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7 best school coats that they’ll actually want to wear

From duffel coats to jackets, these get a gold star for cosiness and style

Martha Alexander
Wednesday 31 August 2022 09:47 BST
<p>We’ve gone for darker colourways in this round-up, as typically school uniform policies ask for a navy or black coat </p>

We’ve gone for darker colourways in this round-up, as typically school uniform policies ask for a navy or black coat

Our Top Picks

As summer draws to an end, now’s the time for parents to start thinking about their children’s school coats for the new academic year.

A good school coat needs to have a lot of strings to its bow. Firstly, it should be able to withstand a biting British winter, so needs to be well-insulated and ideally offer a hood. Secondly, it has to comply with uniform policy, which generally means no huge fashion logos, bright colours or zany patterns. Thirdly, it should be well-made and created to last. Fourthly, it should be comfortable and easy to move around in. Finally, it should be something children actually want to wear.

In this round-up, we’ve chosen darker colourways, as typically schools request a navy or black coat. Of course, if your child’s school is more relaxed, you’ll enjoy greater freedom of choice.

There are also plenty of other things you might not consider (until it’s too late, that is). These include: are there loops for easy hanging on a peg? Is there a dedicated “name label” area? What’s the pocket situation? Is there a hood?

While a coat should be warm, it’s a pain if it’s bulky, because it makes it hard to carry, move around in and hang up. Luckily, there are plenty of options out there for super-insulating but relatively streamlined pieces.

More and more brands are becoming increasingly eco-conscious, which for some families is going to be a priority. Other brands are putting their efforts into safety – we’re finding more options available with reflective patches and stripes on coats, which will boost a child’s visibility, especially in the dark.

How we tested

A little group of testers aged between four and 11 years helped us to put these coats through their paces. First, we wanted to see that the coats were comfortable – that they weren’t too heavy or cumbersome, and that they allowed for plenty of movement.

Next, we checked for how waterproof and warm they were, and what measures had been taken to ensure heat was retained. We also wanted to see how easy it was for our testers to do up their coat unaided.

Finally, we were mindful of eco credentials and, of course, budgets.

The best school coats for 2023 are:

  • Best school coat for harsh weather – Polarn O. Pyret kids padded waterproof coat: £76, Polarnopyret.co.uk
  • Best school coat for eco credentials – Frugi rambler 3 in 1 coat: £30, Welovefrugi.com
  • Best school coat for active children – Quechua kids’ hiking padded jacket: £24.99, Decathlon.co.uk
  • Best classic school coat – Rachel Riley double breasted coat: £119, Rachelriley.co.uk
  • Best school coat for younger children – JoJo Maman Bébé children’s duffle coat: £55, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk

Polarn O. Pyret kids padded waterproof coat

Polarn.jpg
  • Best: School coat for harsh weather
  • Ages: Two to 12 years
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Hood: Yes
  • Pockets: Yes
  • Machine-washable: Yes

If you live in an area where the temperature dips very low, or if your child really feels the cold, this coat – for children aged between two and 12 years – is the answer.

Wind, water and snow proof, this padded coat is filled with PrimaLoft insulation, which is vegan friendly and at least 60 per cent recycled. The seams are taped, so no amount of rain is an issue, and despite all the insulation, it’s also breathable and light to wear – so it would also make for the perfect ski jacket.

Our tester was most taken by all of the pockets, consisting of fleece-lined front pockets with zip closures, one chest pocket and one sleeve pocket. It’s so well made that we have no doubt it has the ability to serve multiple children over the years, as suggested by the brand.

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Frugi rambler 3 in 1 coat

Frugi rambler 3 in 1 coat.jpg
  • Best: School coat for eco credentials
  • Ages: One to 10 years
  • Waterproof: Water repellent, waterproof rating 3,000HH
  • Hood: Yes
  • Pockets: Yes
  • Machine-washable: Yes

There are so many reasons to recommend this coat, it’s hard to know where to start. Perhaps with how it looks – it’s cute with different-coloured popper fastens at the front. The inside is a removable, fleece gilet with bright, multi-coloured stripes.

The main body of the coat is padded without being unwieldy, and every effort has been made to keep children dry and warm. It’s waterproof, too, with taped seams to prevent leaking. It has a chin guard, a fleece-lined hood and adjustable soft-touch hook and loop cuffs.

Our little tester was delighted with the dipped hem at the back – but not as much as parents will be, as it means the end of soggy bottoms.

Frugi has stellar eco credentials and the rambler coat is no exception, made with 100 per cent post-consumer recycled plastic, which would otherwise go to landfill.

