The mauve statement coat can be a source of ‘don’t spill food’, ‘don’t let the dog jump on me’ and ‘cant sit on the floor’ related anxiety.  My life is more rustic than glamourous. A black coat is what I wear on an everyday basis. My check list :

  1. A blanket wrap coat with some structure

2. Double layered wool.

3. High quality heavy weight fabric.

4. Should keep me warm without making me look sloppy.

5. The length should stop right at my knee ( works for my body proportions ).

6. Should not look like a bath robe but be roomy.

7. Should not be trendy or look expensive.


….  I hit the jackpot on this one. Its kept me warm in peak Seattle winter, San Francisco’s stormy winds, ski trips to the snow mountains,  …

blackwintercoat

Black coat : Phoebe Philo for Celine. Consigned. 

Black denim : R13 100% cotton

Black t-shirt : Cuyana

Black loafers : Saint Laurent

celinecoat

Winter is the one season where I see the need for jewellry. Black and gray clothing makes a great blank canvas. Dainty jewellry stands out and adds the spark & joy. I actively rotate through the contents in my jewellry box to add that one special element. One piece of jewellry per outfit is enough for me. To me, its the perfect balance between not being boring and austere simplicity. I wear earrings or a necklace or a bracelet. Never together. This turquoise cuff belongs to my friend Maanasa. We share/swap/borrow/steal from each other. I intend to wear it too many times before I return it. It peeks through the coat adding some saliency to the noir backdrop.

turquoisecuff

Turquoise cuff : Vintage, Zuni Native-American tribal jewellry, borrowed from Maanasa. 

Painting : Street art from Jaipur, India. I like how they embellished the black garments. 

Style Notes :

THE THEORY OF TWO WINTER COATS

The primary coat should be a neutral easy to pair one and the warmest garment that can be owned. The second for the days when you are sick of winter and need some cheering up. It can be less practical, be in a non neutral color, have bold details, …. I gave myself permission to invest in both. Why just two ? Dry cleaning is essentially rinsing your clothes in a toxic soup and I wont do it. I don’t what those chemicals on my body. Hand washing is a pain. Two is enough. One more coat to wash at the end of the season is not worth the pleasure I would get from the third. Law of diminishing returns applies.

Style Tip :

BUYING A WINTER COAT

I advocate buying a coat from high end luxury makers consigned. Its easier to find 100% natural fabrics with mohair, angora, cashgora, virgin wool, alpaca, … content at affordable prices upon some patience.  The aim is to get the best design, construction and quality for the money spent.  Not to buy something brand new for the given amount of money. 

Non negotiable details : Pockets. Full sleeves that don’t let in the cold air. Big lapels/collar that I can lift up to cover the neck when needed.

For black garments, quality of the material is what matters the most. It can look shiny when its not supposed to. Black can looks ashy and age terribly. A color like bright pink can hold out on its own even in cheap polyester. But black is a different story. The simplest garments need to be in exquisite quality.

Silhouette : I like the roomy kind. It should be able to fit me into it after I layer a thick sweater. I like the ones with some structure and an A-line silhouette.

Fit : You cant bike if your coat fits you just right. You should be able to stretch your arms out. You need to bend forward for extended period of time. Clothes wear our faster on you if you bike. You sweat more. They need to be washed often. There is more stress on the seams. I size up to reduce the wear and tear.

I think of buying a coat as a ‘7 year contract with the garment’. Find quality accordingly. Spend accordingly. Invest in a garment brush. Store it properly. Make it last.