POSTED ON NOVEMBER 11, 2009:
Keep coat shopping in the back of your mind (even with the unusually warm weather)
Get Real. By purchasing a coat in a neutral tone, you're guaranteeing that it will easily pair with anything you wear under it. Now, I have a moment of clarity: I realize that this is a bunch of crap. It's a coat. Like a purse, it doesn't have to match; it's its own entity.
Even though it was weirdly warm, I spent my weekend looking for a new coat. It's sort of chilly some mornings, so it seemed like a legitimate time to shop for coats. Okay, I'll admit that it's technically still jacket weather, but that doesn't mean that you should wait for it to be teeth-chattering cold before you go and purchase your winter wardrobe.
While it might not be the "weather outside is frightful" yet, it's almost time for shopping venues to become frightful. Meaning you should probably get your winter clothing needs now while shopping venues are not overcrowded with throngs of holiday shoppers.
But the thing is: Do you need a new winter coat? Although this article is commentary on this year's coat trends, it's practically a fact that there is no such thing as a coat trend. Nothing is being reinvented, and nothing is so far-fetched in terms of look or style to be earmarked to a certain date -- not now and not in the recent past.
Nothing about the coat you bought three years ago will say "late 2006/early 2007." It's likely many of the coats purchased this year (or any year for that matter) will have scored a higher number on the ladder in the want/need ratio. If your current coat isn't living up to its responsibilities, then this year a new coat is a need.
Put on your coat and make sure it still fits you comfortably. If you wear a lot of layers, bulky knits or a jacket (like a blazer) under your coat, make sure the coat fits over these pieces and still lets you move and function. The next thing you need to check is that it actually fulfills its sole job -- keeping you warm.
There's no way to test this right now because the weather barely hits fall temperatures. Try some kind of walk-in freezer--if you have access--that would work in testing out the warmth of your winter wear, but please be careful. So many sitcom plots have involved people getting locked in freezers that it must be a common occurrence.
On a more serious note, you'll really just have to take a trip down memory lane and recall if the coat in question fulfilled its warmth-providing duties in previous winters. And lastly, check out the state of your coat. Winter coats, for the most part, are investment pieces. Whether you spend $60 or $600, they are constructed from durable materials such as wool that should have a long return value.
If the coat doesn't pass these criteria or if you have managed to find the one coat that is dated, it might be time to purchase a new one. Additionally, if either dry cleaner or a seamstress's simple mend cannot fix the state of your coat that also indicates it might be the right time for you to find a new coat.
This year, it seems coat designs don't really put the "fun" in functional. There still seems to be the mentality within the fashion industry that shoppers might not have a lot of extra money to put toward clothing, so the clothing they create seems more timeless. Again, it's all in the spirit of something that you buy now that will still be appropriate to wear for several years.
It seems the mark has been missed in that something can be timeless but also be a little bit more invigorating. Where does this year's coats lack? Their colors. Coat racks are lined with garments in shades of black, camel, navy and grey. These shades are available every year, though they are usually mixed with coats in bright colorful shades. Jewel tones or primary shades are few and far between this year; these livelier shades are out there but you have to dig around.
By purchasing a coat in a neutral tone, you're guaranteeing that it will easily pair with anything you wear under it. Now, I have a moment of clarity: I realize that this is a bunch of crap.
It's a coat. Like a purse, it doesn't have to match; it's its own entity.
But no season is complete without a color to call its own and a bit of pattern. We've been provided both, but they're just as exciting as navy.
This year it is white and plaid respectively. These are just an extension of the basic neutral colors. Offering shoppers winter white pieces seem to occur every other winter. Granted, a long, winter white coat can be very chic. It can also require some maintenance. If you purchase a winter white coat, get yourself a good dry cleaner. Even the most grown up of adults would have difficulties keeping a white wool-based garment looking sharp with daily winter wear. On the other side of trendy winter pieces is plaid. The pattern is continuing its fall reign into the next season. The coat patterns aren't overwhelming because the colors remain subdued.
If not color, what can these winter coats provide you elsewhere in style? Flattering shapes. This winter seems to have placed an emphasis on sharp lines to give the body shape. One of the most interesting coat shapes this winter is the cocoon coat. Like it sounds, this shape is pod-like providing a lot of volume throughout the body of garment and cutting close to the body as it gets to the hem.
While it won't define the shape under the garment (that of the wearer's body) it does create a unique silhouette. For coats that do provide a shape closer to yours, find a coat with a dropped waist or umpire waist.
Adding an umpire waist will accentuate the smallest part of your body (underneath your bust) and the drop waist will give better shape to the bottom. Belted coats are also a big hit this winter and give way to accentuating the waist.
Sharp shoulder lines are another fine addition to the coat. Make sure the seams hit at the shoulder to ensure the coat fits you right and looks sleek. Oversized, accentuated collars pair well with the military detailing that is also a big hit right now -- think pea coats. Standing collars, those that evoke a turtleneck, will also be a prominent feature throughout winter; though you'll have a difficult time pairing those looks with a cute winter scarf.
Speaking of which, if you've made the decision that you don't really need a new coat this winter or if you find yourself less than impressed with your options, you can always direct yourself toward the winter accessories. Scarves, gloves and hats seem to have stolen all the color from the winter coats.
For your phalanges (that'd be in the fingers) you have the choice of regular gloves or the popular fingerless gloves that also convert into mittens. These knit accessories (and some leather glove options) are bold pieces.
The scarves are long and ruched to give texture as well as the chance to tie it in a variety of ways. Many of the gloves options are also very long. They're arriving in an assortment of patterns including the season's plaid and also in stripes. They might not last as long as your winter coat, but they also aren't as expensive as one either.
Although I'm happy to report on my favorite winter pieces, I find this bittersweet. While I'm leaving the position, I'm not leaving the pastime. There's no doubt that I'll still be bouncing around Tulsa poking around in all things fashionable.
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