Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Four Seasons: Dressing for Comfort and Style : Dressing for winter: Staying chic without the bulk , Dressing for summer heat , Choosing a bathing suit that works for you and Transitioning from season to season

The Four Seasons: Dressing for Comfort and Style

In This Chapter

▶ Dressing for winter: Staying chic without the bulk

▶ Dressing for summer heat

▶ Choosing a bathing suit that works for you

▶ Transitioning from season to season

For those of you who live in a tropical climate, shopping for one season is hard enough. Imagine having to rotate your wardrobe for four seasons! Fortunately, you can stock your closet with items that transition you from season to season, which means you do not need four different wardrobes to get you through the year. The trick is choosing wisely and buying right.

Winter: Staying Warm and Stylish

Nothing is quite like cozying up in front of a fire with someone you love, right? Well, that is the picture-perfect view on winter. But if you’re someone who views the colder months with a frown because of the bulky clothing you have to wear, this section is for you.

Layering for winter

If there’s one distinguishing characteristic of the clothes worn in winter, it’s weight. Heavier fabrics like woolen tweeds and corduroy help you retain body heat and stay warm. If not worn correctly, however, they can also make you appear heavier. That’s where the art of layering can come to the rescue. The trick is to layer your outfit in a way that enables you to remove a layer or two when indoors and still have something fabulous underneath.

Just because you need the added warmth, don’t assume you can’t wear your lighter- weight clothes in winter. You may be surprised how smart layering lets you stay warm without looking bulky:

Layering tops: A natural tendency when layering is to add layers on top, like putting a heavy sweater over a blouse. But if the look you’re going for is the blouse, not the sweater, layer a silk camisole beneath the blouse to get an added layer of warmth without the bulk. If you choose to wear a thin, fitted sweater (one that’s meant to be worn on its own and not over a shirt), try a long-sleeve silk undershirt. These undershirts don’t add bulk to your appearance, but they do help you retain body heat (see Figure 12-1).

Layering bottoms: If you don’t want to wear thick wool slacks, wear a pair of tights under pants made of a thinner material. You can even wear tights under your jeans. Just make sure the pants aren’t tight (otherwise, the extra layer underneath shows). Also, a pair of boots that go up to your knee gives you another layer of warmth on your legs.

clip_image007

Figure 12-1: A silk undershirt can keep you warm without adding bulk.

Choosing coats and jackets

Outerwear is just as much of a fashion statement as the clothes you wear beneath them. In fact, in the colder months, it’s the first thing people see on you when you show up to work, dinner, or a party — so select a coat or jacket that really expresses your style.

One difference between a coat and a jacket is length. Coats are generally longer, giving you more coverage and protection from the cold, and jackets are shorter. Another difference between the two is weight. Coats tend to be heavy and too warm to wear inside. A jacket is an item that you may wear inside or out. In other words, a coat typically has one purpose: to keep you warm and protect you from the elements (keeping in mind that a great-looking coat makes a fashion statement, too). Jackets, on the other hand, are a bit more versatile. They’re perfect for warmer temperatures or transition weather, and you can use a jacket much the same way you would a cardigan or a wrap — to keep yourself warm in an air-conditioned office or restaurant without looking like you have one foot out the door.

Coats and jackets can be pricey, particularly the good-quality ones. They also take up a fair amount of closet space, so you want to be especially careful when buying one. The criteria for the perfect outerwear? Your piece needs to be stylish, fit you properly, and most of all, keep you warm. Most likely, you won’t have a different coat or jacket for every day of the week, so pick versa- tile ones. As you shop for a coat or jacket (or evaluate the ones you already have), keep these things in mind:

Choose a length that complements your body type. If you want to appear longer and thinner, a long coat is a great option. If you’re on the taller side, opt for a shorter one. When considering length, think about what’s most practical. If you’re always getting into and out of a car (as mothers of young children tend to do), the shorter one may be more practical and the longer one may be too cumbersome. Many lengths between the full-length coat and the short jacket are available, which means you absolutely can find one that suits your body type.

