The Style List—September 2010
In L.A., outerwear is an object of desire, not protection from the cold by Cat Doran
If cool-weather clothing—or really classic sportswear of the type Katharine Hepburn made famous—revs your engine, then let me just say you are in luck. Between the sumptuous camel coats, the flattering high-waisted trousers, the smart little turtlenecks and the stockings with garters, no one would blame you if you were trying to refine your Main Line accent right about now.
I have to admit I’ve been a little critical of this return to sportswear sensibility. I’ve called it boring. I’ve snubbed it as being unnecessary to life in today’s Los Angeles. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to say if you can find me two women who live in L.A. who have a need for a sensible everyday winter coat, I’ll eat one of my six fur hats. I never get to wear any, so at least I’d be putting it to use.
My tale of the six fur hats and zero coats pretty much sums up L.A.’s relationship to cold-season clothing. Upon moving here, most people toss any and all remembrances of cruel winters spent in the hinterlands. (If you are actually an L.A. native, then you have never owned a winter coat anyway, and you can skip ahead.)
I always feel bad for anyone traveling to cooler climes in the winter months for anything other than hurtling down a mountain. I figure if they’re going skiing, they’ll either borrow the specific outwear or they’ll just buy some at the overpriced resort where they’re staying. If, on the other hand, they need to travel to, say, Minneapolis in January (yes, I’ve had to do this more than once) for work, then what on earth will they wear for a coat as they slog through mountains of slush in the Land of 10,000 Lakes? It’s not really acceptable to wear three sweaters piled on top of one another and call that outerwear, but it is a trick I have indeed tried—and not to great effect, let me tell you.
Sure, we all have a Free City puffer coat for those chilly canyon or beach nights here, and there are some Ugg boots shamefully sitting in every woman’s closet, but a beautiful double-faced cashmere coat or an elegant pair of wool pants? Those are not only impractical in L.A., they are a waste of precious closet space—which must be used instead for frivolous winter gear like the aforementioned hats and items fashioned from feathers that will be utilized in the dead of winter to pass as evening outerwear over sleeveless, backless dresses.
So, as I look more closely at this season’s highlights, I find myself doing a flip-flop worthy of a newly elected politician. I no longer see these cold-weather clothes as boring. Now I see them for what they truly are: complete and utter fantasy...for an Angeleno.
Point Made by Hayley Atkin
1. Chris Habana Single Spike earrings, $115, chrishabana.com
2. Jimmy Choo laquer and printed pony Latoya clutch, $1,695, jimmychoo.com
3. Lanvin Asymmetrical Escarpin polished heel, $1,115, net-a-porter.com
4. Tom Binns necklace, $1,015, Tom Binns Design, 917-475-1412