A knee-length coat is everything from cold survival to royal event, one is worn with a fascinator that looks like a bird, and the other is made with feathers. So yes, Kate Middleton will wear a neatly cut collarless knee-length coat like it’s nobody’s business (which by default is actually everybody's business) and when skiing at Courchevel, she will most likely be equally elegant wrapped in down. Knee-length coats are, for practical reasons and more stylish ones, almost unavoidable. So accepting that as a fact we shall go through some of the season's favourites, designers who repeat the classics, and directional changes worth talking about.
The knee-length coat often takes on an hourglass silhouette, a tailored fit through the bodice, pinched in the middle to accentuate a waist and either slim or swung from the hips down. From the super-femme category this season we are swooning over Altuzarra’s ruffled hem coat, which balances just the right amount of girly with the traditional houndstooth print. From Marni, a candyfloss pink and yellow tweed coat, also with ruffles, is a dreamy statement. Victoria Beckham and Vika Gazinskaya take the modern pretty approach, Beckham with delicate details and a hyper flattering cut, and Gazinskaya with a dramatic waist-pinching, kick-flared silhouette.
The conversation starter
Statement coats are officially a thing. Gucci’s fur trimmed jacquard coat in an insect printed weave of brilliant reds and greens will not only start conversations, it’ll probably be the topic of conversations for months afterwards. The same could be said for Miu Miu’s metallic gold snakeskin coat. Marni’s bold calf hair and fur collared coat looks like it dropped straight out of Jimi Hendrix’s dreams, and again Miu Miu makes purple rain with a faux fur Prince hued button up.
For those of us south of the equator, fur, down, heavy wool and cashmere is a winter reality. Salvatore Ferragamo makes that reality a lot less painful with a coat made of pure luxury. Underneath a mid-length belted mink fur vest is a coat of wool and cashmere, the softness is literally indescribable. Prada can have you cocooned in down feather, so you feel as warm as you do chic and Inès & Maréchal can wrap you in chocolate brown shearling, for a similar effect.
Inspector gadget classic
The trench coat also falls into this category, its use, functionally and stylistically needs no introduction. Isabel Marant is a good option for a softer less starchy trench, great for throwing in the suitcase or over the shoulders for business trips and weekends away. Victoria Beckham does a sharper more formal trench which would suit the more valuable Monopoly board locations. Saint Laurent stays very true to the quintessential classic, as does A.P.C. Burberry, well they invented the concept, so no arguments there. There is a good reason they dressed that lovably practical character in a trench coat, its multifarious functions are seemingly endless.
Are you wearing anything under that coat?
Sexy mid-length coats very much exist. Of Course by Tom Ford, his printed leopard goat hair coat is practically lingerie. Leave it to Balmain to make the humble knitted midi coat lusty, its deep-v neckline, slim hips, waist-tie and strong shoulders are a combination not to be messed with. Lanvin’s heavy velvet coat has distinctly boudoir vibes, elegant and very ‘I woke up this way’. Givenchy does a Dalmatian-printed fur coat that has that brand of vamp made famous by both Cruella de Vil (the baddy everyone wanted to be) and Daphne Guinness (the heir everyone wants to be).
Everyday in every way
As life is not all galas and getaways, the staple mid-length coat is a very important sidekick for all other daily happenings. Acne is always a wonderful label for casual cool, and their neatly cut but comfortably roomy cashmere and wool coats are just another reason why they dominate this sector. Balenciaga’s take on the classic duffle coat could be worn for any experience where style and a low temperature meet, even if that’s just picking up groceries. A Givenchy coat would be an accurate choice for work life balance, their sharp tailoring is perfect to put on over a suit, and equally well matched to jeans and a cashmere sweater for weekend wine tasting. It’s a fact that mid-length coats are just a part of life, so let's make that part fabulous.