Finding the one– that perfect, pretty little winter coat - can be a difficult game.

And when your budget is on the thin side, finding something cosy, comforting and chic can seem near impossible. Especially if you need to buy one quickly to keep you warm through this cold snap.

But heed these top tips before you hit the high street and you’ll not only make your wardrobe happy, but your credit card too.

Repeat after me – PPW (price-per-wear)

We’re not advocating spending thousands on a winter coat, but once you tot up the price per wear, that price tag will seem a lot more reasonable.

It’s the one item you’ll wear almost every day, without fail, for a few months, so you can allow yourself to spend a little extra than you would on a lightweight jacket.

[Read more: Kate Middleton's best winter coats - and how to copy her style]

Whether your budget is £40 or £400, this is a great way to work out just how valuable your coat is to you.

Forget the trends

You want a coat that’ll see you through from winter to spring which means you’ll be wearing it. A lot. A trendy oversized shearling coat might seem on trend right now but come December, you’ll probably be bored of it and be sick of the Del Boy comments.

If in doubt, stick to traditional fabrics and shapes and let your accessories show your trendy side. A brightly coloured faux fur stole, a cartoonish bag or a metallic heel should do the trick.

Who wore it best?

One problem with buying from the high street is that you risk the chance of wearing the same coat as everyone else.

Every season has an ‘it’ coat (last year’s was the shrimp-pink car coat from Marks & Spencer) and you could find yourself playing ‘snap’ with many a like-minded person throughout winter.

Never buy the one that’s selling out or hailed as the ‘hero’ coat of the season; take that piece as your inspiration and find your own version.

Treat brights with caution

Nothing brightens up a dull, dreary winter’s day like a bright pink or neon yellow coat – but it can be a curse.

Going incognito in a look-at-me-shade is impossible and you have to consider everything you’ll wear your coat with. Neutrals may seem boring but they’re a lot more wearable and let’s face it, next year you’ll be bored of brights and into pastels.

Size matters

If you like to layer up in the winter, you might want to consider buying a coat in a larger size than normal; the last thing you want is straining buttons or a zip that won’t quite meet.

Consider the sorts of pieces you’ll be wearing under your coat and find a fit and fabric accordingly. Always pay close attention to the fit of the shoulders of your coat though – you can get away with a slightly oversized body but the shoulders need to be spot on.

Search the sales

There’s always a sale on somewhere! Perhaps not, but searching the dregs of the summer sales could see you bag yourself a bargain – especially if you’re looking for a cosy coat to see you through this chilly weather.

Many high street shops still have items for sale, especially warm coats, so see if you can bag youself a stylish steal.

Check your wardrobe

Finally, before you even think about parting with any cash, check your cupboards.

You might have become sick of last year’s coat by spring, but looking at with fresh eyes now, you might feel a new love for it.
Send it to the dry cleaner’s for a spruce up, splash out on a new scarf and you’ll be looking brand new.

Share your tips for buying a winter coat in the Comments box below.