How to Update Your Coat

If you can't bear the thought of another winter with the same old coat (we're with you), try these easy outerwear updates courtesy of Cal Patch, author of <em>Design-It-Yourself Clothes.</em>

Swap out the buttons

Make eye candy of your closures. Search for buttons in different shapes, colors or materials that will fit into the existing holes. To get it right, measure the width of the gap -- the ideal button should be 1/8 inch smaller (buttons come labeled by size). is Patch's go-to source for handmade and vintage buttons, but craft stores or flea markets carry an array, too.

Estimated cost: 25 cents and up per button, depending on material and workmanship


Pin on a brooch

Look for one a little more modern than your grandmother's jeweled varieties, like a fabric flower or preppy bow. To start, narrow the search to designs that share a detail in common with your coat, such as color or material, Patch says. Or, if you want a more dramatic look, choose one that will contrast with your coat's style—like a ruffled brooch for a classic, tailored jacket.

Estimated cost: Less than $50


Add a belt

Belts look great on nearly any style coat (the one exception: a coat that's especially bulky or loose-fitting). If you can't find a fabric that's an exact match, choose a fun print, a metallic or one in a contrasting color. Ask your tailor to add belt loops for a more secure wear, or just stash the belt in your purse when you arrive somewhere.

Estimated cost: Less than $50


Change the lining

What's on the inside counts, too. Modifying the lining in color or weight can make all the difference in how you feel when you put on your coat, Patch says. Be sure to use a fabric that's slippery, so you can easily slip it on and off. Going warmer? Opt for a heavy fabric like silk charmeuse. For more flexibility, try taking out any removable interlinings (you can replace with a chunky knit sweater on very cold days).

Estimated cost: $50 and up


How to edit your closet

Host a style swap party