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A style, runway & wellness blog created by Chicago-based fashion journalist Amanda Kaplan.

OUTERWEAR: FIT FOR A FASHIONISTA | A STYLE GUIDE

OUTERWEAR: FIT FOR A FASHIONISTA | A STYLE GUIDE

Unless you live in the West Coast, specifically California, Arizona, etc., you probably have one or two coats lying around for the months where the weather is well below 60-degrees.  And like most articles of clothing that are more substantial, coat prices can range anywhere from $40 all the way to $150-200.  Because of the terribly high price point, it makes purchasing a new coat every year a detrimental task to your wallet.  But, because trends change faster than a day-to-night look, it's hard to not feel the need to splurge each year for a new coat.

Outerwear has been around for as long as humans have been around, the earliest recognition of outerwear was the use of fur for warmth when the temperatures were around freezing.  Around 40,000 B.C.E. it was said that people used bone needles in order to sew together pieces of fur to create capes to wear.  Back then, it was more common for people to wear the fur as ceremonial, therefore being worn over other garments.  But, if the people were wearing the fur merely as warmth, it would be worn directly on the body to maximize the amount of heat that would be retained.  Nowadays, we have more humane and cruelty-free ways of attaining that same "glamorous" fur look: faux fur.   Later on, a more formal style coat came in style.  What started as a long gown worn by men in the Middle Ages, later transformed into womenswear, a cape-like covering that provided some warmth rather than overall protection from inclement weather.  By the mid-1800's, the jacket, which we know and love as a short piece of outerwear, came into fashion.  Soon after, in the late-1900's, capes and shawls came back in style and we were left with a wide variety of outerwear options: jackets that were waterproof or worn merely for fashion and capes and shawls that were worn for evening events for style and warmth.  Regardless of the type of garment and the occasion for it to be worn, the "in-style" outerwear is constantly changing.

 This winter, instead of breaking the bank on yet another new piece of trendy outerwear, invest in a coat that is timeless, good quality and can last for years to come.

 

- about "FIT FOR A FASHIONISTA" -

Coats can be hard to wear.  Sometimes, the arm holes are too tight, the length is never quite long or short enough, the drawstring waist just isn't small enough, et cetera et cetera.  But after having purchased a few coats for myself given the frigid Midwest winters, I have found a few brands in which I find fit perfectly and don't make a huge dent in your wallet.

In each coat style, you will find a section called, "FIT FOR A FASHIONISTA" which lists the best place to purchase each style of coat for your body type.  No longer will you feel discouraged pre-coat shopping.  Instead, embrace your body and love the coat that you're in.

Additionally, all of the BEST COAT BRANDS mentioned below have sizes ranging from 00-16 and ranging from short/petite to tall lengths.  So, don't think for even a second that you won't be able to find a coat that is fit for you, because these brands have created outerwear that is MADE for you.

 

THE INSIDE SCOOP ON THE BEST COAT BRANDS

My favorite brand for fashion-forward coats is Free People.  In addition to their trendiness, I also love them for a few other reasons:

no.1 TIMELESS ELEMENTS:
At Free People, you will typically find coats that make use of trendy colors, those from the Pantone color reviews.  But, the brand always keeps the fit and silhouettes of their pieces timeless, being able to be worn for years and years to follow.

no.2 AVAILABILITY OF DISCOUNTS:
While shopping at Free People can include a hefty price tag if not bought in the sale section, thankfully, you can find the brand at discount retailers.  Macy's and Nordstrom Rack are two of my favorite places to find discounted Free People.

no.3 SUSTAINABILITY:
Free People is apart of the URBN company.  As a whole, sustainability is very important and under their three initiatives: "Reuse and Renewal," "Alternative Energy" and Recycling, the company is striving to make the world a better place, one garment at a time.

** for more information on the URBN brand, please visit their site here ** 

 

When the temperatures drop below zero, Eddie Bauer is my go-to for a winter coat for a few reasons:

no.1 QUALITY:
Eddie Bauer is the #1 "mountaineering" outerwear company.  The brand specializes in warm coats that are comfortable and functional.  Since they're made with the thought of hiking in mind, the quality of the materials used for the insulator and the outer-shell insure warmth and resist to wear-and-tear. 

no.2 TECHNOLOGY:
As mentioned in reason no.1 as to why I love Eddie Bauer, the company ensures its quality.  But, in order to ensure that the garment performs like it's supposed to in inclement weather, Eddie Bauer has created technology to help do this such as their "FreeHeat" fleece and their "360 Ultra Down" for optimal warmth.

no.3 SUSTAINABILITY & ETHICS:
Eddie Bauer is a great brand to shop, especially regarding their sustainability and ethics movements.  Eddie Bauer's "Global ReLeaf" program plants a tree every time you donate a dollar to their environmental initiative.  Additionally, Eddie Bauer is 100% transparent in their labor and wage practices.  There is no child labor, no discrimination, there is overtime pay, work benefits and more.  

