As we pull on our fur-lined Uggs and zip up our Moncler padded coat against the Arctic chills we must, nevertheless, turn our minds to our key spring fashion needs or risk missing out on the most desirable and essential pieces. You can bet your bottle of Chanel jade nail polish that if you don’t grab them now they will be gone forever, because in this credit-crunched climate, brands and retailers are not prepared to risk over-producing.
And what we least want to miss out on is the perfect spring cover-up, the coat or — more likely — raincoat we will yearn to pull out of the closet come March or April and which will look fabulous with our entire spring wardrobe.
There are, in theory, two options this year: the trenchcoat or a more formal coat. Realistically, however, in the world of cover-ups, spring 2010 will be dominated by the trench, from designer to high street.
This, in our meteorologically confused country, is not entirely surprising. A trenchcoat looks equally good over tailoring or with jeans, can be whisked out as soon as the temperature rises a couple of degrees (and can accommodate an extra layer of knitwear when it drops again), and continues to be useful through a typical British summer. You can’t, however, just put on a trenchcoat. To look on trend you must push up the sleeves, turn up the collar, and tie the belt — even when there is a buckle.
On the catwalks, the trench was reworked everywhere: ravishingly at Dries van Noten in pink-and-gold brocade; at Elie Tahari in white broderie anglaise; at Phillip Lim in shiny red patent; and by Christopher Bailey at Burberry Prorsum, who turned his out in mouthwatering, barely-there neutrals and pastels and embellished them with twists of fabric and draping.
For purists who disapprove of such embellishment, Browns (www.brownsfashion.com) has a classic Burberry Brit trench at £695 in rich tobacco, which will go on looking perfect forever. Austin Reed also has a sharp trench with wide collar and lapels and bold buttons, at £199. Jaeger also has a sassily styled trench in the season’s favourite pastel lemon at £299. At Fenwick, there is a pretty Max & Co double-breasted, heavy cotton trench with big lapels and pintuck waist in grey or beige at £329.
On the high street, one of the most desirable trenchcoats is by Jil Sander in her +J collection for Uniqlo. A terrific take on the classic trench, with wide collar and lapels, it is available in palest grey, caramel or navy at £99.99.
Reiss, which probably comes closest to designer quality on the high street, has a fabulously on-trend trench in shiny navy poplin with bone buttons and eyelet belt, at £265. Banana Republic (now at Brent Cross), has its classic trench, a spring perennial both sides of the Atlantic, as well as a terrifically edgy trench in denim, both £140.
Marks & Spencer has also subverted the classic trench with a tan military mac (£140) with oversized sleeves in its Per Una range.
There are trenches in zingy colours, too: Debenhams’ look-at-me orange, £80; French Connection’s on-trend turquoise, £160; Dorothy Perkins, cherry red; £45; M&S fuchsia, bracelet-sleeve trench, £69.
At New Look there is a sharp, short trench in white lace print, at £55, while Zara has an unusual take on the classic trench in light beige cotton with puff shoulder and concealed buttons, £99.
The lightweight coat, done by a clutch of designers — from Marni with her salmon-pink, edge-to-edge coat, Betty Jackson with an edgy lightweight overcoat and Marc Jacobs with a latte-coloured fly-front, belted coat — is harder to find on the high street. Reiss has a polished navy, shawl collar wrap coat at £245, while M&S offers a three-quarter length navy kimono coat at £49.50. Fenwick has a stunning navy hooded knee-length cape coat in coated linen by Joyce Ridings at £349 and Paul & Joe’s sugar pink, single-breasted knee length coat with peter pan collar at £599. Clever Helene Berman has sassy swingcoats and wide-collar belted ones in plains, smudgy prints and spots.