Get Yourself a Silly Winter Coat

Photo: Nailia Ruechel
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I try not to resent insurmountable forces of nature. Resenting them doesn’t accomplish anything, and it sounds exhausting to be super mad at, like, my looming mortality instead of more pressing matters, like someone who has expressed an incorrect food opinion on social media. There comes a time every year, though, when I succumb to my baser urges and fume impotently for months on end: when faced with the indignity of having to endure another winter in the northeast, a reality for which I am neither physically nor mentally suited.

Or at least that’s how I felt until two years ago, when I bought a leopard faux fur coat on a whim and it totally changed my relationship with the season, despite not actually solving any of my real winter problems. So if you also dread winter, or even mildly dislike it, I’m here to tell you how to distract yourself from that until you can see the light at the end of the tunnel in early spring: Let your old black parka do wet-weather duty for another year and buy yourself a silly coat to wear on every dry day until March. (Or until June, or maybe not starting until January — coat logistics have gotten a little wonky in the past few years.)

First, it’s important to define our terms. What constitutes a silly coat is going to vary a lot depending on the person who’ll be wearing it, but in general, it’s an aggressive aesthetic departure from whatever staid choices you might be inclined to make. Your silly coat is whichever one your eye might linger on while you’re in the process of convincing yourself it would be a better idea to buy something neutral and classic. It’s the coat you see and think to yourself, “I wish I were cool enough to pull that off.” But you are, or at least you can be. What no one ever tells you about fashion is that “pulling it off” is mostly just having the guts to buy something weird and wear it as though everyone else is an idiot for not thinking to do it before you.

The fastest shortcut to an aggressive outerwear situation is fur, and we are living in an absolute golden age of faux fur in particular. It’s widely available in sizes petite to plus, as well as in an ever-expanding array of bright colors, prints, and textures. On the low end, plenty of options exist at around a hundred bucks, and although you can certainly spend more — you can always spend more — it doesn’t really matter. The point here is to look fun, which is not the same as looking expensive, because American norms around luxury often ask those indulging to maintain a sense of restraint that simultaneously obfuscates and perpetuates the country’s class hierarchies. Effectively, that enables those conventions to exclude anyone who can’t instinctively tell the difference between, say, good and bad cable-knit sweaters, but without ever signaling that’s what happened. So you’re not trying to look like you spend your summers in Maine, but rather that you might know the guy who sells coke to the rich teens whose parents own those houses. Or at least that’s the girl on my silly coat vision board; your mileage may vary, and so will your silly coat.

The most common concern I hear about buying a ridiculous coat is that they’re a risky use of a utilitarian outerwear budget because they won’t match with everything, but that’s just fear talking, and today, we’re here to be brave. Also, on a factual level, that’s bullshit. Both “matching” and “neutrals” are false concepts propagated by the Makeover Show Industrial Complex, designed to keep you in an office-appropriate boring-ass blazer-and-trouser-jeans outfit until you shuffle off this mortal coil. And even if you care deeply about making sure it looks like you bought everything you’re wearing on the same day and at the same store, winter coats only need to coordinate with with the leggings or pants (or leggings as pants, it is not my place to judge) sticking out from the bottom, which are almost always a solid expanse of denim or black textile. That’s the genius of the silly winter coat: It covers everything. Your outfit, your sins, your crushing sense of existential dread, whatever.

That’s why, of course, a silly coat is such an effective remedy for winter angst. Ninety-five percent of people you encounter in the cold are going to notice your coat, your head and virtually nothing else. You could be wearing the airbrushed T-shirt from Spring Break Daytona Beach 2006 under there and no one would be the wiser. And the people who see you will compliment your coat, because spotting anything interesting or lively or hopeful in a cityscape dotted mostly with roving piles of grumpy black nylon makes everyone happy. You and your silly coat will bring joy to those around you, and you won’t even have to wear a real outfit for, like, six months.

If you’re looking to buy a silly coat of your own, here are some solid options:

Loft Plush Jacket, $168
Rachel Antonoff Velvet Puffer Coat, $398
Diane von Furstenberg Oversized Faux Fur Coat, $600
Steve Madden Confetti Wool Blend Coat, $118
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