Analyze your body before you make any big investment purchases such as a winter coat. Coats come in a variety of styles and lengths, ranging from fitted pea coats and belted trench coats (which are generally on the shorter side), to the less fitted A-line and unstructured poncho-style coats, to the full-length coat. If your hips are wide, you don’t want the coat to end in the middle of your hips, making the over- all appearance even wider; choose a longer coat instead. If you’re on the thinner side, buy a fitted or belted coat, which allows you to show off your figure. And if you want to camouflage your bottom, get a wider body coat with some swing to it. An unstructured coat that drapes, rather than clings, camouflages any body part you’d prefer to keep under wraps. (For more on body shapes, see Chapter 3.)

Keep your coats and jackets in the neutral color range. Because few women have the budget or closet space to have a different coat for every outfit, make sure the ones you do select match most of your wardrobe.

The following sections describe the different kinds of coats and jackets you can choose from.

If you’re buying two pieces of outerwear, buy one down jacket to keep you warm and that you can wear when it snows or rains. Make the other one a pea coat or full-length coat that you can wear to work and out at night. A good place to find designer jackets for less is Burlington Coat Factory. I got a jacket last season for under $50, and it was a two-in-one. The sleeves zippered off and it became a cute vest!

Down outerwear: Dressing for warmth without looking bulky

Down outerwear is called a parka. Parkas come in short, sporty jacket lengths (see Figure 12-2) and in full-length coat style. They’re very warm and very light, and if they have a Gore-Tex or other microfi-

ber shell, they also protect you from the elements. Fortunately, you don’t have to look like a marshmallow- man when you wear a parka. You can find chic ones that have minimum bulk. (I live in mine for work

and play.) Although big, puffy down parkas are out there, you can also find very stylish and trendy brands (like Marmot, The North Face, and Bogner) that can keep you warm and looking fabulous. Here’s how to choose a down coat that looks good on your body type:

Apples: If you’ve got an apple shape, choose a down coat that creates a waist. Look for one with a belt or an inner draw string (make sure that you pull it tight).

Pears: If you’re pear-shaped, go with an A-line jacket, which emphasizes your top while maximizing coverage around your hips.

Plus sizes: A three-quarter-length coat is the right choice because this length keeps the coat from being too short (which would probably cut you at the wrong spot) or too long (which would just be too bulky).

The underbelly of the camel: Camel hair coats The camel hair coat is definitely a classic (see Figure 12-3). Warm and never out of style, these coats are worth the investment because they can take you from day to evening and are just as appropriate over jeans as they are over a fancy dress. Camel hair coats come in the traditional camel color, as well as a variety of neutral colors such as black, navy, and gray.

clip_image014

Figure 12-2: This jacket is perfect for après ski or après Starbucks!

The original camel hair coats were worn by polo players and were actually made from the under- belly hair of the Bactrian camel. Today’s “camel hair” is more likely to be a combination of wool and cashmere dyed to look like camel hair.

Camel hair coats come in different lengths; the longer the coat, the longer your profile. If you’re trying to appear taller or leaner, a longer coat may be a better investment. Also, for evening, longer coats are more elegant. Plus, if you wear a skirt or dress they extend past your hemline. However, if a shorter jacket looks better on you and still serves your wardrobe needs, invest in a shorter one.

If camel hair coats have a drawback, it’s that they can easily get dirty, especially in slushy conditions. To solve this problem, either buy one in a shorter length to avoid splash stains or choose one in a darker color.

Wool coats

Wool is a very popular fabric for winter coats because it’s a very good insulator. Wool coats come in a variety of lengths, from the shorter pea coat style to the full-length coat, and in the basic neutral colors as well as bright colors like red. The following are some suggestions that can help you find a wool coat that fits your body shape:

If you have narrow shoulders: Pick a coat with wide lapels to accentuate your upper half while balancing out your lower

clip_image022

Figure 12-3: The camel hair coat fits in anywhere.

half. Epaulets serve the same purpose and give your coat a little flair. Figure 12-4 shows how lapels and epaulets can provide balance.

If you’ve got curves or a thin waistline: Pick a coat with a belt to emphasize your waist.

If you’re tall: Try a shorter coat to cut your long line and show off your legs.

If you’re petite: Wear a fitted coat so you don’t look like your coat is overwhelming you. Keep it in close proportion to your size.

