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· Closet Confidential: A New Winter Coat

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Closet Confidential: A New Winter Coat
by Anne

Yes readers, envy me, for Fortune has rewarded me in the search for a good winter coat.

I usually wear it open rather than belted. Ignore the silly pom-pom corsage.

A good winter coat, trousers, shoes to match, and a (single) well-crafted bag are the linchpins of any wardrobe with a mind of its own. Yet despite—or, perversely, perhaps because of—their significance, the search for a sensible, flattering, and warm winter coat is a notoriously daunting one. Yet despite the infuriating impossibility of finding a good winter coat, actually deciding what to look for is a relatively simple and common-sense process.

Tailoring: The cloth should be thick—for both warmth and sturdiness—yet not hard or stiff or heavy. Any edges should be neatly and professionally finished to streamline as well as to prevent unraveling.

Close-ups of the lining, fabric, stitching, and buttons, details that speak to good quality.

Cut: The cut should flatter or conform to the lines of the wearer's body with minimal distraction: no cut-and-dry rule applies rigidly to all aspects of fashion, but it is my experience that coats at least looks better conform to classic, familiar, stereotypical formulae (e.g. trenches, balmacans, swing coats, etc.), and are usually better off as unadorned as possible.

Color: The color should match most, if not all, the clothes in her wardrobe: a dark color is most practical, as light beiges and greys and whites show dirt far too quickly. Black is serviceable, but show lint too well and make most complexions look drawn: dark brown, navy, greys, and olive are good alternatives, as are the classic tweed and herringbone.

Readers will know without me saying so how tricky it is to find a coat that will live up to every one of these standards. Yet none of them can really be compromised if you're looking for a coat that will stand the test of wear and repeated scrutiny over time... which will hopefully be a long time, if you've chosen well. The search involves a lot of time spent poring over your options, a good eye for quality—itself acquired from experience—luck to be in the right place at the right time and before that overeager lady at the Black Friday sale shoves you aside to nab it, and often (though not always: mine was last year's design so I got it for a deep discount) a goodly investment of money. Once found, however, such a coat is well worth the search.


11/17/2010 [1]

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