Category Archives: Outerwear

How to shop for coats and jackets

Breaking news: Coats are in for next fall. Lots of them.

I guess it’s not surprising that during a week full of shows for fall fashion, one would see a lot of outerwear. Or at least one would hope. New York Fashion Week for Fall 2013 concluded last week, which means the designers premiered a bunch of stuff you won’t get to see in stores until July. But I’m happy to report that in five months, we will have an influx of fabulous coats. Which makes me a bit giddy, I have to say. Lots of new colors and patterns, as well as plenty of your go-to blacks and greys. And I’m loving the oversized lapels, because, really, who doesn’t want some drama as they head out into the world?

Here are my favorite coats of the week. None of which I can afford.

the New York uniform of blacks and greys (JBrand, DKNY)

oddly soothing hues (Narciso Rodriguez, 3.1 Phillip Lim)

less soothing hues, but still pretty (Eudon Choi, Jason Wu)
cropped and awesome (Proenza Schouler, Helmut Lang)



colorblocking at its finest (Alexander Wang, DKNY)

print happy (DVF, Elie Tahari)


For more of my NYFW picks, check out my super amazing Pinterest board. And follow me while you’re at it. :)

Coats! Help! Part 2

Last week, A lovely TRS reader had some valid coat concerns regarding length and color. I gave some pointers on appropriate lengths in my last post, and here’s my answer to her color conundrum below:

Also, how do you incorporate a funky or colored coat into a wardrobe – I don’t have one because it seems too frightening! 

It’s no joke that colored or patterned coats can be a scary concept. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a few exciting coats in your winter arsenal! They don’t have to be everyday fixtures, but something you can wear a few times a week to cheer up your cold-weather state of mind.
Here are a few pointers on how to incorporate a fun coat into your winter look:
1. Choose a color that’s one off of a bright hue. Instead of fire engine red, try a deep brick. Mustard instead of sunshine yellow. Eggplant instead of Barney purple. You get the point. Bold colors are fun, but if you’re easing into them, their calmer siblings are the way to start.
2. Make sure the cut of the coat is classic, with few bells and whistles. If the color is going to be the statement, then you don’t want a crazy shape or exaggerated accents to take away from that.
3. Keep your appendages muted. Any part of your body/ensemble that can be seen should remain in a more neutral hue. Think black tights, grey trousers, brown boots, cream scarf, etc. You always want to complement a color with subdued tones. If you want to try a patterned scarf, opt for something small, like a mini houndstooth.
4. Make your statement coat your every-OTHER-day outerwear. In other words, it shouldn’t be worn every single day. You’re sure to get sick of it–as will everyone else who sees you.
In the case of patterned coats, the guidelines are basically the same. Instead of a large pattern, start off with something smaller. Complement with solid, muted tones, and bust it out on a semi-irregular basis to keep your winter look fresh and funky.

Have any burning style questions? Shoot me an email, or post your sartorial issue on Facebook or Twitter!

Coats! Help!

Here are two really interesting questions from a reader regarding winter coats:

How should a coat fall over a skirt? I know that sounds ridiculous, but its driving me batty. Also, how do you incorporate a funky or colored coat into a wardrobe – I don’t have one because it seems too frightening! 

First of all, neither concern is ridiculous. They’re both totally valid. So valid in fact, that each deserves its own post! So let’s go one at a time. First up, coat lengths.

Coat lengths are all over the map these days, from cropped to waist to knee-length to maxi. The same goes for skirts and dresses. It’s a lot of sartorial confusion, which could make anybody want to stay indoors in their PJs.

Instead of doing that, just follow my two simple rules:

1. If the coat falls above the knee, the skirt should be longer than the coat.

2. If the coat is knee-length or below, skirt length doesn’t matter (can be above or below).

              Um, is she wearing anything under there?                          Yep, but it’s too short for that coat!

The major thing you want to avoid with a coat over skirt/dress is looking like you’re not wearing anything on your bottom half. This happens when the coat length falls in the above-knee range, and your skirt can’t be seen.

But if your coat falls at or below your knee, it will cover enough on its own so you won’t have to worry about looking naked underneath. Therefore, your skirt length can fall above, at, or below without it changing the look of the ensemble.