If you’re heavier on top: Choose a long coat to provide balance between the top and bottom halves of your body.

If you’re a little wider in the midsection: A long coat gives you a longer, leaner line.

clip_image025

Figure 12-4: Wide lapels (left) or epaulets (right) provide balance for women with narrow shoulders.

Pea coats

The pea coat remains a classic. Originally designed for sailors, it’s double- breasted (the extra flap of cloth over the chest adds warmth), usually three- quarter length (which allows sailors to swab the decks without problem), and has slash pockets. Traditionally made of wool, these coats also come in inexpensive versions made of synthetic fibers (but these aren’t very warm). These days, pea coats don’t have to be in the traditional Navy blue, yet they still look best in the basic neutral colors, such as camel or black.

The classic double-breasted pea coat doesn’t work well for women who don’t have a waist or who have a large bust. If you have a large bust and want to wear a pea coat, choose the single-breasted variety, which draws less attention to the bust area. Figure 12-5 shows both single- and double-breasted pea coats. (As this figure shows, not all pea coats have to be navy blue, either.)

A double-breasted pea coat doesn’t look good on anybody if it’s left hanging open and unbuttoned. If you’re going to wear a pea coat in situations where you won’t have it closed all the time, such as commuting or while at the mall, consider getting the single-breasted style.

clip_image029

Figure 12-5: Two pea coats, one single-breasted (left) and one double-breasted (right).

Leather coats

If you take the hide of a cow or pig, without the short fur on these animals, you’re left with leather or suede. Although leather coats and jackets are usually considered more appropriate for the transitional seasons because they’re not very warm, they can be lined with fur, wool, or a synthetic liner, and then they can be used in winter. A leather coat can be a bomber jacket style (which is not very flattering or feminine and probably best avoided), or it can be a fitted blazer-type jacket (which can be very fashionable).

Fur coats

Fur coats remain a classic and elegant look. Designer fur coats can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and even the most modest run into the thousands. Fur is light and warm, but a lot of controversy surrounds wearing fur. Some groups, like members and supporters of PETA, the animal rights organization, think killing animals to wear their fur is wrong. Designers who are supportive of this stance have come out with fake fur options. Fake fur is a great way to keep up with the trends while being kind to animals.

Whether you’re choosing fake or real fur, keep these style elements in mind:

Length: Just as with all coats, fur comes in a variety of lengths. Before you make the investment, decide what looks good on you and where you plan to wear the coat. For a more casual look, a short fur or faux fur jacket may be more appropriate. If you’re buying a jacket to wear out at night, a long coat may work better because it’s dressier.

If you’re petite or on the smaller side, choose a coat that doesn’t look like it’s wearing you.

Color: Real fur and faux fur come in a variety of colors. Choose one that best matches what’s in your wardrobe.

Sheepskin, in which the skin is used in addition to the wool, is another type of fur. Coats made of sheepskin are not as expensive as many other furs, but they are quite warm. And of course, fake fur is always a great option — to save money and the animals.

Adding a shot of color

Winter clothing and coats can be drab, and wearing dark colors all the time can definitely take a toll on your mood. I know, I know — the last thing you want to do is put on your favorite ivory slacks when it’s sleeting outside. Fortunately, you don’t have to risk ruining your prized pieces of clothing to add some color to your winter wardrobe. If you’re wearing charcoal gray slacks, try pairing them with a sweater set in a bright color.

The same rules apply for coats. If you’re wearing a black coat, pair it with a colorful scarf, a great bag, a pair of boots, or even a great hat. Use accessories to draw attention away from the coat itself and express your sense of style. However, if your coat, boots, and bag are all of impeccable taste and quality, a dark monochromatic look is very chic and elegant, not drab at all.

Summer: Looking Good When You’re Wearing Less

Ah, summer. Picture yourself sitting under a palm tree drinking a margarita getting fanned by a cute cabana boy. Okay, enough daydreaming! The truth is, many women don’t look forward to a season where they may have to wear lighter or less clothing. Never fear, you can dress for summer without feeling too exposed.