** for more information on Eddie Bauers sustainability and ethics read here and here **

 

THE PARKA

The parka is a must-have for anyone who lives anywhere it snows, rains or has temperatures below 30-degrees.  The parka is a wearable version of an insulated home: you have the outer shell, which most likely and should be waterproof, the inside insulation which typically contains down fur, but occasionally can be faux down and then the inside of the coat which normally is fleece, for added warmth.  While styles can vary for a parka, my personal favorite is one which has princess seams.  This style creates a more feminine fit and with the bulk from all of the layers and down, you can sometimes end up looking like the Michelin Man. 

FIT FOR A FASHIONISTA

Anyone can rock a parka.  The great thing about most stores is that they carry a variety of different styles.  So, if you're not into a fitted look, opt for a parka that instead of having princess seams is cut in a straight fit so instead of clinging to the curves on your body, loosely hangs over it.  There are so many styles of parkas, Eddie Bauer especially has a wide variety of options and your best bet is shopping in-store so you have the ability to try on several different options. 

YOU KNOW YOU WANT THEM


THE FAUX FUR COAT

For those nights out-and-about or when you want to look equally as practical as stylish, a faux fur coat is your best bet.  Cheap, fast-fashion retailers such as Forever21 have created faux fur coats that are so thin that the cold just seeps right through the material and the fur mats down to a thick, knotty messy.  Because of these cheap clothing retailers, faux fur has received a bad-rep.; a trashy alternative to real fur (if you need another reason to not shop at Forever21 read this post here).  Higher-end stores though, have been banishing this negative connotation with faux fur.  Retailers such as Free People, have perfected the faux fur coat, not only making it an ethical alternative but also creating high-quality pieces with beautiful silhouettes that look fabulous when worn.  Don't succumb to cheap fur that becomes stringy when worn more than once, and instead, splurge on quality faux fur that are timelessly made from stores and boutiques where quality and ethics is of the utmost importance. 

FIT FOR A FASHIONISTA

Faux fur is for everyone and looks great on anyone.  While most jackets are cut a certain way, faux fur, on-the-other-hand, has a variety of different shapes and styles.  Depending on the parts of your body that you love or dislike, there's a faux fur coat for you.  My personal favorites are ones with a little more movement than your typical straight and tight fit.  Especially with fur, that can become bulky looking very fast, it's important to invest in a piece that has feathery fur that won't weigh down the entire garment.  Free People and T.J. MAXX have been my two favorites when I've been on the hunt for faux fur coats, because they offer many styles that will allow every person who seeks out one of these garments to fall in love with one.

YOU KNOW YOU WANT THEM

MORE FROM T.J. MAXX HERE AND HERE


THE CAPE

A cape combines style with ultimate comfort — think of the cape as a huge blanket that's socially acceptable to wear out-and-about on a daily basis.  With the weather fluctuating from 40-degrees all the way back up to 80-degrees, it's safe to say that knowing exactly what the air will feel like when you walk outside is a fifty-fifty chance.  The cape is a perfect essential because it can easily be worn with any outfit, providing warmth if the wind decides to pick up or the air cools down later in the day; the cape is also a great piece to have rolled up in your backpack, tote or handbag as a 'just-in-case.' Choosing the right cape for you can be difficult, but thankfully, there are only three styles to choose from. 

1) The outerwear cape
2) The scarf cape
3) The poncho

You can't go wrong with any of the options, but depending on what your day-to-day life is and the typical fall and winter temperatures, you might prefer one over the other.  The outerwear cape can typically be purchased in a heavier material — think faux wool, and is strictly used as an alternative and trendier jacket, but is unable to be folded into whatever bag you carry. The scarf cape, in addition to the poncho, are both great layering pieces when you're unsure of the temperature and want something that can be put on easily yet stored away if it becomes warmer.  My favorite part of a scarf cape or poncho?  It doubles as a blanket.  

FIT FOR A FASHIONISTA

A cape is a killer piece for anyone of any height, weight or body shape. Since the silhouette of a cape is flowy and falls almost in a triangular shape, it works to hide any body dislikes you may have and is flattering on everyone. I have found the prettiest capes at Free People and surprisingly T.J. MAXX — they have a variety of capes at very affordable prices, you can't go wrong!

YOU KNOW YOU WANT THEM

MORE FROM T.J. MAXX HERE AND HERE AND HERE


WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE TYPE OF COAT TO WEAR?  WHICH BLAST FROM THE PAST DO YOU WISH COULD COME BACK?  LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW AND SHOW OF YOUR BWAB-APPROVED COAT STYLE WITH ME ON INSTAGRAM, @BRUNETTEWITHABUDGET.

HAVE ANY "FIT FOR A FASHIONISTA" SUGGESTIONS?  WHAT DO YOU WANT TO READ NEXT?  LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.

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