The Idiot-Proof Solution To Trans-seasonal Dressing

A spring coat should be decorative rather than functional, like a pug.
Publish date:
April 23, 2013
fashion, 60s, spring coats, trans seasonal dressing, dress coats, duster coats

Praise be, it’s sunny! In the past week, I’ve emerged blinking, mole-like, into the watery sunshine and proceeded to do load after load of laundry and hang it on the washing line to dry in the breeze. This, for me, is a wild time (only rivalled by a Sunday evening spent shredding old bank statements – so satisfying.)

There’s nothing better than sitting, basking in the warm(ish) sun reading some literary babyfood but I’m not stupid – I know it’s not hot. Apparently, the rest of London, frolicking in the parks in flip-flops and shorts, does not realise this so end up sheepishly going home in the chilly evening sporting acres of goosebumps. Fools.

I’ve been wearing the same pair of Gap khakis for about a week now because they’re the only thing I own that keeps me at exactly the right temperature – they’re cropped, revealing about two inches of ankle which is all the skin I care to expose at the moment, so keep me cooler than jeans or tights. The khakis are topped off with one of my many Breton tops plus a jumper, and a jacket so I don’t feel cold. I hate feeling cold. But I can’t keep wearing this forever.

Sooner or later I might actually have to go somewhere where khakis are not an acceptable option and if this happens while the weather is capricious, I need a lazy way to appear ‘smart’. For my next trick, I will be shamelessly copying Siam who was wearing the most amazing vintage coat at the Cath Kidston party last week. It was pale pink with beautiful gold lurex embroidery and she found it on Portobello Market.

Couple this with the fact that my favourite magazine, Tatler (I have a subscription) devoted their ‘Don’t You Wish You Were Wearing...’ page to dress coats and we have a fashion moment folks!

Throw an embellished, brilliantly impractical dress coat over anything – really, anything – pyjamas, even my increasingly grubby khakis – and you will instantly have a chic outfit. They have a ‘60s suburban grooviness – think Betty Draper in afternoon-Martini-swigging mode and most importantly, they’ll keep off the spring chill, especially if you choose one in an opulent fabric like silk.

Criteria: the perfect spring coat should be mid-thigh length, lightweight, with some sort of decoration – a print, embroidery – and bracelet sleeves. You can wear it with cropped trousers and flats (very Audrey Hepburn and perfect for parties), over a shift dress (good wedding option) or with jeans and a tee if you fancy jazzing up a lazy lunch at the pub. It doesn’t need to be waterproof or, y’know, perform like a proper coat. It’s decorative rather than functional, like a pug.

A dressy house coat (for that is what we’re aiming for) is not an easy thing to find – vintage would be the best, but most time-consuming option. Still, I think the high street actually has a lot of fun when it comes to producing dress coats – they’re so unnecessary, they can go to town with the decoration and design and brilliantly they flatter all body types. Here are a few of my favourites...

JaegerGotta love a bit of leopard, right? Imagine this with black capri pants and ballet flats - chiiiic.

WhistlesThe slouchy, sports-luxe option comes courtesy of Whistles. I like the asymmetric popper-fastening front.

ASOSThis pretty, pale blue duster coat from ASOS would be a winner for a spring wedding - please note the delicate bracelet sleeves too.

TopshopThere were almost too many light spring coats to choose from at Topshop, plus plenty of kimonos (will do a separate piece on that soon!). Here are two of my favourites.


EastThe trick to not looking too 'mother of the bride' in East's gorgeously embroidered coat is to wear it with something super-casual, like ripped boyfriend jeans, a plain white tee and Converse. I promise it will work.

BodenIf flowers and embroidery aren't your thing, you can still enjoy the benefits of a decorative spring coat by choosing a stripy option like this Boden one.

But there's one brand that's WON the spring coat competition with ease and that's Zara. Look at all of these - and I could have chosen more. First, some sleek, contemporary, not-remotely -retro options.

And then some pretty pastel ones - don't you think the yellow check has a hint of Louis Vuitton SS13 to it?