Honest Thoughts On Classic Outerwear

Sale PSA: A bell sleeved fleece pullover from Gibson, now just $36 (I also like this lace up hoodie as well, under $52 – looks like something one of the Real Housewives would wear lounging, which to me is a plus), a pretty melange knit midi dress from Adrianna Papell, now under $90, and a pretty ruffle neck sweater from 3.1 Phillip Lim, now $180 (also, did I already link this scarf hem maxi dress from DVF? I thought I did, but can’t find it. Worth another mention, as it’s $240 and gorgeous).Β 

So, I own quite a few pieces of outerwear. A really shameful amount, considering that I live in California. And as fall is coming up, I thought I’d share my real, honest thoughts and experiences on a few so-called “classic” pieces – at least this way they’ll be going to some use, since it’s currently still in the high 70’s where I am right now.

1. Burberry Trench. Ahhh, the good ol’ Burberry trench. You know, personally I’ve tried to make a classic Burberry trench work on me so many times, but have yet to be successful. There’s always something off! I always hope that I’ll look just like Jessica Hart (I’m not quite sure why, since the rest of me does not) and it never works out. That being said, due to my frequent try ons, I have a few pieces of feedback:

A) don’t be pushed into buying one too tight, unless you only want to wear it over little cocktail dresses – I know it looks so nice and sleek all buttoned up and slim, but you want some room for sweaters. And breathing.

B) There are two classic khaki-ish colors, Trench and Honey. Try on both, each flatters different skin tones.

C) There’s multiple lengths for all the classic styles, so if something is looking too long/short, find the right length somewhere else. I feel that there’s enough styles and cuts of this trench that you should need minimal tailoring, unless it’s an issue of arm length. I mean, they’re expensive enough right? Save some costs on alterations.

2. Loro Piana Travellers Jacket: I own this in beige and love it. I actually like it so much, Β I mentioned it as one of my travel essentials in Virtuoso Magazine. HOWEVER, I will say that this jacket is expensive. Really expensive. And it’s not going to be a show stopper, aka something that your husband gets excited about when he sees you pull it out of the closet. The only people who are going to compliment you on it are posh ladies with Corgis (always good to impress) and salespeople because they think you have money to burn. However, super practical and forever.

3. Chanel Little Black Jacket: I’ve tried a few of these, and after some mistakes and errors, my advice to anyone looking to add a classic Chanel little black jacket to their wardrobe would be to find one that you REALLY love, and to buy it in your exact size, and hopefully on sale. But the importance should be in this order: Style, Size, Price. I put price last because these things are hideously expensive even on sale, so it isn’t worth it to “settle”. Of course it’s great if you can get it on discount (and if you aren’t size 34/36, all the better your chances), but you want to wear and have and love this jacket forever, so make sure the style and size are right for you first. Do not wear your sale goggles! Also, the most classic styles in black usually sell out first, and mostly at full price.

Also, The Real Real, which I linked to above, occasionally has some excellent deals on these. Worth a peek, and plus you can return (without the judgment of salespeople).

4. Max Mara Coat: I love Max Mara. If you can swing it, get the Manuela. Β It’s classic, forever, and I kind of regret not buying it (I bought a slightly more trendy version instead, with big sleeves, as seen above). Plus, now they have size 0, which means if you found the coat big before, it’s worth it to try again. Both Angelina Jolie and Kim Kardashian have the Manuela. That pretty much should cover the celebrity spectrum, right?

That being said…please do not discount Max Mara’s less expensive brands, like Studio, SportMax, etc. In my experience they’re all great quality and you can save some good money by buying one of the diffusion brands. Do you really need a double face vicuna coat? Maybe you do, and if so please send me photos of the rest of your wardrobe! But check out this beautiful gray coat from Max Mara Studio, for example. Under $1,000, gorgeous looking fabric, and super flattering cut, and you’ll have it forever.

5. Mr. And Mrs. Italy Parka: I’m classifying this under classic since they’ve been around a while. Note that while I love my baby blue version above, it should not be considered classic by any means. Also, whenever I wear it, my husband asks if I’ve just returned from Smurf hunting.

I actually really love both my pieces of outerwear from this brand, and do recommend it, especially if you aren’t really price sensitive. The quality and styling are great. That being said, it’s been ripped off so many times at this point, that there are a lot of cheaper versions out there…and at the end of the day, it’s a military parka with fur. It’s not like a camel hair coat, like with Max Mara. The main material is cotton. So if you want to save some money, you could go with any number of options…my personal favorite right now is this one from 10 Crosby, which is on sale for under $350 at that. Yes!

