Demise of the Spring Coat

March 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Fashion, House & Home

I wore a white lightweight wool mohair spring coat for a time-defying 10 years. The shelf life of almost any fashion item that is white in New York City is unbelievably short, so I was very pleased that my special care of this precious item prolonged its life. Then The Husband took it from me last year, declaring that he would not be seen with me in a “coat that had bald spots all over it, like a dog with mange.” Well! To assuage my depression, he took me in September to my retail therapy store to replace the coat with another lightweight version. I thought of it, however, as my new “fall coat.” It was a terrific Akris three-quarter-length, sleek wool gabardine coat in a glorious shade of poppy. I loved it, but it had limitations—the three-quarter length precluded its use to slim pants and pencil skirts, and the color meant that anything I wore with it had to look good with this very particular shade of red/orange.

Photo: Cheryl Fleming

I planned, nonetheless, to buy a replacement coat in the spring. Little did I know that Spring Coats as I knew them no longer seemed to exist. When I was a girl, Mommie made all my clothes, including an Easter coat every year. I would help her design the coat and choose the fabric. I still dream of my favorite coat, made for me when I was 12—a swing coat of lightweight white wool with a jewel neckline. No adornment. One button at the neckline. Unlined, but with bound seams—so feminine and unusual. All spring coats have been measured against the memory of this perfect coat.

I called Stacey at Quintessence, who is also the editor of our Fashion Friday pieces, for three weeks, asking that we do a piece on spring coats, thinking that this would cut down on my shopping time. Finally she gave me the bad news: There is a variety of offerings for spring, but the coats I had in mind were a rarity. There are some that “would do,” but none to match the coat that Mommie made.

I discovered that what I think of as spring coats should be purchased in the fall, so one would need to buy a white or bright coat at that time of year, well before the spring season. Still, here are a few coats I liked that might take us through the chilly days of early spring, which officially starts next week. While these are designer coats at designer price points, they represent a few styles that differ from the ubiquitous, standard trench coat and raincoat.


Lela Rose REVERSIBLE COAT (orange twill to burlap)


Burberry PRORSUM STRIPED RAFFIA Woven Trench Coat
Milly “Bellina” TOP STITCH COAT.
Next week: a Fashion Friday Fantasy Shopping Trip.

Fall Fashion Short List: Camel Is King

October 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Fashion

In my recent article “White Lightning,” about fashion trends for spring 2011, it was evident that white is THE color for the upcoming season. As’s Nicole Phelps wrote in her review of the spring Thakoon show, “It’s official, white is the new camel.”  But if we back up to take a look at fall, we discover that this season, camel is still king.

Classic style is back, and I for one couldn’t be more thrilled. There are many variations on the theme, from ladylike elegance to pieces emphasizing tailored menswear. But throughout, almost all the collections feature camel. Since camel is indeed a classic, chances are you already have a piece or two in your closet. And if not, there are many ways, at many price points, to add this of-the-moment neutral to your fall wardrobe.

Let’s begin by looking at a few of the collections. Chloe’s fall collection is spectacular and one of the strongest proponents of this color . When considering how to wear camel this season, consider mixing it with denim, as shown here, for a casual-chic take on the style.

Or keep it all tonal as shown in the examples below (left to right: Chloe, Gucci, Michael Kors).

One of the easiest ways to introduce camel is with a topper. Whether a coat, jacket, poncho or trench, choices abound. I love Max Mara’s loose duster (below left). I actually have an old camel coat of this style in my closet. By belting it like this, I’ll be able to make it look modern. Ann Taylor has a shorter version (below right) for $348 that would look just as chic.

I think either this wool blend funnel neck coat from The Gap (below left) at a very reasonable $168, or this double-breasted overcoat from Michael Kors Michael line (below right) for $250 would be an incredibly useful addition to anyone’s outerwear repertoire. They are both versatile pieces that would work beautifully over a dress, skirt, or slacks to the office or over jeans on the weekend.
Phillip Lim can always be counted on for updated tailoring. These beautiful coats are modern in styling, but the camel gives them a classic feel.
If you love this look and would like to add something more modern this season without breaking the bank, take a look at this clever Italian wool blazecoat by J. Crew (below left) or chic coat from Banana Republic (below right) for a fraction of the price.
For a more casual jacket, Burberry is always a great choice. This toggle jacket (below left)from their Brit line is adorable, as is this Tommy Hilfiger pea jacket (below right).
But camel is so prevalent that you can find great, less expensive alternatives everywhere. Take, for example, this Alloy belted military jacket for a mere $99.
In the dresses category, there are also plenty of wonderful options. Clean, elegant, classic designs showed up everywhere on the runway. Here are choices from Calvin Klein (below left) and Ralph Lauren (below right). Wear one to work as shown, then change your shoes and jewelry for going out to dinner.
And here’s a Michael Kors lookalike from ASOS for $67.50….

…while this versatile ToryBurch sweater is a workhorse to wear at the office with any suit.
If you’re like me and are always cold, this Michael by Michael Kors open-front cardigan at $89.50 is sure to become a wardrobe staple. Wear it as shown, casually with a tee and jeans or leggings, or dress it up over black or gray for evening. It would also be great with a man-tailored blouse and wool pants or pencil skirt to the office.
And let’s not forget the essential accessories—the easy way to update any outfit. Try these stunning Sutton tall leather flat boots from J. Crew ($298) with an all-black outfit for a chic and modern look…
…or these charming feather-adorned Munich flats ($100) with a pair of capris.
The tonality of this Love Quotes Hand Knotted Tassel Scarf ($85) goes with everything and will look great in the spring with all your new white ensembles.

So whether you make an investment in a fabulous coat, a versatile accessory, or a simple sweater, camel is definitely a color worth having in your wardrobe this season.

For more camel fashion, check out the “Camel Is King” photo album on the WVFC Facebook page, or see them all on Flickr.