Transform U: Work the coat!

By Auretha Callison

Make a statement while staying toasy.
by Auretha Callison

I’ve seen many a closet overstuffed with coats—most of them black and coated with dog hair. What a coat could be, and should be, is the gift wrap on the present of you! Present-ing yourself to a room has the potential to be a wow factor and a swoosh of stylish grace. You will make a statement. What do you want your statement to be? “I’m rushed and the dogs and kids have beaten me to hell,” or “I have arrived! I’m a fabulous (add your own noun) with lots of zing, wonder and imaginative energy to share!” You are continually broadcasting yourself and what you believe about life.

Stylist folk have always remarked that having polished shoes is the most telltale sign of wealth, potential and self-respect. This is true for coats as well. Here are some tips I recommend to look and feel stylish, polished and toasty until the return of the sun.callison

• First, clean out your coat closet. You probably have more coats than you need. Try them on in great light. Are they ratty or dirty? Take a good look at what other people are seeing from the front and behind. Do you look like the Michelin man? Have you overgrown or slimmed out of a few? A coat that’s too large can defeat its purpose of keeping you warm and make you look several sizes larger—like you’re smuggling something under there!

• Your coats should be warm, comfortable, beautiful and easy to put on, take off and hang up—as well as easy to clean.

• Always choose your best colors. A coat is an investment and worth the time of researching your options. Try a small boutique such as Solissa or a consignment shop (try Encore). This ensures that you will have an original coat instead of having the same one as everyone else.

• The best coats I’ve seen are knee-length with a stain-resistant outer shell and have a wicking, microfiber inner liner with stretch. Only one black coat, please. Shiny navy is a nice alternative; knee-length and built for wearing to formal parties and business events. Other great colors for coats: shiny reds, blues or metallics. Besides being fun to wear they manage dreary winter blues. Store separately from all dog hair-covered items!

• How a coat fastens is critical. Love it or leave it.

• Can you drive in it? Do a few typical moves to check fit.

• Choose a beautiful rain coat. Mine has ruffles and ties at the waist.

• Coats for warmth: I have a gorgeous REI down number that’s as cozy as a sleeping bag. It covers my tush and is a pretty copper color. When you purchase insulated coats, go longer rather than shorter. They look much better and keep the small of your back covered. Colors like burgundy or green in patterns are great; they look cleaner longer than beige or white.

• Technology has improved. Let go of the old.

• Feeling guilty about a vintage fur is silly. Honor the animal and wear it. Just don’t buy new fur! Consignment shops are full of fabulous old fur coats.

Now, about those dog hair-covered coats: Store them in a separate area. Have two or three for hikes, and keep them up to date. I have one that I keep for shoveling snow and sledding down hills. Like puppies, coats are quick to multiply, so donate, donate, donate!

Keep your closet filled with fabulous and winter will be a breeze. Work the coat!

Auretha Callison is an image stylist living in Salt Lake City. Styles shown: Cole Haan.


This article was originally published on November 1, 2009.