By Kristin Tice Studeman.
Growing up in northern California, there was never much of a need for a heavy-duty winter coat. In the coldest months of the year, temperatures rarely dipped below the 40s, but that never stopped me from wanting the perfect coat.
With great fondness, I remember back-to-school shopping with my mom every summer in late July. Nevermind that it was the height of the summer heat, and nearly 90 degrees outside—the latest fall fashions had just hit the stores and I had to be there the day they put out those jackets. My mom would pick me up from swim practice, I would be wearing shorts,
sandals, and a tank top, and toting my notes on the latest trends and jacket styles I thought I might want. Oh, the irony of shopping for fall/winter in your shorts.
That was a ritual that started as early as eight years old, and it’s one I still carry on as an adult today (unfortunately, my mother doesn’t typically join me on these outings, and I’m not coming from swim practice).
Acquiring a new piece of outerwear has come to be a symbol of change. In the early days, it meant new teachers, new friends, and new extracurricular activities were just around the corner. As silly as it might sound, I can recall school years and the memories that surrounded them by coats. There was a cherry red swing coat, a classic, double-breasted navy peacoat, a cropped leather bomber I just had to have, a camel-colored trench, and the list goes on and on. You get the picture, I won’t bore you with the memories associated with them.
Even if the first day of school wasn’t nearly cold enough to warrant a jacket, I would still bring one. It completed the look I had in mind and I wasn’t going without it, no matter how silly it might have looked to my peers. It meant it was time to buckle down for school and summer was over. In retrospect, it was like a placebo of sorts. There was nothing to it but fabric, but it helped change my mental state from fun and summer to hard working, student mode.
These days, I have a newfound appreciation for the perfect winter coat after surviving several of New York City’s harshest, coldest winters in history. More so than ever before, a new jacket is a symbol of the changing seasons. I like to invest in a new coat so it feels like the darkness of the winter prior isn’t carrying over to the next one. It must be both stylish (since your coat is often the only part of your outfit that the world sees every day for months on end), and highly functional. After 2014’s epic Polar Vortex, I have never felt more grateful for jackets made of extra cuddly fabrics like shearling, soft leather, and fur. The first day of New York Fashion Week is my new version of back-to-school. Talk about pressure—with swarms of photographers lining the entrance to the shows, you had better look your best.
This season, when it comes to coats and jackets, there are so many trends to love, I’m finding it hard to narrow down my picks. Already on my wish list are cozy, knit sweater jackets (they were all over the runways at the Fall 2014 shows), biker jackets, anything with an oversized, menswear-inspired shape, and pieces that make a statement with a bold print or a bright pop of color.
What I especially love to find is an unexpected detail, whether it’s a 70’s print lining on the inside, or studwork on a classic leather jacket. It’s those little details that set you apart from every other black-jacket-clad woman on the subway.
I firmly believe you can tell a lot about someone from their outerwear. So, I leave you with this question: What are you going to tell the world about yourself this season?
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