WIW to trudge through February

It's hard dressing for February when you're no lover of down jackets. I'm awed by E's example of gorgeous winter style, and feeling the frustration of Suz when she rails against the tyranny of the freeze. 

We have no choice but to love our cold weather clothing. As I pointed out in the other thread, I think mainstream fashion does us no favours by defaulting to performance gear at this time of year, when sumptuous layers of wool offer such a classic natural alternative. 

So I'm back in my vintage coat. This is not my only winter coat, but it is definitely the warmest. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to buy boiled wool of this quality any more, which is why I bought it when I could have bought a new coat for the same price (it wasn't cheap) and why I keep wearing it year after year. 

Worn with my all-time favourite winter jumper by Pringle 1815, and my new possibly-Comme culottes layered over leggings. Comfortable, comforting and warm as toast.

ETA: And I forgot to ask about the difference in length between the coat and culottes ... was that a faux-pas?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • AM replied 6 years ago

    Love, love, love. Everything is right to my eye. And your insight about mainstream adopting sporty vs. defining new territory for the cold -- well, that is dead on. 

  • rachylou replied 6 years ago

    Haha, I can see you didn't forget your pants, so the lengths seem fine to me. Do you have snow on the ground where you are?

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    AM: thanks for the boost! I think there's a discussion to be had on cold weather alternatives. I don't understand why it's so hard to buy a really good winter coat. 

    rachylou: just a couple of inches so far. But I think we're in for a freeze over the next few days. 

  • rachylou replied 6 years ago

    I ask because the outfit is definitely hip, but I was wondering how cold it would go. Yes, I'm on the lookout for ideas; False Spring is ending :)

  • celia replied 6 years ago

    This is much nicer than a puffer coat , million miles away.
    It is difficult to by a decent winter coat like I remember my grandmother having. But in Canada with the snow we get sometimes we do have to resort to puffers.
    Your outfit is fabulous, with all the movement and artsy layers. I don't know about the lenght thing, but it does look good to me.

  • viva replied 6 years ago

    Love this outfit! But how I wish I had only a couple of inches to contend with! We have at least 3 feet on the ground, and 5-6 new inches this morning. It's just a mess, and not only on the ground -- but getting to the car requires walking through a narrow path cut into six-foot drifts. Winter fashion in these conditions is a serious challenge.

    So I will just enjoy looking at all the pictures for a while until Mother Nature settles down. You look wonderful.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    I love this outfit. The coat is impressive. Substantial. A statement even though it is a neutral. Worth the money you spent. 

    I like it with the culottes and do not think the length is an issue in this case. I do find with dresses, I like the coat to be the same length (or longer) if they are flared at all (A-line or full skirts) but if it is a straight skirt or pants, it seems easier to get the proportions right if they aren't the same length. 

    You're right that it is much, much harder than it used to be to get a good quality wool coat. I do own a couple (and one lower quality one that is a blend). Alas, as others have said, our weather gets so nasty that puffers are pretty much a necessity if you have to be outdoors for very long. Or if not a necessity, at least a much more practical and comfortable choice.  I agree that wool is wonderful as a base layer and layered over top, and I can do that and wear my wool coat if it is around 0C and I'm not outside too long and it is not heavily snowing....but once the thermometer goes lower, the wind picks up, and the snow begins to come down in gusts, wool can get realy heavy. And sometimes smelly. And sometimes just doesn't provide the warmth.  :(   

    I think this is part of what explains the fashion for down coats; it's a bit like skinny jeans. They might not look great on everyone but they do the job. Plus, down coats are usually washable, another factor here, where you are likely to be splashed by dirty, gritty slush if you are commuting. ;( 

  • K.M. replied 6 years ago

    I'm another fan of your outfit. I love the layers, there's a geometrical quality to them, and I like the culottes peeking out from beneath the coat.

    I feel the same way about wool coats vs. puffers, but as Suz put it, sometimes wool is not enough. I'm curious--how cold does it get where you live, and does the wool coat seem enough to keep you very warm?

    I ask because I sometimes see people wearing wool coats at temperatures when, for me, only a puffer will do, and I wonder if it's partly because some people don't mind being a bit cooler--that is, warm enough not to freeze over, but not ultra-toasty. I get cold very easily and I need to feel always very warm all over. Therefore I wear a giant puffer and some big chunky snow boots even though it's not the look I would prefer.

  • unfrumped replied 6 years ago

    I think the lengths work because of the style of the coat. If it were very prim it might look not substantial enough at the shorter length. But it has more volume and swing to it, plus the collar, and also as Suz said, the straighter bottom silhouette adds to all of that. These concepts are all "ideal" though and few of us can have the perfect coat length for every outfit and weather condtion, IMO, so I say it's all good.

  • Missey replied 6 years ago

    Trudging through February?  You look ready to hop, skip, and jump right through!  LOVE LOVE LOVE this outfit!!

  • shevia replied 6 years ago

    Love the outfit, the coat and the culottes of course! With pieces like that you make the rules. Am also curious about the weather factor - particularly in wet weather. 

  • Runcarla replied 6 years ago

    My dirty little secret is...I have a poison eye for puffers! Too many years of visiting DH's winter fieldwork camps have left me with a dislike of anything remotely like a sleeping bag!

    25 years in northern Ontario and I have managed to stay warm with classic wool coats. This year (my first winter in southern Ontario) I rotated between a charcoal grey wool/cashmere blend 'man' coat and a black/brown weird synthetic blend 'carpet' coat. They hit the knee, cover my skirts, and with tall black boots, I am not cold.

    My HEWI is a bright coloured (preferably mustard yellow) wool coat that would hit a few inches below the knee.

    Your outfit is sophisticated-hip, and a distinctively luxe way to meet winter nastiness! Well done!

