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26th October 2021

It’s never too late for a new winter coat, and a fresh sunglass hustle

A guest blog by Nancy Buckland-Kirk for Blankstone

In 2021, fashion is now a democracy. Whilst the four major ‘fashion capitals’ still have their place, and the ‘Weeks’ they put on to show off their couture and ready-to-wear still hold sway, social media has certainly matched the power of printed media and glossy magazines when it comes to providing other, equally stylish points of view. In fact, now we have some much choice, it feels a bit daunting.

Sunglasses with coats

The start of Autumn/Winter traditionally was about putting away everything from your summer wardrobe. It always had a ‘back-to-school’ feel and I can remember the days of buying new suits for work, new cocktail dresses to go out in, box-fresh boots and then, the best piece of all: the coat. Ever since I was tiny, my late mum educated me in her own stylish ways: you always had to have a pure new wool coat, and shoes and bags had to be leather. In other words: she believed in investing in fashion.

Before I put pen to paper for this, I stopped myself from buying yet another coatigan. Even the word makes me wince. Yes, it’s just a long knitted garment, usually with no structure, which you pop on over even more pieces with no structure, and before you know it, you look like a huge, floating marshmallow – well I do, anyway! I’m not decrying the whole concept of loungewear, but when you use it to hide behind, like I have been doing, it is not a good look.

I don’t really like coatigans that much. They are easy to throw on, and at a time when more and more of us are working from home, less of us need what you’d class as formal clothing. But, for me, nothing is as smart as a new, winter coat. I don’t mean one that you wear for one season, either. I mean ones that last longer than you do, and I still have some that I started wearing during the last century. If you can find a coat you can take into the next thousand years, then you have a winner.

Sunglasses with coats

When it comes to inspiration, I have to start with the best of the best. A Chanel coat is the dream ticket for me. Karl Lagerfeld always created showstoppers from his atelier. Each was the type of coat you could walk across the finest of restaurants, wearing, and stylish necks would crane. Under Virginie Viard, they are much more pared down, but I think VV understands what women want to wear every day, and not just for occasions. The deep wine velvet take on the classic Chanel bag and the furry boots make this look really fresh. (I’m actually a bit taken with Moonboots right now, as I tried to put some heels on recently, and gave up after five minutes!)

A camel coat is by far the best investment outerwear you can ever sink your pounds into. This one by Fendi is just beautiful. Kim Jones OBE has really made this label so covetable, and while I know the casual pieces and trainers are such big sellers, the tailored pieces are so precise. I’m not exactly a shorts person, but these are super-flattering, and the logo tights are pure fun.

Chloe is very much linked to 1970’s-inspired dreamy fashion and this coat is very much of that era. I have really come to love 70’s fashion recently, as it represents freedom and change to me. Designer Gabriela Hearst really understands Chloe’s heritage but is also a tailoring whizz, and this artisan, patchwork leather coat is the type of thing you can wear forever and pass down.  The tan bag and boots are just a part of the awe-inspiring Chloe accessories that are on my radar.

Sunglasses with coats

Winter coats also lead me to new season jackets. Now, I know that anything quilted or filled with down is still big news: when Chanel are doing street-wear, then it is here to stay. But I still love a tailored jacket and I’m starting with Gucci. Gucci Aria worn head-to-toe might be a challenge in real life, plus I haven’t won the Euro Millions as I type, but every single part of this look can be loved on its own merits. The sunglasses are sublime, too. Alessandro Michele is doing such great work for the label, and really respects it’s archive, too.

For something more restrained, and very French, then it has to be Celine. Hedi Slimane has only added to the cool-gal feel of this famous fashion house, and this look has an equestrian theme to it, which is present in lots of the pieces around this season. This head-to-toe outfit could be worn exactly as it is. Nothing matches, and nothing needs to. And that beautiful tweed, leather accessories and contemporary sunglasses make a real change from viscose tracksuits.

Finally: evening. Nobody does it better than Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent. This model has legs that would probably reach to my shoulders, so the sequinned hot pants are definitely for her lithe frame only. However, I saw Andie MacDowell wearing this jacket recently and it looked just beautiful: a glittering take on Yves’ Le Smoking in my favourite monochrome.

And so to real life. I’m not actually typing this on board my private jet, but I still want to put together something I love, and add a few twists. For a luxe, camel investment buy, the Brooks Coat by Reiss looks stunning with something else I’m coming to love: winter whites. Which brings me to accessories: this JW Anderson leather tote is slouchy and dressy at the same time.

For a touch of equestrian chic I really love Holland Cooper, and this HC Chelsea Scarf is a really affordable way of bringing some camel to your wardrobe. Boots: I was going to go for sensible and then thought it would be a bit too formal. So I chose these Russell and Bromley Everglade Knee High Chelsea boots. I know chunky soles are very much the thing, and I love the print. (Note to self: my mother would never, ever have let me wear these, so that means I had to choose them!)

I think I felt personally moved to step away from knitted cover-ups and go for something entirely more fabulous when I saw this image of Julianne Moore, filming for a new project, Sharper, where she plays a high-class con artist, who moves amongst Manhattan’s billionaire social set. Of course, the Chanel sunglasses are just the centerpiece of the look, ably assisted by that Hermes beauty. Everything else just screams luxury, too.

coat and sunglasses

Beautiful optical glasses and sunglasses are something that you wear often, and sometimes, every day, and to me it makes sense to really choose well and spend better. I popped into Blankstone to see if I could give myself a bit of a Julianne lift and found exactly what I was looking for.

The Blankstone Chanel 5435. The real deal.

The Blankstone Persol X JW Anderson 649. A stylish, talked about collab.

The Blankstone Gucci 900S. If I’m going 70’s Aria, then this is the eyewear.

So there you go. You may not be part of the Manhattan style mafia, indeed you might be a little bit more of an interloper, like me, and by that I mean you like to look the part, not that you are an actual, real life, grifter. However, that doesn’t mean you have to dial down your tailoring.

One thing I do know for sure though. At no point in Julianne Moore’s new on screen performance do I imagine her, wafting across the famous marble foyer of the Four Seasons Hotel, on East 57th Street, between Madison and Park, wearing a coatigan.

Even a cashmere one.

Nancy Buckland-Kirk for Blankstone

Additional images courtesy of Gucci/Vogue Runway/Reiss/JW Anderson/Holland Cooper/Russell and Bromley/Instagram @jasonhowardnyc

Nancy is a noted fashion writer and reporter, and now contributes her own style slant for our Blog: eyewear, trends and beyond.