Right now, the chicest way to wear a coat is to not. During this month of frigid fashion weeks, photo after photo showed that women are skipping sleeves in favor of a slung-jacket look: not actively putting on the coat, just letting it be there, draped on their shoulders and guarding against the cold. In the past, styling outerwear like this was for editorials—a practical way to exhibit every layer of a winter look. But as the space outside the tents becomes more and more akin to a set, this trick is making a transition into the real world.
Logistically, of course, an open coat won’t stay on your shoulders. Wave to a friend and it falls. Turn a corner into a powerful gust, and there it goes. Don’t even think about putting your hair in a ponytail. Hugs are out of the question. But impractical as it may seem, there is a way to pull off the coat-as-cape without losing your top layer.
First, the best times for slinging are when you’re in transit—moments in which you can enjoy the way your clothes move on your body, and want to feel confident showcasing the corresponding colors and textures of your whole outfit, like the stroll from brunch to a museum, from the office to a nearby outside meeting, or from the school run back to the house. And once inside, wearing a coat like this is a stylish way to forgo the coat check—and the line for the coat check. Accessories become all-important. If you need the full coverage a coat offers, your second layer better compensate for lost warmth. No one looks cool when they’re cold. Pick a cashmere sweater or even a second shorter jacket to go underneath your slung outerwear. And carry a clutch rather than a bag with a strap. Your shoulders are taken, remember? Admittedly, this is a lot to think about just to keep from putting your coat all the way on. But to those who increasingly feel that public space is as inspiring for fashion as the pages of a magazine, it’s worth it to play with the basics, feel proud of your fashion prowess, and truly style yourself.
Check out how I like to rock the anti-jacket trend below: