Capsule Series: Jackets

A few weeks ago my daughter checked out a book from the library called “The Goat With Many Coats”, by Leanne Lauricella.  It’s about a baby goat who must wear a coat because he’s unable to keep himself warm.  Overtime he develops a following and fans from all over send him different coats to wear.  The moral of the story eventually becomes clear, that he doesn’t need the coats to be accepted by the other animals, but for the purposes of this blog, this story got me thinking about how big of a role outerwear can play in a wardrobe.  It was a little bit of an aha moment.  I’ve primarily considered outerwear in the functional sense; that its purpose is to keep me warm.  But, for at least 6 months out of the year, outerwear is the first thing people are going to see, and in many cases, it may be the only thing they see, especially in the post-pandemic, work-from-home era where I’m mostly in-and-out and not really exposing the outfit underneath.  I realized I’d been thinking about outerwear all wrong.  Yes its functional, but it can become a form of self-expression, and like the goat in the story, help build confidence.  And outerwear can be the cherry on top of a complete outfit.

 

So, I decided to do a deep dive on different types of jackets & coats, not only for my own education, but also to evaluate options to add to my closet as I continue to refine and build my capsule wardrobe.  In this post, I’m going to give a crash course on what I learned, including a coat dictionary, some style inspiration, and of course, great options to shop.  You’ll notice that the options to shop have a label of “Foundation”, “Investment”, or “Statement”.  I referenced these labels in a previous blog about how to create a capsule wardrobe (Tip 4).  Specifically as you’re considering adding a piece to your closet, think about the role the piece is going to play in your wardrobe.  Is it a foundational item?  Something functional and affordable that can pair with many other items in the capsule?  Or is an investment item?  Luxury quality that’s classic and timeless.  Or is a statement piece?  Something that truly reflects your personal style.

More and more I appreciate the versatility of the blazer. These days I'm especially drawn to mixing a structured blazer with less structured pieces (eg, loungewear, straight-to-wide leg denim, hoodies).

Khaite The Balton Blazer

Investment

Smythe Surplus Blazer

Statement

Madewell Larsen Bouclé Blazer

Foundation

When I hear bomber jacket, my mind immediately goes to Tom Cruise in "Top Gun". Not sorry about that. My go-to style approach for the bomber would be to stay true to the All-American vibe and pair with a white tee, classic Levi's, boots. But there are so many variations on the bomber these days that you can really dress up or down.

Zara TOPSTITCHED POCKET BOMBER

Statement

ME+EM Leather Boyfriend Bomber Jacket

Investment

Zara Oversized Bomber

Foundation

Cape = drama, regal, class. I would style with fitted and/or structured, tailored pieces. For example, draped over a strong shoulder or vest with trousers, a cocktail dress, or more formal evening wear.

Max Mara Valdez Button-Front Cotton-Blend Cape

Investment

Free People Off Duty Quilted Poncho

Statement

COS CONTRAST-STITCH WOOL-BLEND CAPE

Foundation

I really like the coatigan for the days when I'm feeling bohemian (I'd pair with cutoffs and a tee - I love the juxtaposition of the long and short), or when I know I'll be running all over town in mom-mode and I don't want to lug around a bulky coat (I'd pair with jeans and a tee, maybe a ball camp, and sneakers or slides).

Mango Oversized knitted coat with pockets

Foundation

Missoni Chevron Stripe Hooded Sweater Coat

Statement

Jenni Kayne Belted Sweater Coat

Investment

The denim jacket is a can't-go-wrong classic. I tend to reach for mine on those spring days that just aren't as warm as they look. I especially like to pair with dresses and maxi skirts. Or, layer under another jacket for added warmth. To follow along with more current trends, pair with similar-wash jeans and go full Canadian tuxedo.

AYR The Ride or Fly

Foundation

ba&sh Isac

Statement

Acne Studios Distressed Denim Jacket

Investment

Hello, Paddington Bear! The duffel is his signature coat. (We read a lot of Paddington Bear in our house). Honestly this type of coat has not been on my radar at all, but in doing my research, there are some really great variations on the duffel that are making the style feel current. I'm especially fond of the plaid version above. I would definitely reach for this type of coat for warmth, and you could really pair with almost anything, except something super formal. I'd try that Plaid version with a loungewear set and clogs.

L.L. Bean Women’s Classic Lambswool Duffel Coat

Foundation

Mango Appliqués faux-fur coat

Statement

Sezane SEBASTIEN COAT

Investment

Another style of outerwear that has not really been at the top of my list, but the fur option below has definitely got me thinking it should be. A gilet feels like a statement piece no matter the style; I would definitely lean into it as the item I build an outfit around, rather than as an afterthought. For all of the options below, I would stick to classic straight leg denim, a long sleeve bodysuit, and heeled boots.