Fashion rules apply in summer just as they do in any other season: Find summer clothing that accentuates your attributes, while camouflaging any- thing you don’t want to show. How much skin you show is completely your preference. If you prefer to keep covered, simply choose the right fabric and color.

Summer fabrics

Keeping cool in the summer doesn’t mean you have to wear less clothing. You just have to be smart about the fabrics you select. Natural fibers like cotton, rayon, and linen are better for hot weather than manmade fabrics like polyester because natural fibers allow your skin to breathe. Your skin — the human body’s largest organ — keeps you cool by sweating. As sweat on your skin evaporates, it removes heat. Clothes that promote the free flow of air allow sweat to evaporate more easily. Summer clothes should be not only lightweight and made of fabrics that breathe, but also loose so that the air can get under the material and aid in evaporation.

Some modern fabrics also add an element of protection from the damaging rays of the sun. These fabrics, with brand names like Solarweave and Suntect, have actual SPF ratings, just like suntan lotion, and can help protect you against sunburn. Of course, they only protect the body parts they’re actually covering. They also make hats with these treated fabrics, some of which have a piece that hangs down to protect your neck. Note: Most dermatologists will tell you that wearing SPF- rated fabrics shouldn’t stop you from wearing suntan lotion as well.

Cool colors for summer

In addition to the fabric fiber and weight, another factor to consider is the color. Darker colors absorb light and heat, while lighter colors reflect light and heat. That’s why people wear more white and other pale shades in the summer.

One of the most popular pieces of summer apparel is a pair of white pants or jeans. You can wear white on the bottom and look and feel fabulous if you follow these pointers:

Don’t throw out the fashion rules for your body type just because it’s hot out. Everyone should be able to pull off an outfit with white pants or jeans. If you’re apple- shaped and love to wear white,

clip_image038

Figure 12-6: Loose clothing helps you keep cool.

pair some white linen slacks with a longer tunic-type blouse, which elongates your upper body. And if you’re pear-shaped, belt your top to draw attention to your waist.

White pants reveal everything (panty lines, the tucked in parts of your blouse, and more), so be careful! Make sure you look at yourself from every angle. If you look only at your front, you’ll miss the view that everybody else has as you walk away.

If you wear less-expensive white pants, be careful of the pockets (both front and back). If you can see them through the pants, they detract from the clean look you want (see Figure 12-7). A great idea is to have them removed altogether. You really aren’t going to use them to hold anything (that’s what your great purse is for), and the look will be much cleaner and more flattering. (Note: Having pockets in white jeans, however, is totally acceptable. Denim is a heavy fabric, and often the pockets are part of the design.)

clip_image043

Figure 12-7: Think about having any pockets removed from white pants.

When it comes to other white items like tops, skirts, and dresses, draw people’s attention away from your problem areas by adding splashes of color. You can wear colorful scarves in a variety of different ways to spice up any outfit; you can even tie a brightly colored scarf around your waist or wrap your hair in one (head to Chapter 15 for different ways to swear scarves). In addition to color, black is a great accent with summer white. A black patent leather belt can brighten up a white outfit, and a bold black-and-white floral or geometric pattern on a dress or skirt serves to dazzle the eye and keep whatever’s underneath camouflaged. For further help, use the right undergarments. Flesh-colored body shapers will hold you in and smooth you out, and won’t allow anything you don’t want seen to show through.

Summer styles

Sure, summer wear is more casual than that of other times of the year, but that can lead some people to forget all sense of fashion. You can still be very fashionable, even with the least amount of clothing. Even bathing suits, covered in the later section “By the sea,” can be fashionable. Just remember to keep in mind what works for your body type.

Who wears short shorts?

Shorts come in a variety of lengths. Find a pair that looks good on your body type.

Short shorts: Very short shorts belong on young teens or women with really skinny legs. If you’re an apple shape and have great legs, short shorts can be a great way to draw attention to your assets. But if you don’t have very thin thighs, short shorts cut you at just the wrong place.

Mid-thigh shorts: These shorts are less revealing and more appropriate for women who are no longer in their teens or twenties.

Bermuda shorts: These very fashionable shorts come to just above your knee and work on women of all ages.

