Behold the whimsy and wonder of the winter coat. Weep for the poor West Coast celebrities in their sun-soaked convertibles and palm tree-lined boulevards. Though the denizens of New York are often forced to endure freezing rain, soggy snow and windy corners, we’ve got the fashion maven’s best friend on our sides: a fantastic winter coat.
The coat can prove a lifeguard in moments of fashion crisis, whether hiding sweatpants and a bra while gripping a sparkling clutch to get a cheeseburger at noon on Sunday (guilty) or concealing a sparkling tube-top torso that never quite made it home the night before (again, guilty). While Paris Hilton may fret about avoiding the press as she leaves her house in sweats, any New York guy or gal in winter can wrap a well-tailored coat around his or her shoulders and look like they woke up in control of their retail destiny.
This season’s coats are sharply cut with a flair for high drama and their essential component is tailoring, which can be expensive but never goes out of style. The long, Victorian coat has made its mark with cinched waists, high collars and long, sweeping skirts. These same high waists apply to 1960s throwback looks in both the mod and bohemian departments, making for bold pea coats and floor-sweeping military silhouettes. While men may shy away from a cinched waist, the fitted British and military looks can function as dressy and casual coats with rich black, navy and brassy buttons. Indeed, the bohemian influence lingering from summer into fall and winter has colored the palette for winter with blues, browns and greens, along with splashes of a very dramatic red.
Puffy coats are cozy but often a tough fit. Don’t be drawn to the allure of “bigger is warmer” — in fact a narrow cut can keep you toasty by hugging tighter to cold ribs and waists. These down-stuffed wonders function at their finest by letting body heat do the work. Should you fall in love with a soft wonder of the super-puffed variety, try cinching a belt around your waist outside the coat for a more couture look reflecting the bubble skirts and tops awaiting us in the spring.
While the winter uniform has been and will always be wool, fabrics like cashmere, leather and velvet have blended and patchworked their way into the generic for a heightened sense of luxury. Adding to that luxury is the presence of fur in almost every major winter piece, from the collars on a heavy Red Army-looking overcoat to the lining of a cropped jacket. Though it’s still the warmest thing out there, fur has been more controversial than usual this season with the presence of Astrakhan fur, or, in cruelest terms, the fur of newborn or fetal lambs. Not a pretty picture, but many synthetics provide the same luxurious look without the guilt, so you can stop worrying about the cold and start worrying about snowballs.