Mango Leather long vest

Investment

ME+EM Luxe Toscana Shearling Long Gilet

Statement

Zara Belted Boucle Vest

Foundation

Like a denim jacket, the leather jacket - in my opinion - is a must have in every closet. It's versatile and effortlessly cool. I tend to pair mine with jeans and sneakers, but I also appreciate the dynamic of a leather jacket with a feminine dress.

Madewell Washed Leather Oversized Motorcycle Jacket

Investment

Zara Leather Jacket

Foundation

Walter Baker Allison Leather Moto Jacket

Statement

The over coat is my latest obsession. I am digging the callback to the 80s where we see the wool over coat paired with casual wear. (My mind goes to The Breakfast Club and Uncle Buck). My uniform these days is this style of coat over jeans, a sweater, sneakers, and a pom beanie. I'm partial to a camel color since it's neutral and gives off luxury vibes, but there are some great statement options out there. The Mustard Velvet coat below has been on my wishlist for months.

Mango Woolen coat with belt

Foundation

Galvan London Velvet Coat in Mustard

Statement

ba&sh Kat

Investment

The parka is a must have in cold-weather states like Minnesota! This is less about style for me, and more about keeping me toasty when it's negative 30 degrees here, but you can absolutely find options that satisfy both. I will pair a parka with almost anything, except formal wear.

Zara OVERSIZED COTTON PARKA

Statement

Zara HOODED PADDED COAT

Foundation

Canada Goose Shelby red Parka Heritage

Investment

The pea coat is another timeless and versatile outerwear option. It's structured and polished and you can pair it with the entire gamut, from sweats to formal dress. Once again, I love the idea of pairing something tailored with something super relaxed, so I'd reach for the sweats to stay current with today's trends. I'd also layer over a denim jacket for added warmth and a touch of cool.

Free People Kaja Vegan Bonded Peacoat

Statement

& Other Stories Relaxed Pea Coat

Foundation

ba&sh Tonio

Investment

The puffer coat is another cold-weather staple. I have one in every length - waist, mid-thigh, and maxi length. But I'm particularly excited about the different types of puffer jackets that are popping up. Like the Toteme option below that's like one big pillow with an interesting collar. If I'm reaching for a puffer, I'm generally not trying to make a statement with my outfit, but with the new variations, the puffer IS the outfit.

COS RECYCLED-DOWN LONGLINE PUFFER COAT

Foundation

Toteme Signature down jacket black

Statement

Canada Goose Byward Parka

Investment

Between friends, I've never really owned a classic rain coat, but I should. I adore the maxi length, green option above. So simple, but she looks amazing. I would opt for a maxi length, NOT yellow, that could be styled with just about anything.

Everlane The ReNew Anorak

Foundation

Kate Spade City Slicker Raincoat

Statement

Canada Goose Kitsilano Jacket Arctic Florals

Investment

The textured coat really covers a broad range of types. Quilted coats are definitely having a moment, as are teddy or shearling coats. And I included the boucle option below as I'm seeing these pop up more-and-more. But there's fur, velvet, suede, and plenty more. I tend to opt for a textured jacket for a night out when I want to make a statement.

Toteme Signature quilted coat black

Investment

Isabel Marant Dianaza patch-pocket bouclé-tweed jacket

Statement

Mango Wool Terry Coat

Foundation

The trench is timeless, especially a tan or camel-colored version like I've included multiple times here. That said we're starting to see some modern takes on the trench to keep things exciting. For example, the short version above, and the scarf/trench combo below. Any of these varieties are going to complement any outfit.

Zara Long Cotton Trench

Foundation

Toteme Double-breasted scarf trench dark taupe

Statement

AYR The Espionage

Investment

The utility jacket is so on trend right now. We're seeing a resurgence of the cargo pant, and now lots of fun variations of the utility jacket. I LOVE both the denim and collared options below. I would reach for this type of jacket on casual days when you want to go hands-free!

ME+EM Denim Cargo Jacket

Statement

Toteme Cargo-pocket cotton-canvas jacket

Investment

& Other Stories Collared Jacket

Foundation

The wrap coat is the unstructured version of the over coat, and very close cousins with the coatigan. A camel or neutral color is going to keep it versatile and classy. Since the jacket is unstructured, I would pair with more fitted or structured clothes beneath (eg, leggings, jeans, trousers).

Zara HOODED PADDED COAT

Statement

& Other Stories Voluminous Belted Wool Coat

Foundation

AYR The Closer

Investment