If shorts are flattering to your legs, go for it. If not, try a skirt or dress. You’ll be just as cool, while remaining true to your look and sense of style.

Skirts and dresses

Skirts and dresses are a great way to keep cool and fashionable in the warm weather. They feel lighter and cooler than pants and give you the opportunity to really express your personal style. So many options are available, from the structured pencil skirt to a flowy dress.

Wrap skirts and dresses, which are a classic look and never go out of style, can be very flattering because the diagonal line makes you appear taller and keeps the eye from focusing on any one part.

Capris

Three-quarter length capri pants are another great option for summer. You can mix and match them with tops and shoes to your heart’s content. You can even make them part of a suit if you want. Again, just be careful about what

is most flattering to your legs. If you want to make your legs appear longer, capris may not be right for you. For more on capris, head to Chapter 9.

Summer tops

T- shirts aren’t the only summer tops. You can find so many types of blouses in a wide variety of materials that are cool and great-looking, from peasant tops to silk blouses to longer tunic tops. Another popular look these days are babydoll tops with an empire waist. They’re very youthful-looking and go well with jeans.

By the sea

Summertime is bathing suit season, which some women can’t wait for and others dread. Don’t dread it. The fact is that everyone has flaws. You just need to figure out a way to accentuate your attributes and camouflage what- ever you don’t want exposed. Hiding flaws is obviously more of a challenge in a bathing suit, but it can be done.

One piece or two?

The first decision is whether to wear a one-piece or two-piece suit. What you choose depends on what you’re comfortable in and what body part you want to show off or hide. Get a one-piece suit if your belly is an area that you don’t feel comfortable revealing. Many one-piece suits come with tummy control. And ruching, shown in the suit in Figure 12-8, is one of the many tricks you can use to camouflage your body even while baring so much of it. If you like your back, then look for one that covers your front but is cut-out in the back. Go for a two-piece bikini if you have a great waist and want to accentuate it. If you like the ease of a two-piece, but still want to cover your tummy, try a tankini. The tankini is a two-piece that looks more like a pair of underwear and a camisole, so you get the coverage you want without having to be in a one-piece suit.

When buying a two-piece suit, buy separates if you can. This way if you’re large on top and small on the bottom, you can get the appropriate size for each part and a better fit all around. This is true for all body types. If you can’t buy separates, try to get a top that adjusts in as many ways as possible so that you can make it work for you.

Look for bathing suits with built-in control panels that hold you in while you frolic in the pool or ocean. (www. drreyshapewear.com)

Here are some tips to help you choose a suit style that fits your body type:

Small-busted: The bandeau top or triangle top, shown in Figure 12-9, looks great on you (and many suits now come with padding if you want an extra boost!). Also, a cute suit with ruffles on top helps accentuate the chest area. Any detail on top helps give the illusion that you’re more curvaceous. These tops are available in either a one-piece or two-piece style, so you can choose which look you prefer.

Large-busted: If you have larger breasts and want to wear a two-piece suit, try ones that have more supportive straps. The bra-style bikini top is a very good choice for you (see Figure 12-10), as is the halter top suit. These both flatter and support you in the chest area. If you prefer to wear a one-piece suit, look for one with straps that provide the support you’re looking for.

Bottom-heavy: Play up your top in order to even out the proportions. Choose either a one-or two-piece suit with a top half that attracts all the attention. Separates, where the top has thicker straps or a colorful print and the bottom half is a dark solidthat flatters and still matches the top, are always a good choice. Or try a color block one-piece with lighter colors on the top and darker ones on the bottom, as in Figure 12-12. Avoid boy short bottoms, which emphasize and attract attention to your derriere.

Accentuating your cleavage is a good way to divert attention from other areas.

Short legs: Choose a suit that’s cut high at the hip to make your legs look longer. A plunging neckline also creates a more vertical look (see Figure 12-11). Vertical stripes serve the same purpose.

Long torso: Go for horizontal stripes.

A two-piece suit breaks up your midsection. If you wear a one-piece, try one with cutouts, which break up your torso. And don’t be afraid to add splashes of color to keep eyes from looking at you in a straight up-and- down manner (see Figure 12-12).

