Trench Coats And Other Fashion Question Marks

So. This post's gonna cause a lot of up-in-arms. (Although judging by how stylish you all are, they'll most likely be Marc Jacobs-clad ones.) But I think there are some things that need to be said. Or at least discussed in a reasonable fashion.

It has to do with just that.

I've been browsing through the glamour blogs – or 'glogs', as a friend of mine calls them – and I've started to realise that some of the things many of us think of as 'fashion classics' – such as the beige trench coat, the white shirt and so on – are actually rather challenging to get right.

Before you all start to pummel me with your Kelly bags, let me try and explain. And then give me a ten-minute head-start to get away.

The Beige Trench 
Ah, the ol' trench coat, as Maxwell Smart would say. Now I know a lot of women love trenches, so I'm gonna try to be tactful about what I write. I can't promise anything though so if you're wearing a beige trench right now, look away.

Beige is not an easy colour to wear. It makes many blondes look bleached, and many brunettes look even more consumptive. I don't know about you but I'm not aiming for the TB look this year.

Designers often try to lift the colour up a notch, but it still tends to sit on the dull, dishwater-y side. I mean, look at the shade of the Burberry trench above. What would you call that? Gobi Desert?

Even the colour sounds a little boring. Beige.

And I know we shouldn't mention the war, but beige trench coats make me think of the French resistance. And of course English troops too. (NB Did you know that only officers and Class 1 Warrant Officers were allowed to wear them? No other ranks were permitted to. I suspect the other ranks were quietly pleased about this.)

So. I'm thinking that it's time to let the epaulettes go. Rest in peace little shoulder pads. And as for that little D-ring that was supposedly for the attachment of hand grenades? Well, I mean who's carrying hand grenades around nowadays? John Galliano?

Yes people, it's time to let the beige trench die a dignified death.

Oh – one other argument. Beige trench coats are so ubiquitous now that I'm tickled pink when I see one in colour. Wouldn't you rather be standing next to the pink girl (above) at a Trench Coat Convention? Me too. Doesn't she look much more FUN?

In saying this, there's always an exception. The always-glam Janet from The Gardener's Cottage blog looks splendid in her J.Crew number.

(By the way, French fashion law dictates that trenchcoats should be tied, never buckled, with the tie positioned slightly to the right. Or the left – I can't remember. Even better, leave the belt untied. It gives a more elegant line. And the sleeves should be pushed up slightly to show the wrist. Or so I've been told. But again, Janet proves you can do what you want and still look hot.)

Short Skirts on Women over 20 Years Of Age
Coco Chanel believed that women over 20 should never show their knees. (Okay, over 40. I'm just stretching the truth for the argument.) And I have to say, I'm beginning to feel the same. Knees are ugly. Have you ever see a pretty one? Even Ms Wintour's are a little on the bony side. Skirts are SO much prettier when the hems are not up around your eyeshadow. Chanel believed that skirts should skim the knees. And so do I. A hint of knee is elegant. An entire kneecap is frightening.

Feel free to disagree with me on this. I know a lot of friends who do.

White shirts
I've had a love/hate relationship with white shirts for years. I know the collars frame your face well. I know the white lightens your complexion. (Which is why Chanel often put white collars on her black dresses.) I know the cuffs look sexy. And I know the whole outfit makes people think you are clever, competent, and classically stylish. But busty girls can't wear them. I don't know why but it's true. Maggie Alderson once did a column on this. She agreed with me. I can't even wear Anne Fontaine's designs. (The High Priestess of the White Shirt Wearers – pictured above.) My boobs would look very bad in this.

White shirts look best on lithe figures. If you're a girl with cleavage and you want to wear a white shirt (as I do), then you need to find one that's fitted. Such as this. Isn't it pretty? Just love those cuffs. Such a sexy part of a shirt, don't you think? I call this the 'Librarian Chic' look. Love it.

Suede is fashion's biggest farce. I know many of you agree with me on this. Whoever thought of it really needs to be taken out the back and horse whipped with cow hide. It's a fabric that only looks good in the store. Once you put it on – especially shoes – it picks up bits of fluff and dust, wears thin within the first week and attract water like nothing else. Seriously. I once had a pair of suede shoes in London that I didn't dare wear. Eventually I took them out of the closet for a big First Date. It was supposed to be sunny that afternoon but wearing suede is like doing a rain dance: a shower is bound to fall. And when it does: so long suede. You can kiss those little cuties goodbye.

(PS Sorry Christian Louboutin. Normally I loved your shoes. But just not in suede. Not even hot pink suede.)

[Image at very top via Kate Spade]

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