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The right coat sends stylish message

  • Detroit Free Press
  • Published Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, at 12 a.m.

Think a coat is just something to keep you warm?

Some fashion experts say it’s more like an essential component of personal style.

“The coat has really gone beyond just being a weather essential,” says Gregg Andrews, fashion creative director for Nordstrom stores. “It really is a chic component to a complete outfit.”

Adds Marianne Halling, regional director for Macy’s by Appointment, the store’s free personal shopping service: “Coats have really evolved to the point now where they are as much a fashion statement as what we wear under them.”

Our coats are often the first things people notice about us.

An unkempt coat sends the message that the rest of us is probably unkempt, too.

And while I’d never ever advocate anyone wear sweatpants in public, they – as does everything else we wear around town that we shouldn’t – somehow look less offensive when covered with a great coat.

So, here’s what’s hot – sorry, couldn’t resist – when it comes to this season’s coats.

Slimming down: Wearing a down coat used to mean looking like the Michelin Woman. Not anymore. “You don’t feel like you’re wearing an inner tube anymore,” Halling says. The coats are less bulky while remaining super cozy. “The cutest ones have a high low hem – you’ll see a shorter front and longer back that kind of cups the rear that’s really attractive,” Halling says. The long quilted puffer coat by Lauren Ralph Lauren is fitted enough to be flattering without being too tight. Plus, its mid-thigh length is super stylish this season. $279 at Macy’s and online at www.macys.com/.

Relaxed clutch: You’ll never go wrong with classic camel. What makes this especially notable is that it’s a roomy clutch coat, which means it doesn’t button or zip shut. Very chic. “The biggest shift we’re seeing in coats is the silhouette,” says Andrews. “We’re moving away from all the fitted coats that have the dressmaker detail, all the princess seaming to coats that have more volume.” But, he adds, “it’s not shapeless volume.” The Elibeth Long Overcoat by Theory is made from a wool, cashmere and synthetic blend. Price: $675 at Neiman Marcus. For more info or to shop online: www.neimanmarcus.com/.

Technicolor! The cute little collar and universally flattering A-line silhouette make the Tiera Wool coat by Kate Spade a wow. What makes it now? Its bright purple hue. “It used to be you’d look at the coat department and there was black, gray, brown and red,” says Halling. “Now you name it, that color is going to be there.” The coat is $698 at www.katespade.com/ and www.neimanmarcus.com/.

Menswear-inspired prints and leather accents: This flirty trench-style coat from Calvin Klein gets a modern makeover with a houndstooth print and faux leather belt loops and pocket trim. (Just because we’re borrowing from the guys doesn’t mean we have to look like them.) Polyester wool blend. The Belted Houndstooth Trench Coat is $222 at www.vonmaur.com/.

Military mania: The updated military influences on the Double Breasted Wool Blend Military Coat by Via Spiga are eye-catching without being distracting. In other words, you won’t look like you’re wearing your grandpa’s old army coat. “This is more of an officer’s coat,” says Andrews. “The military influences on it are much more subtle. It’s cleaned up.” The coat features epaulettes, three buttons on the cuffs and a flattering fit-and-flare silhouette. $178 at Nordstrom. To shop online or check local store availability: www.nordstrom.com/.

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