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Quechua kids’ hiking padded jacket

Quechua kids’ hiking padded jacket.jpg
  • Best: School coat for active children
  • Ages: Two to six years
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Hood: Yes
  • Pockets: Yes
  • Machine-washable: Yes

As the name suggests, this coat is made with movement in mind. It’s densely padded with a synthetic ball fibre, which bodes well for durability and warmth.

It’s water repellent rather than entirely waterproof – so, if a deluge is forecast, you’ll still need an umbrella. The zips are big – which makes it easy for smaller children to manage (great news for busy parents who tire of hearing “Can you do my coat up?”).

We really appreciated the two-year warranty offered – which speaks to the brand’s confidence that this jacket is well-made and built to last. It can be washed in a machine on a cold setting.

Our tester noted the cosy hood, which is lined with fleece and is really gentle and warming for the neck and ears. She even scaled a mini mountain in it, which tells you all you need to know about its active credentials. It’s the perfect weekend coat for mini explorers.

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Rachel Riley double-breasted coat

Rachel Riley double breasted coat.jpg
  • Best: Classic school coat
  • Ages: Three to 10 years
  • Waterproof: No
  • Hood: No
  • Pockets: Yes
  • Machine-washable: No, dry clean only

There are no two ways about it – this coat is utterly gorgeous. It’s extremely elegant and exquisitely made. The cut, the detailing (we see you, gold buttons) and even the touch of the fabric – which is a soft polyester, so not as heavy as wool – will make you wish Rachel Riley did adult ranges, too.

Smart looks aside, this is a warm coat – made more so by the double-breasted design, which provides twice the insulation across the front of the body.

It’s the kind of coat more discerning parents might choose for schools that have ultra-high standards when it comes to uniform. Our one reservation is that it may be a tad too refined for potential rough-and-tumble playground shenanigans. However, when it comes to presentation and warmth, you can’t lose. Be warned, though – you’ll have to pre-order this item, so don’t expect swift delivery.

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JoJo Maman Bébé duffle coat

JoJo Maman Bébé duffle coat.jpg
  • Best: School coat for younger children
  • Ages: 12 months to six years
  • Waterproof: No
  • Hood: Yes
  • Pockets: Yes
  • Machine-washable: Yes

Calling all would-be Paddington Bears. This adorable duffle coat for children aged between 12 months and six years is traditional and practical. It’s lightweight, made from polyester (not wool) and has a sweet striped lining.

This coat also comes in red, which is less uniform-policy friendly, but worth noting in case your child’s school is more relaxed and your little one has a penchant for scarlet hues.

Our four-year-old tester loved the toggles – although they do take a while to master – and the large pockets, into which seeds, berries and pebbles have already been stowed.

Perhaps best of all, this coat can be machine-washed, so you don’t need to worry about muddy puddles or smoothie spills.

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Tog24 midsley kids down jacket

Tog24 midsley kids down jacket.jpg
  • Best: Duck down school coat
  • Ages: Four to 13 years
  • Waterproof: No
  • Hood: Yes
  • Pockets: Yes
  • Machine-washable: Not specified

Lightweight, warm and filled with cosy duck down, this is a great coat, suitable for cold winter school days but also promising to work hard in the holidays and over the weekends, too.

It’s slim enough to wear under waterproof coats on days when rain is forecast or the temperature dips below freezing.

We love the shape and how the hood manages to offer both warmth and roominess at the same time. And we were pleased to see the cuffs and hem both had stretch to them, which meant warmth would be kept inside for longer.

  1. £40 from Tog24.com
Prices may vary
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Next shower-resistant chevron duvet padded coat

Next shower resistant chevron duvet padded coat.jpg
  • Best: School coat for older children and teens
  • Ages: Three to 16 years
  • Waterproof: Water repellant
  • Hood: Yes
  • Pockets: Yes
  • Machine-washable: Yes

While this coat is available for children aged between three and 16 years old, we think it’s especially good for older children who are potentially a little more fashion-conscious. Duvet coats have been a winter staple for a few years now – thanks to being warm for the body and cool for the image. This padded one, complete with hood, manages to answer to any uniform policy while also looking fresh and contemporary.

We noted the knee length, which promises extra warmth, and were pleased to see our tester still managed to run, jump and dance about with the best of them, with no restriction. Fleece-lined pockets are also a major plus.

Prices start from £35, depending on size and length.

  1. £36 from Next.co.uk
Prices may vary
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The verdict: School coats

We’d have to say the Polarn O. Pyret is the most effective against the cold, but we appreciate that it is also one of the most expensive pieces in the round-up. Another top pick is the Frugi rambler, which must be one of the hardest-working coats we’ve ever seen.

That’s the coat sorted – now kit them out with the best kids’ backpacks for school that will really make the grade

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