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We enlisted Catherine Dunwoody, a fashion stylist with They Representation, to share her tips for finding the ideal jacket for a new season. By keeping colour, fit and design in mind, your quest for a seasonally appropriate and stylish outer layer will be a successful -- and dare we say enjoyable -- one.
1. Skip the seasonal "it" factors
As tempting as it may be to reintroduce past trends into your 2012 wardrobe, Dunwoody suggests avoiding jackets that have what she refers to as "seasonal it factors." These are components from the trends of seasons past that can quickly date a more current item of clothing. For example, one-button, cropped cocoon jackets with three-quarter sleeves and jackets featuring Peter Pan collars were two popular trends in 2011, and they may look like they were purchased last season even if you only bought them last week, she explains.
2. Don't overspend on trends
Don't be tricked into shelling out more than you're comfortable spending in hopes of picking up the perfect spring staple -- especially if the jacket you choose ends up erring on the side of trendy versus timeless.
"Spending a load of cash on a trendy piece isn't a good idea," says Dunwoody. "Absolutely buy that bright, tangerine-hued jacket, but since it may likely be old news next year, choose from one of the great cheap and chic department store brands," she advises.
3. Select a timeless design
If you choose correctly, a spring jacket -- whether it is denim, khaki or leather -- will last you for years, and Dunwoody maintains that timeless pieces are the ideal investment.
"Look for a classic khaki or tan trench with details and styling that are standard," she says. This means no oversize lapels or cropped lengths, which tend to go in and out of style. For casual wear, she recommends a feminine and fitted jean jacket in basic blue or a buttery soft leather jacket with a zip front, both of which are classic outerwear looks. As for peacoats, avoid anything big and bulky, as it will be too heavy for spring, and stick to neutral colours such as sand, navy or black, the stylist advises.
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4. Adopt a sporty style
This season, both trendy and timeless spring jackets have adopted a sportier esthetic, and it's a look Dunwoody says has staying power.
"The sporty influence was everywhere this spring," she tells us, citing the anorak, in particular, as a style that boasts both fashion and function. "It's the perfect jacket for spring, summer and early fall."
If you want a spring coat that you can wear for several seasons and that will last, she recommends looking for "techy, lightweight fabrics like ripstop nylon or neoprene." Try pairing your sporty outer layer with lightweight, summer dresses for an urban twist on flirty, feminine basics.
5. Ensure proper fit
A shapeless jacket can create the illusion of excess weight where there is none --which is a problem that no one wants -- so Dunwoody stresses the importance of good fit.
"If you are trying to minimize your hips, choose a jacket that covers your behind," she advises. "Sometimes women hide behind loose, shapeless sacks when it comes to jackets, but you should look for something with a little waist and a bit of shape."
Even a looser look with a belt or drawstring that you can cinch slightly will help create a more flattering fit.
6. Keep jackets and blazers separate
Despite the popularity of blazers this season, Dunwoody advises against treating them like jackets. "A well-fitting blazer should be in every woman's closet, but you need outwear, too, which is what a jacket is," she stresses. Since layering is ideal for temperamental spring temperatures, you want a jacket that you can layer over several other pieces so you can remove items as the day warms up, which is something a blazer doesn't allow for. "Buy a jacket you can wear over anything," the stylist advises.
While finding the perfect spring jacket amid the myriad options available may seem frustrating, the experience can be an easy one. If you keep these shopping tips top of mind as you head to the mall and remember to balance trendiness with timeless design, then finding a jacket that works for you should be a snap.
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