Why You Need a New Coat

Popping on a new topper this season might just be the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off. Here, some coats you’ll never want to check.

By Charla Krupp
Fashion expert Charla Krupp. (Photo: Michael Waring)

Statement CoatsIf you’re looking to recession-proof your wardrobe this fall — and who isn’t? — you need to get a bigger bang with fewer fashion buys. So let me recommend the one piece of clothing that can make you look fab, even when you’re in a sweater and just-ordinary jeans. I’m talking about a statement coat, the more structured and slimming the better. This season, the coat is the new jacket, an accessory that’s more about fashion than function.But, you argue, hanging in your closet is a navy or black wool classic that you bought just a few years ago. I have one too — but it’s time for a rethink.Old Advice: Invest in a superwarm bear of a coat that will last you a good five years.New Advice: Buy one or more medium-weight coats that will add a flash of chic to just about everything you wear. Why the change of mind-set? It could be global warming — we just don’t need to bundle up the way we used to, turning ourselves into big, puffy Michelin men. Or it could just be the style winds blowing by. No matter. The point is, designers got busy on lighter-weight versions, which made news this past March when France’s first lady, Carla Bruni, wore a fitted Dior coat to tour the U.K. I’m with Carla. Really, even if you’re not the wife of le président, how long do you stand in the freezing cold anymore? Meantime, the new coats are so slimming, you never want to take them off. (And I don’t. I wear mine at the movies, around the mall, and even in restaurants.) "Your coat is your ‘first impression’ style statement, whether you are walking down the street or showing up for an important appointment," says designer Michelle Smith, who created the Milly coat on the next page. She thinks that, optimally, every woman should have five, to cover all occasions. That old coat taking up space in your closet? At onewarmcoat.org you can make a donation — or even start a local coat drive.onewarmcoat.org Trend 1: MetallicA gold coat (yes, it’s in again) upgrades a black sweater and pants to haute stuff after dark. Milly wool blend three-quarter sleeve coat ($705, neimanmarcus.com).neimanmarcus.com Trend 2: HoundstoothThis swing style — in an oversize, 1960s-inspired pattern — is roomy enough for easy layering. J.Crew Collection wool blend coat ($375, jcrew.com).jcrew.com Trend 3: BeltedClean lines, a close fit, and a defined waist make this a perfect "meeting" coat. Cacharel wool trench coat ($1,100, Jane Boutique, 212-772-7710).Trend 4: PlaidIf you’re slim, go for a newsy shape with Empire styling. For bigger bodies, dark colors work best. Searle wool blend peacoat ($498, searlenyc.com).searlenyc.com Trend 5: Winter WhiteWear this and look rich (as if you laugh at dry-cleaning bills). Bonus: White reflects light up to your face, camouflaging lines and dark shadows. Cinzia Rocca Italian wool coat ($1,095, nordstrom.com).nordstrom.com Trend 6: Built-In ScarfThis single-breasted style puts focus on the neckline, not an ample chest. Rebecca Taylor wool coat with detachable hood and scarf ($650, Olive & Bette’s, 800-396-1236).Originally published in MORE magazine, October 2008.

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