Max Mara Coat 1 Max Mara Coat 2

I have always dreamt of having a closet full of covetable coats. It is so important to have a variety of outerwear to complement many looks. In my early 20s, I worked as a sales associate at TSE Cashmere. There, I was introduced to the sumptuous feel of a cashmere coat. As soon as the Autumn Winter collection rolled around I applied my employee discount to one of their peacoats. This piece has spoiled me for life! The timeless silhouette and quality craftsmanship have endured countless seasons and it has made it nearly impossible for me to settle for a new wool jacket from one of the less expensive brands. They just don’t feel as soft and they lack the sophisticated drape that I crave! The fabric feels a little stiff, scratchy and the fit is usually boxy. There are a few exceptions but when I have bought them they sit in the closet with the tags still on while I reach for my beloved TSE Cashmere. Eventually, I return them as they are not going to get any use.

When it comes to fashion, I am a firm believer in mixing high and low. However, my general rule is not to compromise when it comes to buying shoes, handbags, and outerwear. Instead, it is better to build those parts of your wardrobe slowly. Look for investment pieces with quality construction until you have your bases covered. Versatility is also key. I rarely buy anything that doesn’t go with at least three other items already hanging in my closet. This usually means keeping an eye out for understated styles in a neutral color palette. Just be sure that the shades really suit you! If you stick to these ideas, more often than not your wallet will stay in your handbag. It is always better to have a few quality pieces that you really love than to have an enormous closet full of clothes and “nothing to wear.”

Anyway, back to the coats! This last fall I felt that it was time to invest in some new outerwear. I had existed with only one khaki colored short ruffled trench (J.Crew) for day, a black faux fur jacket (Graham & Spencer) for evening and my TSE Cashmere black peacoat for the winter months. Mind you, the short khaki trench and the black faux fur are from 2007 and the TSE Cashmere is from 2002. All three are holding up beautifully but that doesn’t mean that I am not due for a bit of an update! In fact, for the last few years I have searched for an olive-green jacket (for everyday). Recently, I have looked for a polished coat to go with everything from skinny jeans to black leggings to a cocktail dress. Also, I would love another winter weight cashmere coat, but not in black.

I began my search at MaxMara. Like TSE, this Italian brand knows their coats – specifically, their luxe winter outerwear. They were having a promotion on some of their cashmere blend coverups so I tried on the light gray one in the photographs above. I loved the understated design, the oversized collar and the fit was fabulous! This coat was made from a mix of wool / cashmere with a leather detail at the sleeve. Alas, it was out of my price range (even on sale), but I enjoyed the fashion inspiration.*

Last week I went to Burberry** in San Francisco. I love their classic trenches, but my style tends to be a little less ladylike and a bit more “undone.” However, I have followed the British brand’s evolution since creative director Christopher Bailey took the helm and I was ready to give it a go! I couldn’t have been more impressed with the selection. They had everything from their iconic trenches to structured military coats to cropped leather toppers. I ended up buying two amazing pieces. The first, a smart / casual olive-green jacket. It is a bit oversized, but the sleeves are cut slim and the contemporary utilitarian style makes it perfect for everyday wear. It has chic zipper details and comes with two different belt options (one is brown leather and the other is made from woven fabric). I have thrown it over everything! The second is a short black Raglan sleeved fitted trench. I love how it has the feminine fit of a Burberry trench, but since it is black, the focus is more on the sleek silhouette and less on the classic trench details. This perennially chic coverup is extremely sexy when paired with jeans, stilettos and an off the shoulder top. The length also makes it ideal for over cocktail dresses. Although I didn’t find a new winter coat, I am so happy with my two fashion finds. Since these were both investment pieces I think I can hold off until next fall before I search for another cashmere coat. Until then….

*As you can see from the expression on my face, I take my outerwear very seriously!! So silly.. I made sure to capture a few quick snaps when I knew that this gorgeous coat would not be going home with me.

**If you are planning on visiting the Burberry store in San Francisco, be sure to call ahead and ask for Marco. He has excellent taste, knows his brand and makes thoughtful recommendations.