The moment of truth is rapidly approaching, that first fall day when the weather is just nippy enough and the wind has become so downright gusty that your jacket simply will not cut it anymore. It is time to up the ante with a fall coat. Of course, the quintessential conundrum of coat shopping is that buying a coat is a commitment. A coat is often a pricier investment and, once the weather hits the point of no return, is a piece that will have a ubiquitous presence in you wardrobe as a part of your daily uniform for the season. So clearly we feel pressure to choose wisely. Luckily for us, this fall it is hard to go wrong. But, that is not to say that choosing will be easy. Two major outerwear trends have surfaced which interestingly seem to contrast one another. On the one hand, the camel coat, a polished perennially classic piece, has risen to the forefront in a major way. On the other is the parka, also known as the anorak, a sporty staple that has likewise stolen the scene. These two styles represent somewhat opposite poles with equivalent style potential for fall 2010.
As we already know, minimalism in nudes, neutrals and rust-tones is on the upswing as of late (even running into spring 2011). So, it only makes sense that the camel coat had a strong presence on the runways of Michael Kors, Gucci, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Chloé and Prada for this fall, where it continued to live up to its reputation as a classy and never-fail garment that exudes a luxury, quality feel. Yet, do not assume that this implies a certain dryness or predictability. In fact, a survey of the retail scene encounters astonishing diversity. Camel coats come oversized and tailored, tiered and ruffled, trimmed and pocketed, some even with wide “batwing” sleeves. There are collared camel coats and ones with funky funnel necklines. They are double-breasted, tie-waisted and toggle-clasped. There are trench coats, duffle coats and pea coats that come cropped, long and every length in between. The fabric ranges from felt to cashmere to even leather. Now, of course the classic mid-length felt trench is the most abundant and certainly looks quite elegant, but if you are feeling more adventurous you will clearly not find yourself at a loss.
Then there is the anorak/parka. Signature flap pockets, a hood (many times of the furry-trimmed variety) and a drawstring-cinched waist are all elements that define this coat. Thus, it is clear why it is understood as sportier outerwear. But, while it does maintain this general feel, designers and brands have gotten creative with its basic floorplan, Fabrics like silk, satin, wool and velvet are being thrown into the mix. Some are playing with concepts like patchwork, others with color. So, while perhaps not as prim as the camel coat, the parka is a casually glamorous option that will have you looking trendy and put-together. Just a hint if you are on the hunt: my investigation showed that Bloomindales has a particularly nice selection.
So, in the end, while these two looks are rather different, both offer an equal dose of chic. It really comes down to a matter of personal style and preference. So go forth and be fearless; this year you will avoid a coat crisis.