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Gone are the days when looking runway ready in a jacket meant having to make an uncomfortable choice. You could freeze your tail off wearing the latest style of jacket, or bungle the whole look staying warm in an oversized beige-colored trench coat. These days, a woman has several party jacket options, each of which might be perfect for a night on the town even as it handles the weather. The choices are so plentiful that you may need to spend extra time to settle on a single jacket.
Dress it up with a scarf, purse, or even gloves (to) accent what you’re wearing with the ‘it’ color. This way, you’re on trend with a look that fits you and your lifestyle.
- Felix Mercado, fashion stylist
As you browse through the coat racks, you will see a wide assortment of jackets. You must be selective, since one style does not fit at all. Felix Mercado, fashion stylist and host of NYC Media's series "Sidewalk Makeovers With Felix," saw proof of that during the fall 2011 runway season.
“I saw everything from cinched silhouettes at Peter Som to color-blocked plaid at DKNY to metallic polka dots at Marc Jacobs,” Mercado said. “Most of the trends I saw on those size zero’s can be a huge miss if fashion victims don’t know how to wear them.”
If you like the color or style of a jacket but can't afford the price, Mercado suggests you get an alternative jacket that flirts with the same style and go heavy on accessories.
“Dress it up with a scarf, purse, or even gloves (to) accent what you’re wearing with the ‘it’ color,” Mercado said. “This way, you’re on trend with a look that fits you and your lifestyle.”
One of the hottest looks this season is faux fur. It can be worn as a vest, jacket or a full coat as long as it's kept at a length from the waist to the hips.
“It’s warm and it gives a really nice dressy style,” said Monica Diaz, a New York-based personal stylist and owner of Monica Diaz Mode.
The cropped bolero-style faux fur jacket is one of Diaz’s favorite picks because of its versatility. It works with anything from a gown for a black-tie event to jeans and a silky top for a hip and trendy event.
Usually a staple in office attire, the blazer is breaking out as one of this season’s go-to pieces to complement any party ensemble.
Mercado liked the glamour that designer Prabal Gurung brought to the blazer in Gurung's fall 2011 ready-to-wear show. Gurung balanced the proportions of the jacket by color blocking the two main pieces, a white blazer and a black dress. The blazer is cinched in at the waist with a black belt, and the outfit is brought together with black lace panels on the blazer.
“This ensemble shows how you can be chic, elegant and on trend,” Mercado said.
If you are partying in a warmer area of the country -- or even on an unseasonably warm evening elsewhere -- a tuxedo jacket might serve you well.
“It’s not going to keep you warm if you live in New York, but you can definitely go with this look in lighter climates,” Diaz said. The tuxedo jacket is available in a variety of colors.
For the offbeat fashion lover, an oversized cardigan can be a chic alternative to the average blazer or jacket. The style adds a bit of quirkiness to a basic dress. Balance the look with bold color blocking.
Mercado advises taking a page from the DKNY runway show, in which the look was styled with a short, sexy dress.
“This is an important style tip with this look because the last thing you want is to be overdressed,” he said.
For a mod look, Mercado recommends the addition of single-color tights. Two or more colors will draw attention from the upper half, he warns.
When worn just right, a cape can make any outfit pop. The key is in the length. For an evening look, Diaz suggests a hip-length cape in a dark color such as burgundy, or a bright indigo blue to bring in color without going overboard.
A short cape can trick the eye to see flattering curves in any body type.
“I love a cropped cape with a pencil fit dress or skinny trouser, so that you’re giving the illusion of an hourglass shape, even though the cape is so voluminous,” Mercado said.
Classic A-Line Coat
The simple A-line black coat can be the perfect thing to wear with a metallic-toned party dress. Diaz says a metallic belt can pop with a short version like a black velvet jacket.
“J.Crew has a couple of really nice jackets like that,” she said.
Give your outfit a supermodel boost with a cropped jacket. Pair it with trousers for a chic and sexy style.
“It elongates your torso and can make your legs appear longer,” Mercado said. Among his favorite cropped jackets are those designed by Wes Gordon.
Classic Knee-Length Coat/Jacket
The single-breasted knee-length coat/jacket is a timeless option over pantsuits and knee-length or short dresses. Mercado says it can suit most body types. Brocade, velvet, cashmere, fur or silk blends are ideal fabrics for this style. Some come with detachable collars and embellishments, or you may add your own accessories.
“If you have just a regular wool black jacket, you can always put a faux fur collar and make it an evening look ... or add some belts to them to change the look from day to evening and make it more fun,” Diaz said.
If you're wearing an evening gown, no outerwear will work like a regal full-length coat. Mercado cautions, however, that the coat must match the dress.
"Wear a flowy topper with a slim dress, an empire line coat/jacket over a flowy dress or a slim topper with a slim dress," Mercado said. “But never ever wear a flowy topper with a flowy dress. Otherwise, you’ll look larger than life.”