November 8, 2005

Couture du Jour - November 8, 2005

The cute, warm, and affordable coat: It sounds like a dream. This “dream” coat is not easy to find, especially living in a city where the inhabitants have to deal with cold, wind, and multiple forms of precipitation. During the spell of warm weather last weekend, I searched for the ultimate winter coat, keeping in mind the following criteria: cost, overall cuteness (I don’t want any marshmallow coats in my closet), and warmth. I found many candidates, but only a few met the requirements of all three categories.

I started this daunting task at H&M, assuming I was bound to find something in the enormous store. But as Tiffany Lai, a third-year at the U of C, commented, “H&M ingests the latest trends and regurgitates them back up into the store.” While I do most of my shopping in this wonderfully Scandinavian store, her comment was unfortunately true for their winter coat section. I did find a few worth documenting, though. The Faux Fur Coat, lusciously warm and perfect for expressing your inner bling persona. Cost: $99. Cute rating: 5 (out of 10, 10 being the highest)—the cut wasn’t that great and the idea wasn’t that original. Warm? Yes, very warm.

Next I found a double-breasted peacoat with a cape instead of sleeves. Cost: $99. Cute rating: 6—a very original design. Warm? No, it’s a cape.

This jacket was followed by the Big Collared Trench, which is by far the weirdest jacket I have ever tried on. This jacket has a gigantic collar and is very short for

a trench coat. Cost: $129. Cute rating: 5. Warm? No.

Finally, I tried on their version of the average black, knee-length trench coat. Cost: $129. Cute rating: 6—it is not very original and it will look fairly bleak on the quad, but the trench cut gives it a bit of flair. Warm? Slightly.

After finishing up at H&M, I walked down to Banana Republic to see what they had to offer. My favorite coat of the trip was their Brown Woolen Grandma Coat. I call it this because it looks so comfy and timeless, and it’s one of those pieces that you could reach into your closet and pick for any outfit—it could finish a dressy night look or top off your day look following the all-nighter you just pulled. Cost: $198. Cute rating: 10. Warm? Yes.

I also perused Banana’s trench coat section. They had the best black, knee-length trench coat of the night. The fit was impeccable and the seams adorned the jacket nicely to give it extra character. Cost: $218. Cute rating: 8. Warm? Yes, but not as warm as it could be.

As I kept walking down Michigan Avenue, I stopped in Express and was pleasantly surprised with what they had to offer. A ruffled coat caught my eye first. The coat is made of wool and nylon to allow for a bit of stretch, a ruffle hem continues all the way around, and a ribbon belt finishes the look with a fun but still sophisticated look. Cost: $198. Cute rating: 9. Warm? Yes.

My last stop of the night—by no means my last stop of the quest—was Guess. Surprisingly, I enjoyed Guess’s nylon jackets. They had a wonderful dip-dyed puffy jacket complete with a fur collar. While I would never wear this, it was fun to see summer fashion inspirations carried over into winter.

While the quest will always continue, a few winter-savvy tips should help save you from having to don the puffy, floor-length marshmallow coat that your mom bought you last summer. Thrift stores have an amazing array of all kinds of jackets and coats. If you love it but it doesn’t fit perfectly, just have it altered—the total price of that will be well under that of a brand new coat, and it will fit you well. Layering is also another trick for making your fall outerwear last into winter. I find that silk underwear works best for this because it is very thin yet very warm, and you can find it at any outdoor camping store. Good luck finding your fabulous winter coat—it should be a great season.