Sunday, November 2, 2014

Madame Predicts: Little Jacket Love

You can love a sweater jacket too

Flummoxed by what to buy this fall? Get in line. If there's nothing new, why do your clothes seem old? If you can barely wrench anything out of the closet, why do you feel compelled to squeeze in another something?  This is the quandry in which Fashion, the retail juggernaut, hopes you will find yourself. The compulsion to buy new at the change of season is deeply engraved, even though the seasons themselves are changing very slowly (still in the '80s in south Texas). Your better nature has no place in this equation if your fashion willpower is weak.

What to do?
While eyeing what goes into the closet and what stays in those cardboard boxes, I realized what excited me most were the little jackets I've collected. Some are pretty old; two were purchased last year. Each acts as a style maker— paired with a simple skirt or pants and something underneath, it's a finished look.

Reminder: Three pieces make an outfit, and a jacket is an easy piece.

I've never been a blazer kind of gal, so my jackets all have personalities. Printed, pieced, woven, tweedy, plaid— none of them are "basic". But the rest of my look can be. I like necklaces, so a number of my jackets have necklines that will complement one. The colors are those that look good next to my face. Thus no mustard jackets, but I do have mustard pants.


None of us need any more clothes. We know that. That's not the point. What is the point is that we scratch that "new clothes itch" with pieces we will wear at prices that won't rack us with guilt. A little jacket is a great excuse to go shopping as you'll have to do some hunting to find one you love. You'll also know when you see one, because your little jacket will speak to you.

The Chanel jacket is such a classic it's a cliche. There's a reason. It's easy to wear, doesn't look like it's trying too hard and signals you have good taste. I doubt even Mademoiselle Chanel would mind that her iconic design has been ripped off a zillion times. She cared about how women look, and not just her women.

One of the Originals

The "dressmaker" jacket is the feminine version of a man-tailored blazer. It has softer style details which rely on cut, not fancy fabric or ornamentation:


A little jacket can also be a coat, one that won't keep you warm but will still cover you. I pat myself on the back for snapping up this Giambattista Valli leopard number from his Macy's collection some time ago. A hundred bucks, and I feel like a million:

Valli of delights
Here's one I have my eye on for a better price. Note the hi-lo aspect of dress-up, dress-down. Little jackets are good at that:
Got my eye on you...

The statement jacket tells everyone you are quirky, artsy or well-traveled. This jacket can be a:
> Japanese kimono
>  Chinese embroidered jacket
> Appliqued Mexican jacket
> Pendleton plaid
> Ralph Lauren NA (Native American)
> Kantha quilted jacket.

Some statements are getting a little tired these days: the motorcycle jacket (moto style and the Happy Days variety) and the denim jean jacket. Give them a rest if you wish your statement to say you are not one of the pack.

Hard to find, worth the hunt
Super-sized Kantha jacket on
Supermodel Heidi Klum

Watch what you wear under.
> Simpler is better— a tank, a silk shell.

> Consider the sleeve length. You don't want shirt sleeves sticking out of a bracelet-length sleeve.

> Consider the weight. This jacket is meant to stay on. If you work in a hot office, forget the idea.

> If it's vintage, check for stains and moth holes. Just cause it's old does not give you a pass from good grooming.


  1. Excellent advice! I've been jacket focused for the last couple of years and my coats have been languishing, but this year, I'm pulling out coats and re-evaluating. I removed the collar on my basic black princess-style coat and Bob's-yer-uncle ... a much more modern look. And here in the South, weight is so much of an issue; how right you are. I've been having a bit of fun with heavy-coat-as-cape over a lighter jacket and top that will stay on indoors. For once, a practical and ageless trend!
    You have your eye on and own some sweet pieces! Congrats.

    1. Amazing coincidence— I too just took the collar off a black swing coat and— voila!— much more interesting. I think it cost $15, and I feel like a have a new coat.

  2. Not only am I in excellent company, but I'm happy that I saved 15 bucks and did it myself ... in fairness, this collar design practically begged to be removed, it was such easy structure to alter! Neat.