“Oh, Boy!” A Coat For All Seasons

Ralph Lauren Parker Wool Crepe Coat, $2790
Photo: ralphlauren.com

There’s no question that coats were the stars of the fall 2023 ready-to-wear collections. There were coats of all kinds, shown in dizzying variety. You name it, we saw it: faux furs, furs, shearlings; coats covered in sequins and feathers, coats printed and patterned, coat heavily embellished and embroidered.

Miu Miu Fall 2023 Ready-to-Wear
Photo by Isadore Montag for Gorunway.com

There were roomy cocoon coats and puffers so voluminous you could fit 3 people inside, capacious capes and endless versions of the belted trench which always look great. But there’s one recurring style that’s giving all of these a run for their money: the perfectly tailored top coat, also referred to as a reefer, a masculine coat, or a boy coat.

Paris Fashion Week Street Style
Photo: Instagram

And they weren’t only seen on the runways. Some of the best dressed show-goers wore this classic style and they stood out in a sea of over the top craziness (sequined gowns with trains at 9 o’clock in the morning, anyone?)

Versace Medusa Long Fuchsia Wool Coat, $4150
Photo: versace.com

There was a time when no self-respecting well-dressed gentleman would leave home without one. Now they are for everyone, and available at every price. Naturally, Zara offers affordable versions each season. This old world style is most commonly seen in neutrals (camel, gray, black, brown, navy) and traditional menswear patterns and fabrics, but they are also available in winter white and bold primary shades including red and fuchsia.

Jodie Double Breasted Beige Lightweight Wool Coat, $635
Photo: thefrankieshop.com

Whether single or double breasted, 1 button, 2 button or 3 button, fingertip length, mid-calf, or ankle length, made of wool, cashmere, or cotton, there’s something about the streamlined, clean lines of these coats that is highly appealing.

Zara Menswear Style Camel Wool Blend Coat, $129.90
Photo: zara.com

Genderless, timeless, seasonless, they can be worn almost 12 months a year, as opposed to much of the outerwear on recent runways that were made for survival in the North Pole. Moreover, they fit right in with the current zeitgeist and a renewed appreciation for classic investment clothes that are unapologetically un trendy.

Topcoats are traditionally designed to skim the body in a way that is not extreme or exaggerated, making them flattering for many women, but for fall 2023, a few designers tweaked the fit. Dries Van Noten and Bottega Veneta’s Matthieu Blazy gave their iterations a modified hourglass shape.

The Row Resort 2024
Photo: The Row

At Balenciaga, Loewe, and The Row, they were a bit slouchier. I also loved the way the Olsen twins added a chic matching gray scarf to the neckline of one particular standout.

Proenza Schouler Fall 2023 Ready-to-Wear
Photo by Jonas Gustavsson of Proenza Schouler

The coats’ versatility and inherent plainness are their assets, providing the perfect blank slate. They can be easily dressed up or dressed down. At Proenza Schouler, a camel knee length coat, paired with a simple gray cashmere pullover, was the ideal way to tone down a pair of gold leather trousers.

Michael Kors Collection Fall 2023 Ready-to-Wear
Photo by Filippo Fior for Gorunway.com

Moreover, they are an ideal evening cover up; so much chicer and more modern than something “fancy” or an old lady shawl. For example, Michael Kors topped off his silver and gold sequined jumpsuits with tailored wool coats in gray and camel, respectively.

Jason Wu Collection Fall 2023
Photo by Dan & Corina Lecca for Jason Wu

Along those same lines, Jason Wu offset his embroidered nude slip dress with a long and black wool coat. At Rochas, a long dark plaid wool coat perfectly offset the sweetness of a baby blue chiffon floor length skirt.

Gabriela Hearst takes a bow at her show
Photo by Daniele Oberrauch for Gorunway

Put one over a sweatshirt and sweatpants and you are instantly dressed. Throw one over your pj’s or nightgown for an early morning run for a carton of milk or the morning paper, or to walk the dog. Gabriela Hearst can wear anything she wants but when the designer took her after show bow, she threw a simple black double breasted coat over her white lace trimmed slip; an ideal example of mixing masculine and feminine.

Amy Fine Collins arriving at the Spring 2023 Thom Browne Show
Photo by Fabris Florencia

Of course you can also play into the inherent boyishness of this style a la Thom Browne. The tailored, lapel collared overcoat is a Browne signature and an essential for many of Thom’s loyal fans who wear Browne’s instantly recognizable designs to his runway shows.

Thom Browne Waterproof Twill Wide Lapel Overcoat, $2690,
Photo: thombrowne.com

For fall 2023, Thom made the shoulders of his coats more pronounced than usual, (as they are on many other runways) but if you go to Browne’s website, you will find a selection of classic iterations in lightweight fabrics for spring, including one in beige waterproof twill which is a perfect way to look chic in April showers.

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Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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