  • E replied 6 years ago

    Thanks for the shoutout! I agree that wool coats today are nothing like vintage ones: my blue vintage one is German loden wool and it's magical. I wore it in a snowstorm when it's 8F/-12C w a windchill factor of -6F/-18C, so fairly driving wind, w occassional snowbanks up to my knees to wade through, and spent over an hour walking without feeling cold (except my face, esp my nose, lol). I was genuinely snug and warm, and my inner outfit was just a wool sweater and wool trousers (so I wasn't layered to the max), with silk long johns on bottom. And alpaca socks tucked into snow boots! I think my hand knit hats and mittens, which are made out of heavier worsted weight wool yarn, make a difference too and having a wool/cashmere pashmina as a scarf. But so far I've yet to encounter a winter day here that my vintage wool coats can't insulate me from!

    Anyway, you look great in this outfit. :) I'm sure it's easier for me to enjoy winter as I've only just moved to upstate NY from south TX, so there's the novelty factor. Hehe We'll see if 5 years down the road I still love my coats and woollens and winter accessories as much as I do now!

  • Thistle replied 6 years ago

    Warm and snuggly!! 

  • Helena replied 6 years ago

    Cozy and stylish ... a perfect February look!

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Thanks ladies for all the feedback and insightful comments. I hope you'll forgive me not shouting out to every one of you, but your collective wit and wisdom is very much appreciated!

    We never get more than a few inches of snow in the city, and it's always cleared away pretty quickly, so I obviously don't have to contend with the elements in the way that some of you do. If I did, all bets would be off and I'd probably be in a puffer myself. I have to admit I've been sorely tempted by those amazing Canada Goose parkas, but whenever I try one on I feel like Marge Gunderson. No bad thing, but not how I want to look.

    But this doesn't excuse the relative scarcity of boiled Loden-style wool. If you've never worn it, you'd never know that wool fabric could be so warm, so hard wearing or shrug off the water so effectively. This is why I'm frustrated that it's so very difficult to find. It's an excellent natural alternative if you don't mind the weight.

    I bought this coat online from a dealer in Minneapolis (hey - there goes another Fargo connection), so it was clearly made with the North American winter in mind. The vendor was astonished to find that anyone in temperate Europe would feel the need for such a heavy winter coat. I told her about the rain, the fog and the wind chill factors which can make sub-zero temperatures feel much, much colder.

  • AM replied 6 years ago

    approprio: I am seeing a pattern with you. You searched out the London maker of those fab shoes (forgetting there name) and now you've connected with a dealer in Minneapolis? Can you explain more about the dealer in Minneapolis and if/how you go direct to the source? This really has me intrigued. Thank you!

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    AM: let me think for a moment... Short answer is that I am a huge nerd, and nothing gets my nerd on quite like fashion. :D

    I look at clothes all the time. I've trained myself to recognise quality when I see it. I read up on history, couture, technique. I sew so I know about materials and construction. I know how to identify fabric content by the way it burns. Stuff like that. I know what I'm looking for and I love it when I find something really, really special.

    Specifically, I found this coat during an extended period of enforced rest on the couch with a broken pelvis and nothing better to do than surf the Internet. I looked at many coats, new and vintage, from many different sources. This was on Etsy.com and it was definitely love at first sight. I passed up a number of brand new mid-range coats to buy it and I've not regretted it for a moment. They really don't make 'em like this anymore.

    The shoes are another story altogether. I'm saving it for another time. ;)

  • AM replied 6 years ago

    I am so tempted to go into my closet and start burning!

    I definitely have the research nerd gene in me too. As I have only just started to dig deeper into my own personal style and clothes, I'm sure this will be another obsessive area in my life. It is good to know that going to the source is an option. When I am undertaking my next search, I may tap you for some research tips. Glad to know you go deep!

  • Astrid replied 6 years ago

    Awesome look! I only recently discovered the magic that is layered wool and I prefer it by far to performance gear. I'm so much more comfortable it's ridiculous. Also wool/silk winter underwear - I don't know how I could live without it before. My current wool coat is cheap, but I want to make a new one a priority next fall.

  • Diana replied 6 years ago

    Love this outfit, and I love your thought process behind it even more.

    I am another who doesn't own a puffer. I don't like the look and I find wool, properly layered, to be just as warm. Another thing I don't do is big, hairy fur lined hoods (can't stand the feeling of the hairy fur touching my face). I find a big wool scarf + wool knit hat plenty warm.

    Anyway, today (which is arctic) I am wearing 5 layers on top - wool coat, lightweight wool blend blazer, silk/wool vest-y thing, thin cashmere sweater, and a layering cami. Plus three on the bottom - jeans, wool knee socks, boots. It works for me!

    Eta: one of my coats has a quilted lining, which is great and also adds warmth without looking puffy.

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Yes! Layers are your friend! Best way to create a pillow or warm air around yourself and carry it around in the cold. Works just as well as a down jacket, if not better.

    Astrid: I bet in Germany you'll be able to find some pretty good Loden second hand. I see it around here all the time but I've never found the right piece. I might make that a project next autumn.

    Diana: I did something very similar today myself. From the bottom up: HeatTech cami, skinny merino polo neck, mohair jumper, alpaca hoodie and wool mix sleeveless shell coat. And the coat above also has a quilted lining. These old solutions are just as good as the new, IMO.

  • Astrid replied 6 years ago

    Approprio yes, for sure. But for me it would be important that it doesn't look like traditional costume. So all the details have to be just right...

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Astrid: yes, that is indeed the problem, which is why I've never looked too closely before. But a lady colleague of mine wears a men's Loden suit and looks spectacular, and I'm now inspired by E's example. I'm beginning to see the potential. 

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