Thick waist: If your hips and waist are about the same size, wear a two piece with bright colors so that there’s a clear definition between your two halves. Choose bottoms that sit low on your hips (these add a lengthening effect), and try to find a suit that has some bows or other adornment at the hips to differentiate your hips and waist. In a one-piece, look for a suit that has a sash in the middle or a horizontal color block stripe to accentuate the waistline.

Plus-sized: Dark colors are best. A streamlined one-piece in a dark color makes you look longer and leaner. Try an interesting neckline, maybe one that’s deeper rather than rounder, as it creates more of an illusion of length and draws attention to your chest area (which is most likely an attribute).

Cover-ups

If you want to be a little less exposed when you’re not in the water, another option for looking great while hanging out by the pool or at the beach is a cover- up. These can range from sarongs to caftans, depending on the amount of coverage you desire. The great thing about a sarong is that you can use it in several ways, depending on which parts you want to cover (see Figure 12-13). Tie it above your chest, like a bath towel, and it covers you entirely without being too hot or looking out-of-place. If you just want to cover your lower half, tie it at your waist. Sarongs are so easy to put on and take off. You can even use it to lie on at the beach when you take it off!

Spring and Fall: The Transition Seasons

For those of us who live in climates with four seasons, spring and fall are usually the favorites because they don’t offer any temperature extremes. What these transition seasons lack in extremes, though, they make up for in variability. No wonder there’s so much confusion about what to wear during these times. Really, the trick is just to layer so that no matter what the day brings, you’ll be dressed appropriately.

Slipping from season to season

One way of slipping from one season to the next is to make some subtle changes. When the weather starts to get a little warmer in spring, for example, ditch the boots and dark tights for jeans and peep-toe shoes. You may still need a coat to fight that nip in the morning air, but by late afternoon, you can slip off the coat and feel like you’re actually at the edge of summer. Other changes you can make are to go from heavy sweaters to lighter knit cardigans. Or put a camisole under a blouse, so if the day turns a lot warmer, you can just take the blouse off. In the fall, you transition your wardrobe the opposite way: Start with switching from open-toe to some- thing like a ballet slipper before you dive into the boots. Add a jean jacket or a wrap over your top; during the warmer part of the day, just take it off.

Green leaves and spring flowers or fall foliage aren’t the only colorful additions to these seasons. As the next sections explain, your wardrobe should make the transition from winter to spring or summer to fall by using the appropriate colors as well.

In the spring

You may not be ready to give up black altogether, nor do you have to, but you’ll feel a lot more spring-like if you begin to add some dashes of color, as shown in Figure 12-14, and even a few bold prints. Eventually you’ll be able to substitute lighter-weight coats for those that have to hold back those March winds. A spring coat in a lighter color is a

good transition piece. It can still be neutral so that it matches most of your wardrobe, but you have a little more freedom from black, navy, and other dark colors. If you can afford more than one coat, try a fun spring color to start you on the way to lightening up your wardrobe. Scarves can also make a good bridge accessory. Put your wool scarves in the closet with mothballs and pull out the silk ones in a wide array of colors.

In the fall

When the weather starts to turn cooler in the fall months, you can begin to add layers. Begin by slipping a cardigan over a summer dress, and then go to wearing long sleeves and lightweight wool under a jacket. Finally, resort to pulling out your gloves and hats.

Fall is a good time for vests, which allow you to slowly ease into the idea of requiring all that clothing to keep warm. It’s also a great time to break out those fabulous boots from last season that have been stored away all summer (see Figure 12-15). And, yes, the cooler temperatures mean it’s okay to start wearing black again.

Transitional outerwear

During the transitional seasons, you need outerwear that provides enough warmth to combat the low temperatures, but it also needs to be light enough that, when left open, it won’t make you sweat if the sun starts to warm up the atmosphere. And between April showers and the cold fall rains, you also want your outerwear to be waterproof.

Vests

For mid-range weather, vests are a great option (see Figure 12-16). They keep you warm, especially if they’re down (refer to the earlier section “Down outerwear: Dressing

clip_image067

Figure 12-15: Ah, fall, when you can start wearing your favorite boots again.

for warmth without looking bulky”) and still show off your arms, so you’re not too hot and you get to see a little of your body. They’re a little tougher for apple shapes because they accentuate your top half, so use your judgment when trying them on and deciding whether or not they flatter your shape.

