November 20, 2007

Clothes-minded—November 20, 2007

More often than not, by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, the weather has snapped. It’s cold and blustery, snow is on the ground or on its way, and your transitional fall coat just doesn’t cut it in the warmth department anymore. Now comes the crucial decision—do you pull out last year’s outerwear from winter storage or spring for something new? Since your coat is the majority of your wardrobe for the next five months (okay, maybe seven—we are in Chicago), it’s worth the extra thought (and cash) to make this piece the superlative of your wardrobe. In the midst of the wintry mix of snow and heavier snow, people come to recognize you by your coat. Even two friends crossing paths are but two ships passing in the night if they’re in new jackets. As the snow arrives, the time to shine some light on the truly necessary anti-frost wear is now.

Add some high drama with an unexpected collar. Bowed, buckled, and up to there, these collars will expand your wardrobe far beyond the crewneck. A large fabric bow at the neck offers a touch of femininity to a speckled white bouclé coat from Walter. Add’s shawl-collar down coat gives off the perfect snow-queen vibe with its raised back collar. Funnels aren’t just for the kitchen anymore—they’ve found their fashion calling in funnel-neck coats. Burberry’s military cape, Armani Collezioni’s Ottoman jacket, and Vince’s cocoon puffer have all embraced the funnel neck. Not only do collars add style, but they help keep your neck warm too!

Yes, black goes with just about everything, but a showstopper of a coat does as well. Think beyond predictable black. Colors are abundant, and your coat doesn’t need to coordinate with every piece in your wardrobe, since it covers them all anyway. Valentino punches up a cropped wool number in “Valentino red,” the house’s ever-popular geranium hue. Burberry and Marc Jacobs also speak to the lady in red with their bright crimson, military-inspired cover-ups. Fear not the winter blues, because Nanette Lepore has channeled them into a splendid teal bouclé coat. If you’re looking to stay on top of trends, go for the hot colors of the season. A swingy purple car coat from Plenty by Tracy Reese is an excellent en-vogue statement. Turning up the volume, Christian Lacroix offers a shot of high-gloss color with a fur-trimmed black and gold floral-print coat. It’s truly pure indulgence in the form of outerwear. That wintry white snow is just asking to be colored happy with some dazzling shades of cozy fabric.

Volume is an integral part of the way winter wear is shaping up this season. Burberry stitched pleated full skirts to the bottoms of many of their coats, switching the look from coat to very warm dress. When the only way to stay warm is to throw on a copious number of layers, it’s important to be able to get your coat over them all. An easy fix for this situation is a heavy cape that can accommodate even the bulkiest of sweaters. This season, capes were featured in collections by Stella McCartney (in neutral block stripes) and Cinzia Rocca (in black alpaca). Reminiscent of a cape, but fitted at the bottom and with sleeves, the cocoon silhouette is making itself at home on coat racks this winter. While Rebecca Taylor showed a jacquard cream version, Theory’s take is puffy and black, and Proenza Schouler has toggled, cowl-necked and pea-coated its cocoons.

Your coat is like your best winter party friend: It’s out all the time, it mingles with others, and if it got lost, going out without it wouldn’t be any fun. There are so many styles and colors available that everyone should be able to find a coat they like. So let the search for your outdoor winter identity begin. You’re getting warmer, warmer, warmer…