over the past several years and through multiple moves, I’ve become intrigued by the idea of the Lean Wardrobe.

The basic idea is this: What in your closet do you need and actually use?

The goal is to have a few solid pieces that are easily interchangeable and that all work with one another, rather than having piles and piles of underutilized clothes stocked away in a messy closet or chest of overstuffed drawers.

Sure, the idea of having multiple closets filled with every possible selection SOUNDS nice, but most likely, you’ll just be wearing the same stuff over and over… the items you like and find most comfortable.

Once in a while, I’ll introduce a new article to the Lean Wardrobe series, highlighting a few types of one particular piece of clothing you should have (giving you the freedom to get rid of everything else, if you so desire).

The three coats you need

If you’re like me, you’ve amassed quite a collection of coats over the years. Some are too small, some too big, some kinda trendy (meh). If you think about it, there are only a few coats that are consistently making it into your rotation.

Here’s what I believe to be three essential coats for your closet; everything else is secondary.

1.) A navy pea coat

This is the best cold weather coat you can have. Find one with traditional styling in a slim cut so it doesn’t swallow you. I’d go with navy or gray (skip the black).

When you’re buying a pea coat, size down until you feel that it’s snug in the shoulders and back, then size up if you must. You want your coat to hug you but not so much that it’s uncomfortable or restricts movement. Lastly, your basic pea coat will hit a little past your hip.

From left to right: Tommy Hilfiger, J.Crew, Gap

The short trench

Nothing wrong with the full-length trench, but let’s be honest, it’s not the easiest thing to wear. You have to be a certain height and build to really pull that off. I’m 5’9″, and I personally think the long trenches make me look goofy.

Enter the short trench. These typically hit mid-thigh, so it covers your backside but doesn’t venture past your knee. They can come with or without a belt. I’d go with something in navy, black, or grey, that way you can wear it with everything.

My trench isn’t the warmest coat ever (water resistant, but not necessarily warm, unless yours has a special insulation layer), so I make sure to wear several layers if I know it’ll be cold out.

From left to right: Banana Republic, Shades of Gray, Burberry

Leather jacket

You want a slim-fitting leather jacket in a classic silhouette that you can own and wear for years. I’d stick with military silhouettes, bombers (if they’re slim enough), or motorcycle silhouettes. A dark brown leather is the most versatile, but if you’re especially bad-ass, go for the black.

Remember, this should fit like a second skin. You don’t want a big billowy leather jacket. Imagine yourself riding a motorcycle with it on. You don’t want the sleeves and torso of the jacket flapping in the wind; you gotta remain aerodynamic!

Leather jackets typically will be the priciest jacket you own, but if you find one you love, it’s often worth the splurge.

From left to right: Hugo Boss, Andrew Marc, Ben Sherman

What are YOUR essential winter outerwear picks?

There you have it, three outerwear items that are essential in every man’s wardrobe. Sure, you’ll have other jackets you throw on once in a while, but if you only have three to help you survive the winter, these should be it.

What are your favorite coats you own? Is there a certain kind you can’t live without? Let’s hear it in the comments below.

Got a question? Hit me up!

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