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  • Carol Alayne

Button up your overcoat, when the wind is free…

t’s time to sing that chorus again. With the evenings drawing in and the temperature falling, we will need to think of bundling up in a few more layers when we go out. For those who plan ahead, the ever reliable overcoat waiting in the back of the wardrobe can be taken out for an airing and a good brush…an old friend with lots of memories, here again to keep you snug.

Overcoats come in all sorts of styles; topcoats, peacoats, cover coats, crombie etc. They are as wonderful a garment as they are essential, and can give real authority to a wardrobe. Like a piece of sculpture, they help make you look smart and poised. I feel they are the epitome of style and good taste when the weather begins to turn. Worn over a business suit or daywear, they come in a range of weights and fabrics. Camel hair, cashmeres, wools or the luxurious vicuna can be styled into any design from above knee to ankle length. The longer the length the better the protection.

Coats often have an interesting history. For example, the polo coat originally started out as a simple camel-hair wrap coat, like a large blanket. It was something the riders threw over their shoulders, like a bathrobe, while waiting to resume play. Originally it was called a ‘wait’ coat but in the 1920s, when English polo players were first invited to play in matches on Long Island (NY), the swagger of these coats didn’t go unnoticed, and they soon appeared on East coast campuses. By 1930, polo coats had supplanted the raccoon coats at the Yale-Princeton football game; a decided stamp of approval.

This coat for one of my women clients has a ‘button-tab’ collar. It’s an unusual design that evolved as a means of keeping out the chill wind. The lapel and top collar roll-line open and cross over at the center front fully covering and protecting the upper chest and neck area. With an under collar from matching cloth, instead of the melton collar one sees in most men’s tailoring, it looks equally smart whether open or closed.

To emphasise the accents in this colourful Donegal tweed, and to add an eye-catching finish I hand-worked each button hole in a different colour silk twist.

My own worsted wool overcoat, inspired by the ‘swing’ style of the 40’s, has a magnificent autumnal check and finishes just 3″ above the ankle. It covers all skirt lengths and is one of my cosiest items. Real weather…..bring it on!

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