A winter coat is always a statement. When you carry something around all day on your back, or under your arm when you can’t bear to wear it in the tunnels, it sort of takes on the qualities of a second skin or a fifth limb. Conceptually, the winter coat can work me into a fashion-geek tizzy: The simple but elegant craftsmanship of combining a sharp silhouette and cut with heavy fabric. But I’ll be honest, by the middle of February, I begin to hate my winter coat.
I’ll relocate myself to reality, where the average person cares about the cut of their winter coat as much as a suggested reading list on a class syllabus. It appears to me that winter accessories (hats, gloves, scarves) receive a lot more creative attention –– they act as accents against some undefined grey-black mass of the winter coat. For such a token piece of clothing (especially in Rochester), it is a bit odd to me that the winter coat falls on the stylish wayside of so many Rochesterians.
Even in the fashion world, the sweater is said to be the new winter coat. And this may be for a good reason. The sweater is comfier than most winter coats, less bulky and can be practical without sacrificing “the statement.” Plus, quality sweaters are cheaper than quality winter coats –– I only find the money to afford one striking winter coat every two seasons or so.
You would be surprised how early the stores stock up with winter coats. The sooner you take the Green Line to Marketplace the more extensive your options will be.
But our generation is in luck. The fashion world is currently obsessed with combining and fusing traditional styles. There is an explosion of mixing and matching coat templates.
Instead of a trench displaying only the traditional “Casablanca,” “Here’s looking at you, kid” look, there are now red leather trenches (Prada), military trenches (Burberry) and trenches cut like capes (Chloé).
The trench, a staple that is conventionally associated with fall, has been transfigured to a workable winter coat to appease popular demand. Designing trenches with warmer fabrics, longer cuts and in wintry palettes opens up the trench to a typical winter wardrobe.
My personal favorite winter coat look (and one I hope to own if I can cut down my bi-daily visits to Starbucks) is the camel coat. Think French Bohemian (Shosanna from “Inglourious Basterds”), classic ’40s, but with a modern twist. Because of the new minimalist wave, this is the ideal coat for wardrobe integration. With the neutral color and the right cut for your body (obviously to be determined on an individual basis), this is the coat of the season. The substantial problem here is money. I think, however, due to its rising popularity, more buyers will be attracted to the look, making it available on multiple price levels.
If you are at all familiar with the fashion world, you will certainly recall Chanel’s fur-centric Fall 2010 collection. Keeping in mind that fur is a controversial topic in fashion, animal lovers around the world will rejoice to know that the collection was composed entirely of faux fur. Whether full-fledged or as detailing, in its natural color or a funky fuchsia fur is weather-friendly and its trendy (see Vogue’s October issue). As for price, after Karl Lagerfeld’s endorsement of faux fur, it shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Shearling, the sort of country-home look that is flourishing at the moment, is especially intriguing when paired with leather (see Burberry’s fall line). Biker-chic meets “Little House On The Prairie” is one of the more creative combinations to come out of recent runways.
The final style I must touch on is the bubble coat. This coat is particularly trendy on our campus, as I observed last winter, specifically the black North Face variety. Don’t get me wrong –– the coat promotes both practicality and comfort that North Face gear always seems to guarantee. I guess I’m mainly confused with the lack of personal style and individuality the coat conveys. If black is a good color for you, why not leather or a minimalist pea coat? If comfort is a major priority, why not try camel or shearling? For those who can afford a North Face coat, I’m assuming money is not a problem.
I fully realize writing a column about winter coats in October is severely depressing. In one way, I’m just being realistic, but in another I think purchasing a winter coat is the best way to ease yourself into the rather ruthless Rochester winters. And what better way to greet that first blizzard than with stylish bemusement? After all, your first step into the wintry air is not a shy one. It is a statement.
Burritt is a member of the class of 2012.

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