Shawls, wraps, and sweater coats The most versatile item for transitional weather is the shawl or wrap. Sometimes, just adding that one layer warms you up enough when it’s chilly. Obviously, the cooler it is outside, the weightier your shawl or wrap should be, and vice-versa. You can also pair a shawl or wrap with other outerwear. If you’re wearing a light- weight jacket designed for both indoor and outdoor wear, you can better fend off the cold by throwing a colorful wool or pashmina shawl over your shoulders. And voilà — you’re all set!

A sweater coat is a longer version of a sweater that doesn’t close in the front but hangs open like a cardigan without the buttons. Sweater coats, which come in lengths ranging from just below your rear to knee length, are knit and cling in all the right places. Most of them even have belts that you can tie. If you want to show your curves, a long knit sweater coat may be just what you need.

The trench coat: A transitional superstar

If there’s one piece of outerwear that you’re going to wear the most, it’s a trench coat — particularly if it has a zip-out lining. Depending on where you live, a trench coat may even get you through an entire winter. Because you’ll wear your trench coat so

clip_image069

Figure 12-16: A vest is perfect for transition weather.

often, it’s definitley worth spending a little extra if you find the perfect one. And because you’ll wear it in many different seasons, stick to the classic neutral colors — those in the beige or gray family. Be careful if buying black; it can look heavy in spring.

Is it worth spending $800, $900, or even $1,000 on a Burberry designer trench coat? It all depends on your budget, of course, but you have to look at this as an investment in style and function. A trench coat is an item you can proudly wear for years and years, and the satisfaction it will give you every time you slip it on will definitely make the price you paid five years before seem to be a bargain. Look for good quality brands that don’t force you to empty your wallet. Who says you have to buy yours at the most expensive retailers? Visit a place like Burlington Coat Factory or Loehmann’s for a great deal on a trench coat.

Slickers and jackets

Although you can still buy a yellow slicker based on the polyurethane raingear worn by fishermen and almost identical to the one you wore as a child, today you can also find slickers that are much thinner, though just as waterproof, and that don’t come down to your knees. These shorter, more fashionable lengths, when paired with the colorful rubber boots, such as the popular classic brand Hunter (www.Hunter-Boot.com), help you look stylish and remain dry.

Jackets made from fiber instead of polyurethane are not as waterproof, unless they have a Gore-Tex lining. But if you’re not backpacking and you’re packing an umbrella, it really doesn’t matter if your jacket isn’t entirely waterproof. In fact, if you don’t expect the temperatures to drop too much, you could just put on a simple blazer. On the other hand, if you’re going to be outdoors for an extended time (maybe you’re watching your kids play soccer through an October drizzle), having outerwear that has a microfiber lining like Gore-Tex is your best bet at staying dry.

Should your slicker or jacket be long or short? That depends on your body type. If you prefer to keep your bottom and hips from showing, then long is better, and an A-line or swing coat serves your needs best. If you don’t mind showing off your derriere, then go with a short jacket. (And a reminder to all you pears: Make sure it doesn’t end at your hips.)

When purchasing a jacket, especially for cooler temperatures, be sure to pay attention to its design elements, which also serve a purpose. Although you may not care that much about the pockets on a jacket that you only wear indoors, that’s probably not true for one that you plan to wear outdoors.

If you want to be able to stick your hands in the pockets if a sudden chill descends, make sure the pockets allow you to. You may also want to have the option to turn up the collar for added protection from the wind, so look for one with a collar as opposed to one without.

Can you wear a spring jacket in the fall and vice versa? Obviously there’s nothing stopping you, but each of these seasons announces the coming one, which is why a spring jacket would normally be in a lighter, brighter color while a fall jacket, like one in black or brown leather, is more appropriate for the fall months. Of course, if the jacket is in a neutral beige or gray, or mid- range blue or red, it can definitely be worn in both spring and fall. A denim jacket is a great spring-to-summer and fall-to-winter option (see Figure 12-17).

clip_image073

Figure 12-17: A denim jacket knows no season.