You’ll hear some differing opinions on the matter. Some people believe the skirt and coat length should match exactly, to which I say, who has the time?? Personally, I love when the bottom of my skirt peeks out from the hem of my coat. I think it looks very elegant, and adds a little pop to my outerwear ensemble.

Stay tuned for a separate post on colored coats and how to make ’em work for you.

all images from

Caping it real, people

So I’m watching the Today show (morning ritual), and they did a whole Bobbie Thomas segment on capes. I’m so torn on the cape issue! They’re fantastic on the runway, in magazines, and on skinny plastic mannequins, but when it comes to the real world and the real body, it’s a tough piece to pull off. Capes are shapeless, and are meant to hang loosely over your frame. While this can be stunning on a long, slender, curve-free figure, it doesn’t translate well to any other body type.

HOWEVER, the one on the left above (from NY & Company) has shirring detail on the front AND back waist, which works to create the illusion of a cinched middle. And I think the color is very autumn chic. Finally, a cape I can get onboard with. (This effect can also be achieved with a belt at the waist, but the shirring seems a little less complicated.)

Unfortunately, you still can’t pull a handbag strap over the arm, which is the second most annoying thing about capes. But if you’re cool with a clutch, then more power to you. Rock that cape all season long.

Vince’s gorgeous (and expensive) fall coats

Vince is one of my favorite brands. They make beautiful pieces that are easygoing yet refined. And while the price tags are on the higher side, I do enjoy window shopping from time to time.

I just checked out the fall looks on Shopbop, and I am especially in love with their outerwear this season, like the buttery camel coat above.

This wool blend coat is edged in leather for a subtle downtown feel. Vince is especially good at these kinds of hip, yet not obnoxious accents.

Yes, this shearling car coat is almost $2000. And no, I will not be taking it home any time soon. However, I can admire its fabulously dramatic fold collar from afar.

Check out the whole fall 2011 look book here.

It’s a summer vestival at Eileen Fisher

I ventured across the border last weekend to Secaucus, NJ, home of the Eileen Fisher outlet store (excuse me, company store). While Eileen is not known for her hip factor, I always find lots of easy, classic pieces that fit well. Karen swears by EF–especially the outlet–for clothes that stand the test of time. Throughout the whole shopping trip, she kept talking about the sweater she bought there like 15 years ago and how it’s still looks brand new, and doesn’t pill, and goes with everything. But that’s a whole other blog post.

While browsing the racks, I noticed a ton of interesting vests. Yes, vests in the traditional sense can be hard to pull off. They can make an outfit look too, well, outfit-ey. However, the right vest can be a great warm-weather layering piece with the power to hide what you don’t want hanging out. Just keep away from the black tuxedo kind, and think more loose and light.

Front draping is great for boob minimizing.

A longer vest covers the butt without being too clingy.

I love this one for its subtle yet effective muffin top-hiding capabilities. (This is the one I went home with.)

When creating an outfit with a vest, remember to keep some parts more structured. For example, a skinny jean, pencil skirt, or slim trouser on the bottom. If you pair the slouchy vest with a full skirt or billowy pant, you’ll look too shapeless and free-flowing. You can also try a vest with a simple summer dress for a more textured, yet still casual, look.

If you live nearby, take a quick ride to the Eileen Fisher outlet in Secaucus to see some of the pieces in person. Or check out the online store for some other good options.

Reader Question: Which puffy coats won’t make me look dumpy?

This same question comes up every time winter rolls around. And rightly so. Puffy coats, while very warm, tend to make the wearer look like a Michelin tire.

Here’s what to look for when shopping for a figure-flattering puffer. One of the below elements will instantly make a puffy coat more attractive. If you can find a coat with two or three, well, even better.

1. BELT!

Belt = cinched waist = smaller-looking figure. Lots of puffers are now designed with belts, so you have a ton to choose from. Belting detail is especially good if you prefer a longer length.

2. Seaming detail.

Seams trick the eye into seeing wonderful things. For example, vertical seaming on puffy coats creates the illusion of a longer, leaner figure. Fine quilting achieves a similar effect.

3. A cool collar.

An interesting collar draws attention upward to an aspect of the coat you actually want to show off. Choose either a pillow collar or something trimmed in fur.