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.
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.
Chado Ralph Rucci ILLUSION-TRIM COAT
Lela Rose REVERSIBLE COAT (orange twill to burlap)
Dolce & Gabbana BRACELET-SLEEVE TWEED COAT
Fall is just starting to make an appearance, but it was spring last week at Lincoln Center and around Manhattan as designers showed their collections for the next major season. Not every trend was over-40 worthy, but there were plenty of styles that met the criteria of fashionable, flattering, and/or fun for women in our demographic. What’s more, many will be easily replicated without the need to completely overhaul one’s closet or take out a small loan. A single investment in a simple frock here, a few well-chosen accessories there, and come spring it will be easy to incorporate the most stylish looks into one’s basic warm-weather wardrobe.
|While there were several concurrent trends to discern, most of the collections embraced the continued use of bright optimistic colors, from the neon hues at the youthful Nanette Lepore show …|
|to the prevalent tangerine orange seen here at Christian Siriano …|
|and Derek Lam …|
|to the color-blocking combinations from many such as Yigal Azrouel. Adding a little color to your wardrobe will be an essential yet easy way to stay current come spring.|
|Pattern was everywhere, with florals a popular motif. While you may not be ready for the bold statement of Prabal Gurung’s vision,|
|many collections offered tamer selections, such as Ralph Lauren’s nostalgic Gatsby-esque florals in pastel hues …|
|and Lela Rose’s feminine painterly dresses.|
|In contrast to the florals, graphic geometrics were in play. Michelle Smith’s Sonia Delaunay- inspired collection for Milly offered everything from simple stripes to an eye-popping panoply of patterns.|
|J. Mendel’s ode to Dorothy Draper showed beautifully draped, flowing dresses with pretty pleats.|
|Even Carolina Herrera offered a lesson in geometry for the uptown girls.|
|And for something in between, Derek Lam offered bold prints in a combination of the two.|
|For more diverse pattern, look to Michael Kors’ “Afriluxe” collection. Animal prints just never go out of style and his ode to South Africa’s Lebombo Lodge included many pieces that although styled for the runway I’m sure will include very wearable versions once the collection hits the stores.|
|Donna Karan went tribal for spring, inspired by her recent work in Haiti. The bold, earth-toned prints, a nod to the work of the Haitian artist Philippe Dodar, were still sleek and modern.|
|For those who like their fashion straight up, black and white were still out in force. The breathtaking collection at CHADO Ralph Rucci, presented to the slow, sexy beat of Ravel’s “Bolero,” proved that non-color is still relevant. His exquisitely tailored pieces received mid-show ovations for their spectacular use of fabric and detailing.|
|I love The Row’s restrained tailored look. For spring they offered streamlined silhouettes in white contrasting fabrics for a serene Zen-like feel.|
In addition to the major trends, there were many subthemes—athletic-inspired pieces were seen at many of the lines, including varying interpretations of the anorak, a handy piece to have for weekend wear. Metallics were back in force, again easy to add with accessories such as a belt, sandal, scarf, or little top for evening. A great summer look will be metallic with white—from white jeans to a full-length skirt. Menswear saw play with jackets and soft tailoring. But the general feeling overall was that of an easy, flowing casualness. Even in the gowns, it was all about the drape and flow.
In considering how to add these trends to your wardrobe for spring, remember you only need a few pieces to enhance the core of your wardrobe basics. If you don’t already own one, consider adding a sheath in a flattering bright color. It is an incredibly useful item that can be easily accessorized to work for any number of occasions, day or night. Think of it as your little black dress for the season. And while you may not want to fully embrace the floral or graphic looks, adding a blouse, jacket, or even a scarf will help update your closet without too much damage to the wallet. Don’t forget that all these runway looks will be interpreted for the masses by the lower price lines. Everyone from Ann Taylor to Talbots to the department stores will have many options. And the most important advice is to have fun and feel free to express your inner fashion spirit!