Darren Kennedy fashion file: How to wear the sleeveless coat
...fashion's most useful item yet
Until recently, the sleeveless coat - which has been a slow-burner on the catwalk for four years - was a tricky proposition for most women. Built for tall, willowy types, it dwarfed the petite. However, now the high street has rescaled and re-fabricated it, it's no longer huge and heavy.
The sleeveless-coat is shaping up to be the most useful workwear item currently in existence. Granted, it doesn't sound promising. Sleeveless anythings generally elicit horror in the female of the species. And a sleeveless coat sounds daft. But the whole point of the sleeveless coat is that it's designed to slip over something else. That something else will generally be long-sleeved - a shirt, a jumper… Are you following me? In other words, the sleeveless coat can go any which way. You can wear it unfastened as an actual mid-season coat. Style it down with flat riding boots, chunky jumpers and jeans.
Or belt it and sling on some mid-heels. With polised accessories you've got your self a nifty figure-enhancer that is a) smart b) cool c) much less constricting than a tailored dress, although it is, technically a sleeveless-coat-come-dress. At night you can wear it on its own as a more feminine version of the tuxedo suit. During the day, with tailored trousers or culottes, it's a fresh spin on the suit.
Question: I'm not what you'd call 'fashion forward' or in anyway brave when it comes to my style but I like to keep up and try not to look dated. I'm wondering what few key pieces you would recommend to give my wardrobe a bit of a lift without going crazy? Siobhan, 29, Dublin.
Darren replies: Updating your wardrobe can be as simple as adding a few key pieces that tap into autumn winter's primary trends. All things 70s influenced continue to dominate this season and perhaps the easiest way to channel this trend is with a pussy bow. That's right, statement jewellery makes way for the vintage bow that is enjoying a major resurgence for autumn winter. The highstreet has followed high-end brands such as Gucci, Chloe and Emilio Pucci with pussy bows on shirts and dresses. (1) Penneys nail it with their burnt orange blouse (€13, which also comes in burgundy) while (2) New Look's paisley pussy-bow dress (€24.99) is feminine, whimsical and right on the money. All things oriental-inspired proved to be another top-line trend this year. Think cherry-blossom prints, exotic florals, kimonos and chic origami draping. (3) Zara's striped kimono sleeve top (€29.99) offers a subtle yet very wearable take on this trend. Silhouettes clasped with obi belts channel a clean aesthetic so for a quick fix, an obi belt loosely knotted around your waist will add a touch of Japanese chic.
This gold one at (4) Dorothy Perkins (€18) will lift a simple black base. When it comes to outerwear, leather and military influences are perennial crowd-pleasers. (5) Massimo Dutti's double-breasted camel coat (€195) is at the same time a classic, while also an instant wardrobe updater this season. Made from a delicate wool blend, it features a straight cut with a wide notch lapel, long cap-style sleeves and welt pockets.
Isabel Marant, ankle boots, €720, Brown Thomas. Our love affair with snake print has begun.