Running-errands wear

Rushing out to the store, picking up kids, taking your mother somewhere on short notice: prime schlumpadinka territory, where we throw something on, thinking they're just lucky we're doing it.

But then you run into that Ms Big with whom you just interviewed for a job, or your mother wants to stop "someplace nice" for lunch, and you might wish you hadn't been not quite so heedless.

In a good coat, you're covered

Assuming you aren't wearing sweats underneath, a smart coat will repel any oh-I-wish-I-were-better-dressed thoughts.

I chose these for their ability to elevate whatever's underneath. Each had to be long enough to pull together the everyday sweater and pants which you were wearing before you rushed out.
No motos, maddening to dress around, and unkind to many figures. No prints, fun but demanding to throw on without thought.

J. Cre
w wool Harbour Peacoat; ethereal colour (dried violet), topstitching and graceful lavish collar. Definitely not Army/Navy store gear, $220; some colours on sale.

Elizabeth and James
shearling vest, to toss over your jeans and neutral sweater (but not worn with idiotic open-toed boots with which Saks styled it).

$795 from
Saks Fifth Avenue; international shipping.

Hi from where it's cold. Moncler's long Melina coat provides pulled-together cover, the treat of fur trim, and rich dark olive, a welcome respite from black.

A Moncler coat is like wearing your own well-designed, heated house; $1,375 from Barney's.

For those in milder climates, or looking ahead to spring, this taupe Gryphon chain and grommet trim coat gives a sharp, clean line without being boring, $645 from Nordstrom.

Jessica Simpson (to my surprise a rather tailored line) turns in this snappy trench in rich cobalt.

A coloured coat is a time-honoured trick for diverting the eye and lifting spirits–yours and those who regard you. Price is a reasonable $138 from

In warm c
limates you could could reach for Diane von Furstenberg's Brandy, a softly draped metallic sheer jacket.

Smocking at the center back lends shape, and it's hand washable. $285 from Nordstrom; international shipping.

A jean jacket might be too short, but the denim trench neatly intersects casual and crisp. And this one, $149 from Talbot's, is machine-washable.

Burberry's leather trim cotton jacket ($895) will be sold out on Net-a-porter by the time you admire it, but it's so thunderously chic I had to show it.

Find a topper that denies you have not thought about your attire, throw on over neutrals–and dash out with verve.


mette said…
Just my favorite wear! A great coat ( along with boots& a smashing largish bag ), is my rescue every time. Living in the north, a longish coat is a must. I have the black DvN for fall and spring, my long Moncler ( 4th year) and then my long mink coat ( remodeled,4th year). A simple skirt or jeans+ a cashmire knit under, my diamond earrings, and I´m ready to go. The summer is so short over here, that per moment I only have large shawls or pashminas. Any suggestions?
Susan B said…
These are fabulous! I'm loving that DVF which would be perfect for LA.
La Loca said…
So true! I'm on my 5th winter with a fitted Perry Ellis pea coat that always draws tons of compliments and offsets my "less thoughtful" sartorial choices.
I don't really like peacoats because they are double breasted so not very flattering for the busty, though I do like a single-breasted, similar style. I like about peacoat length or a bit longer. Must cover the ... assets.

Where I live winters are cold too, but I really don't like self in long coats, probably because I'm not much taller than the famous Lizzes (da Queen and Taylor). I feel they weigh me down and make me feel less agile, and the Goddess knows that we have to keep walking at a good pace in the wintertime (I don't ride my bicycle in icy, snowy weather).

It is a good time now to go in search of coats, whether for the depths of winter or a slightly lighter coat - I'll be travelling to Europe at winter's end for work so I need something transitional - it can be chilly and damp, though I doubt the current snow will still be on the ground in Belgium and Paris.

