Any minute now, you'll reach for your trusty winter coat. And horrors! That same warm wrap that saw you through several years of weather both fair and foul may look a little wilted, a little tired around the edges.
The very idea of buying a new coat is daunting. Unlike purchasing a new dress or sweater, buying a winter coat is a real commitment. It will have to see you through snow and slush, and it will have to cover you (and most of the clothes you own) from dawn through dusk for at least a couple of years.
Add the fact that you would also like this garment to be fashionable, and real panic sets in.
To make a smart decision and buy the coat that will be right for you, you'd do well to map out your fashion direction for yourself.
Here are a few guidelines:
LONG OR SHORT?
With most young hemlines ending somewhere between knee and backside, long coats at first look old-fashioned, even dowdy.
Remember, however, that several name designers have already said longer lengths will be a factor in next spring's collections, and that you'll be wearing your coat for more than one season. So a coat that comes to your ankles just might be a good investment in the long run. Incidentally, it will look super over pants and leggings.
If, on the other hand, you opt for a short coat, consider the fact that much of the time short coats aren't short enough, and have to be altered. Some long jackets or 3/4 coats may end up being exactly the right length if you like to wear your skirts well above the knee. And next year (or even the year after) the garment can revert to being a jacket or a car coat, and you will have saved a buck or two.
BRIGHTS OR NEUTRAL?
For years now we have played it safe in winter coats that were black, brown, navy or gray. True, they looked OK with nearly everything in our wardrobe, and they didn't show spots. But every once in a while, they needed a little more zip than just the addition of bright gloves or scarf.
If you already own a dark overcoat in wearable condition, you might want to consider a bright-colored coat to put a little extra zing into your winter picture. Shocking pink, bright red, and even color-blocked coats are out there, cheery antidotes to drab weather.
IN AT THE FINISH
When you think winter coat, don't just settle on wool. Consider one of the new micro-fibers for an indestructible twill, or shiny and satiny weather-proofed fabrics. Even good old vinyl looks new again in suppler versions.
Then, too, there's leather, which has taken on new fashion stature this year.