The evening coat has a grand heritage. Even just the category conjures up nice imagery. Undraping a fur coat after intermission at the Bolshoi Theatre. Wrapping up in an elegant coat after a romantic dinner in Paris. Slipping a silk coat over an evening dress for cocktail hour in Hanoi. A cashmere coat for windy evenings on the deck of the Christina O. All manner of romantic visions associated with dressing up, have been suitably covered with an evening coat and a set of diamonds. Jackie Onassis did leopard, or stiff silk shantung, or bell shaped in heavy wool. The modern go-to designers to emulate that style would have to be an equal split between Miu Miu, and Dolce and Gabbana.
Audrey Hepburn used vivid colours and sculptural scapes. Marilyn Monroe made the luxurious camel coat an evening must, as well as a puff of white fur. Loro Piana supplies this kind of decadence for today. What about a Modern icon for this romantic lensed genre? Alexa Chung lounging about in an Italian palazzo for mytheresa.com, sheathed in a Prada cape trimmed with fur?
It’s hard to get our heads out of the clouds, this season has us wrapped in fantasy (or in the case of Saint Laurent, a red love-heart shaped puff of fur). Bring the boudoir, or at least breakfast mode, to the streets with a bathrobe-style belted coat by Dries Van Noten. The rich burgundy drape will look fantastic against any oak bookshelf. Altuzarra’s pink fox fur coat is made of dreams, in fact, it's difficult to think of a single scenario that this evening coat wouldn’t make more charming.
The ritual of style
Evening coats are significant, like fine jewellery, because putting them on means you're getting dressed up, which also implies that something important is happening. The coat is the final step, once the shoes , the handbag, the dress, the jewellery, the underwear has been chosen (in that order). Dressing up is a ritual like few others. It carries across continental borders and is steeped in rich cultural history. Tradition and custom are still very present in modern day events wherein formality is required. This final piece should be chosen with careful consideration, it's not the part you rush out the door on. Shape can be experimented with but it should at a minimum follow or complement the silhouette worn underneath. Whatever part of the body is highlighted with the garments underneath shouldn't be lost with the coat! Colour and texture are the obvious next consideration, and then details like embellishments can be played with. A jacquard coat can be the crowning jewel to the perfect evening outfit, pattern on pattern with a richness of embellishment, an outfit to camouflage within the Palace of Versailles. This is not to say a black coat is any less astonishing, Givenchy’s black wool cape defines that very word. The house of Oscar de la Renta designs evening coats that are sensitive to the spectacular gowns that sit behind them, a legacy left by the man who dressed famous women for Galas. A good label to look at for winter weddings or important events when a cool breeze is inevitable. A silk trench coat can work as a flexible companion for numerous occasions and also for in between seasons, especially if you prefer a more minimal look when dressing up. A boucle coat can be flexible between events, from more casual, to very formal.
A fairytale ending
Well we can't guarantee a Prince, but we can prepare you if such meetings happen. Just like collecting seasonal gowns, evening coats are a long term investment. A spectacular coat, even if just a plain long wool coat, will be that piece you thank yourself for purchasing, unless you live in the Caribbean and then well, lucky you. If you’ve got tickets to the Bolshoi theatre or are meeting us on the decks of the Christina O, or simply have a cousin's wedding, don't let practicality get in the way of a good fantasy. Find something that excites you as much as it keeps out the cold! They stay with you for surprisingly long, they keep you warm at night, and they make you feel like a Princess, really, who needs a Prince?