The warm wool isn't just for casual wear anymore


December 19, 1991|By Carrie Donovan | Carrie Donovan,New York Times News Service

Smartly dressed women are increasingly turning to the warmth and style of shearling this winter.

Shearling coats do two things at once. They are warmer than other wools, or leather or most furs. And because of their rough-wear origins -- shearling was first worn for the hardy outdoor life -- today's shearlings are usually cut to look sporty.

In the right shearling coat or jacket, you can't look overdressed, even if you put one on over a ball gown. Cognac and brown, as well as several shades of green are popular. Bergdorf Goodman even has such fragile high-style shades as navy blue and blossom pink.

Although shearling wraps were once heavy as lead, manufacturers have acquired the legerdemain to make them lighter. The Searle Co. seems to be a maestro at this. Its four Manhattan boutiques have shearling coats that would look fine in the country but even better in town.

Most in demand is a straight-line style with a funnel neck, quilted sleeves and body, and a drawstring at the knee-length hem. "I'm buying it as my everything coat," said an enthusiastic customer.

The coat costs $988. Others start at $1,400.

These prices are substantial, but shearling is long-lasting. And if you are caught in a snowstorm, let the coat dry thoroughly, then stroke its surface with the special brush Searle provides.

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