An outerwear piece is the first impression of an outfit. It’s the first thing people see, after your face of course. So, it can be as good as a smile and a strong handshake or as bad as a scowl and a dead fish handshake. So often, a jacket or a coat is thrown on as an afterthought. It might not go with the outfit in terms of style and/or colour and is used exclusively as a practical element to get from A to B. See, I don’t understand this because like I said, it’s a first impression, and everyone wants to make a good first impression, right? You might not even end up taking your jacket off, therefore it’s potentially the most important part of any outfit. A disconnect between outfit and outwear is like wearing snow gear to the beach, it just doesn’t look right. I know I think about my outfits a lot more than most but come on guys, we can do better than that. It’s all about thinking about your outfit holistically.
For my Southern hemisphere readers, this is the perfect time to be shopping for outerwear as you can snag a bargain with end of season sales. It’s beneficial to be reflective about the winter season and if there were gaps in your wardrobe that might need filling for next year. And for the Northern hemisphere readers, if you don’t have some outwear sorted, I’m sorry, but you are going to have to suck it up and pay full price before you freeze your tits off (although I think you might currently still be in a heat wave, so you know, no rush). Now, I’m going to be talking you through my top three outerwear essentials. These are obviously subjective to my lifestyle, but I think at least one of these would be useful for most women, so take from it what you will. Living on the south coast of Australia, I’m not in need of a big wool coat, however, that would definitely be an essential if you live anywhere cooler. You still need to use a bit of common sense and practicality with fashion, just make sure it’s a really nice wool coat that goes with most outfits, for my sake and yours, please and thank you.
No prizes for guessing what my first absolute essential outerwear piece is. Let’s all say it together…a leather jacket! I nearly didn’t include it because it’s so obvious and I’ve talked your ear off about it already, however, out of the nominees, it actually won the award for Outstanding Outfit Contribution in the category of Autumn/Winter Outerwear. That may be a made up award and the judge, yours truly, might be slightly biased. However, I do believe that if this was an actual award with prestigious judges and an awards night with trophies (let’s make it happen people!), that this would still be the outcome, and let me tell you why. As you’ll already know from my blog series, a leather jacket is what I classify as a ‘water’ item for your wardrobe. By choosing the right one for you, it’s an outerwear piece that can be put over the top of any outfit. Even something evening like this green satin cocktail dress. I bet you wouldn’t have thought that would work, right? Have a play, you’ll be surprised by how many different kinds of outfits it works with.
For a leather jacket to be this versatile, you want to find one that is the same colour all over, preferably black. It needs to be all leather with none of those weird elasticated cuffs or hems, as that makes the jacket an exclusively casual piece. You also want the style to be quite classic and reasonably fitted. The type of collar is really your preference, and it actually does dictate the style quite a lot. A big lapel like mine creates more of an edgy statement, where as a sleek, high neck collar with no lapels, gives off a more sophisticated vibe. So, the leather jacket is rightfully a winner winner, chicken dinner because it fulfills both our needs, you can just throw it on thoughtlessly over any outfit and it will also be aesthetically pleasing to the eye. If you haven’t got a leather jacket already or are planning on getting one, there really isn’t any hope for you because I really can’t sell it anymore and I’m sorry, but we just can’t be friends.
Runner up for the Outstanding Outfit Contribution in the category of Autumn/Winter Outerwear is a faux fur lined suede coat/jacket. This jacket is very specific to my style, with the exaggerated collar and the strong 70’s inspiration, however, there are lots of variations to this piece if this style doesn’t float your boat. Shearling lined blue or black denim jackets are having a moment and are a practical and stylish variation to your standard denim jacket for the winter months. I would also recommend a bomber jacket as another alternative to these two lined outerwear pieces if you weren’t feeling the retro vibes. A bomber jacket represents more of the sports luxe style that has been in full swing these last few seasons.
These more statement and style specific jackets are what I would refer to as an essential because they can go over a basic outfit and really give it some personality. This kind of first impression really tells people what your style is. As long as it is in a neutral colour that will go with the majority of your wardrobe, it is a jacket that will be more of a ‘water’ piece than a ‘wine’ one. These kinds of jacket’s do have a bit of bulk to them which is part of what makes them more of a statement piece, so I recommend keeping the outfit underneath quite fitted to avoid adding too much access bulk to your silhouette. Can we also just talk about how I look like I should be in an episode of McLeod’s Daughters in this outfit?
An honourable mention for the award that I can’t be bothered to type out again (potentially need to work on the name) is a thick cardigan. Not one of those thin, shitty ones with pilling all over it that you only wear around the house (you know the one), but a much more stylish version. This one from Tigerlilly is much louder and more colourful than I would usually go for, however, it works in my wardrobe because it has black and white as it’s base colours. My favourite way of styling this is to let the cardigan do the talking by using solid black pieces for my jumper, shoes and hat and for something a bit more interesting and fun, I did a subtle print clash with my patterned pants. This can be done because the pants are also black and white, so the outfit still has continuity. Since purchasing, I have come to realise that this cardigan looks slightly like a dressing gown as it comes with a matching tie, so I try and avoid other people making that parallel by making the rest of the outfit a bit dressier.
Another great alternative is a maxi cardigan, like the black one I had on in the first look of my Winter lookbook. Maxi cardigans are great because they can be dressed up or down and they are very elongating for your figure. I also think they look really cool flowing out behind you as you walk, kinda like a cape or someone from The Matrix. A nice, good quality cardigan is perfect because it feels like you are wearing a blanket but it’s much more socially acceptable than actually wearing a blanket out of the house. Again, I’ll say it once more for the people in the back, having an outerwear piece in a neutral colour (I tend to favour black), will ensure that it can be thrown over many more outfits with ease. Outerwear is also more versatile if it is on the dressy end of the scale as it can be dressed down easily due to the rest of the outfit, however, casual outerwear can’t be dressed up.
These three have been troopers and have been worn to death throughout this winter season and still going strong. Let me know if you agree with my judging or if your lifestyle calls for something different in the comments. I’d love to hear from you. Spring has officially sprung so get ready for some spring content coming your way.
Love Hayley xo
Photographer and Editor: Adara Neradil