I’d love to hear your feedback/reviews on your classic items as well! What outerwear items have been underrated/overrated in your experience?

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  • Sonya
    September 18, 2017 at 9:29 am

    AGNONA: Expensive, high quality

    BURBERRY: Agreed with you not worth it on many items, especially Prosum which I have been disappointed by

  • Alena
    September 18, 2017 at 10:29 am

    This is such a great round-up. Thank you! Oh, and smurf hunting – I can’t stop laughing. I brought home a pair of shoes and asked my husband if he liked them. “Yes, you look like a ninja!” Umm….they were returned πŸ™‚

  • Jane
    September 18, 2017 at 10:45 am

    The quest for a great coat is up there with my quest for the perfect work bag! Both are never ending. I have way too many Burberry jackets and coats — duffel coats, quilted jackets and rain jackets. I end up wearing the duffel coats in cold weather and recently started wearing a Burberry cape for in-between weather. It works for me because it’s not too constricting in the car when I’m driving. I also have way too many Barbour jackets and vests in all shapes and sizes. I find that my mom/work/social needs are so different, I need a lot of options.

  • Alisa Gabriel
    September 18, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Love this post, as I too am a collector of outerwear and live most of the year in Austin TX so I can wear a coat about 3 weeks of the year! Nonetheless, I can rarely resist a new leather jacket.

    Add to the collection: the classic Burberry quilted topper, which is a great option for warmer climates (and/or transitional Fall/Spring), often on sale @ Bloomingdales and Nordstrom, which is even better!

  • zz
    September 18, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Please post a link to your interview! I would love to read it πŸ™‚

    • Anonymous
      September 19, 2017 at 9:14 pm

      I’d love to read it too! Your Loro Piana jacket looks cool and love the Max Mara jacket you’re wearing πŸ™‚

  • Hadilly
    September 18, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    I love love love patagonia’s Prairie Dawn jacket. I found myself living in it last fall and winter. It is beautifully cut and so cozy.

    In general, I don’t reach for my cloth coats much. I wear my puffers, also Patagonia, instead.

    I’m looking forward to it getting cool enough, also in the South Bay, to resume wearing outerwear.

    I think trench coats are similar to button up shirts, they do not work well on women with larger breasts. Every time I try, I feel like I look like a belted sack of potatoes.

  • Ava
    September 18, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Dear Katherine,

    LOL – Smurf hunting! My husband says something similar of a vintage oversized fur vest which all my fashion forward friends admire but he says, “what’s w the gorilla suit?” Mortified.

    Love your classics and your Max Mara looks amazing on you! And frankly, I like your Smurf Hunting coat – it’s a classic and looks so good on you! Your Derek Lam suggestion was also very nice!

    While I don’t wear puffy coats, I do see that Moncler and Uniqlo down filled puffy jackets are pretty ubiquitous out here on the East Coast.

    For me, a good solid black, well tailored men’s pea coat makes me happy. And a nice camel Manuela πŸ˜‰

    Great post!


  • Sarah
    September 19, 2017 at 5:50 am

    Great post! I did not know about Loro piano traveller jacket. I am always on the look out for good travel options and recently bought the voyager by aquascutum.
    I do not wear fur though I love the look -it’s just inexcusable in my book. This is no criticism to anyone who does feel that skinning smurfs is justifiable- it’s just my view. Additionallt, a furry hood that size would overwhelm any one with less than Amazonian proportions…

    • Katherine
      September 23, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      Completely understand and respect your view, Sarah. And that Aquascutum coat is beautiful.

  • Sanita
    September 19, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Great post! I also have Burberry coat and I totally agree with your sizing advice, If you go for a size up you can even wear Uniqlo down jacket/vest underneath as most people do in London when it gets very cold. And Vola, no need of extra/second coat πŸ™‚

    • Katherine
      September 23, 2017 at 9:35 pm

      Love this idea!

  • Bee
    September 27, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Great post! I second the comment above that Barbour is also a great classic outerwear brand.

    What does everyone think of Moncler? Every Fall I find myself debating buying one of their coats.

    • Katherine
      September 28, 2017 at 9:25 am

      I love Moncler and they have lovely designs but I just can’t justify in California. Would love to hear opinions from others!

  • Tracy
    October 5, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Considering the little tidbits from Mr. Feather that we get to read, I think maybe he should be the one fashion blogging.