Pseu, if you go up to San Francisco I imagine you'd need something a bit warmer for that chill damp air they can get on the Bay.
sisty said…
That reminds me what Genevieve Darriaux said in her seminal book, Elegance -- "Coats! If only we never had to take them off." Or something along those lines.
LPC said…
Duchesse, you and Imogen are on the same page today:). I wanted to chime in and endorse the Gryphon brand. I have a 3/4 sleeve short trench jacket from them and it's a life saver for just this reason. More spring than winter, but great.
How timely your post, I just acquired a very lovely coat for that very purpose!
Duchesse said…
metscan: Like you I wear coats for 4 years (plus as many more as I can get). Summer: though hard to find, silk or light Egyptian cotton raincoats are nice- coverage without weight or bulk. The last one I saw was by Jil Sander.

Jane: Fitted pea coats are jaunty! I like them cut a bit on the long side, to cover the seat.

lagatta: That's so exciting, maybe you would be willing to do a guest post on observations from your trip?

sisty: One of my all time favourite books; I carry her advice in my head all the time- which is why I don't care for "jeggings" on women over 19. I caught Rita Wilson (no doing makeovers) on Oprah yesterday and thought "Madame would NOT find her 'well and properly' dressed."

LPC: Gryphon not easy to find but worth searching for.

Hostess: We both seem to have become particular about coats, but when they are right, you are all set.
sisty said…
Duchesse, LOL! Don't you just love Madame, that old battleax? I have it on my nightstand and often just pick a letter of the alphabet at random before I go to sleep. There are always pearls of wisdom, and humor, in there.

She also thinks that pierced ears are barbarian, but we'll cut her a little slack.....

Anyway, I 100% agree with you (and Madame) about coats. And not black coats, either -- colorful ones!
Frugal Scholar said…
You are so right about the coat--as Mr FS and I discovered when we wore matching Burberry raincoats (circa 1980?) as mentioned in my last comment. We received many compliments!
Belle de Ville said…
It amuses me to no end that the Jesica Simpson clothing line is actually quite wearable. The pieces aren't fashion forward like the Alice and Olivia line, but they are cut with a flattering fit. I bought an inexpensive gray coat from the line this year.
materfamilias said…
This has been one of my indulgences over the past few years since I've been working full-time, coats and jackets. I love being able to look polished no matter what (not that I always do, but I could . . .I have the coat!) with so little effort. Coat, scarf, good bag, good boots or shoes, and ready to go!
mette said…
Duchesse: I´m sure I too will be wearing my coats for many years, actually the mink one is celebrating it´s 7 th year. The past 3 winters I got to use it only once ( the winters were so mild ), but this winter so far, has been a tough one, and I´m happy to wear mine now. A trench coat(ish) is practical too, but last year, since there were so many of them around, I sold my old Burberry and even got something for it.
Duchesse said…
sisty: My favourite Madame-ism is to simply not accept an engagement ring that is under 5 carats; wait, she advises, until your husband can offer it, and wear a plain gold band till then.

Frugal: And they last!

Jane: Good pea coats are surprisingly durable. Five and going strong is very good!

Belle: I amuse myself imagining Jessica Simpson arriving for her licensing meetings and being shown the clothes. The few items I've seen were nicely made.

materfamilias: And I still think of that Oscar de la Renta jacket at Thrill!

metscan: I saw the most exquisite shade of mink the other day, mid-grey with the lightest undertone of lilac. Very minimal style, like a collarless jacket, hip length. Worn with jeans and high boots, by a woman about 23.
Mardel said…
Oh I love coats and a nice one is such a necessity. Perhaps that is why I have ended up with a collection. After all, the coat is what everyone sees for quite a few months of the year, and they last so long. Yesterday I was wearing a coat that is still in fabulous shape after 11 years; I wouldn't have thought it so long, until I remembered it was a 40th birthday gift.
Anonymous said…
You know, you are so right about a great coat!!!!! No matter what you have underneath it, YOU ARE that coat from the observer's perspective.

I am working on a workshop for business women about how their "off-hours" style can affect their bottom line. That means you THINK about an outfit you can wear to the store at 11p.m. to pick up a gallon of Ben and Jerry's that you would'nt be MORTIFIED to run into a client or prospect in.

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