How to wear a robe coat

A robe coat can be a tricky little number – if you don’t get it right, you can inadvertently end up looking like you went out in your grandpa’s dressing gown.   However, if you can pull it off, welcome to a world of swishing about feeling extremely fabulous.  I feel like I’ve cracked the robe coat, so come in, sit down and learn from my experiences.

You can think of the robe coat in two ways.  The first is as an opportunity for the big reveal – wear it wrapped around you over a shorter skirt and a sensational blouse and whisk! it away to reveal the fabulousness underneath.  The second is as a cape with sleeves, worn over something more sensible and allowed to whirl around you in the Wellington "breeze"/the draft you create as you power stride down the street while listening to music v loud. I’ve worn this coat, from Lonely, in both ways, and my strong preference is “cape with sleeves” – at least at this stage of the year where I can still wear my coat open so long as my layers are very layered.

 In either case, to make it work, I recommend:

  • Pop that collar, baby.  I would usually Rather Not with the popped collar, but I’ll make an exception with this coat to send a clear “fancy pants” vibe.
  • Think about where the front of your coat is lying.  I wrap mine so that the front sides are nice and flat, tie the tie, then put my hands in the pockets and drag the two sides out diagonally.  It makes the coat easier to walk in and less of a straitjacket generally.
  • Intentional pants.  These are pants that look like you mean business.  These are not track pants, or leggings. 
  • Shooooooes on point.  The length of this coat means your shoes are essentially the most interesting part of your outfit if this coat blows shut or you have to do it up to avoid being frozen.
  • Don’t put things in your pockets.  This is just a Rule for Life if you are wearing something long and fairly unstructured, because a weight in one pocket will unbalance the coat and make it flap around strangely.  Balance.  In all things but especially robe coats.

I really enjoy this particular coat because it’s half-lined.  That means it’s lined around the shoulders and back, and into the sleeves, but the skirt part of the coat (if you like) is unlined.  Initially I was all “what the hell with the no lining Lonely” because this is not a cheap coat.  However, then I tried it on and swished it up and realised that the lack of lining makes the coat more flexible and swishable.  I don’t know if that’s why the coat isn’t fully lined, but I like it. 

This outfit features some other NZ faves for me, including this thrifted Karen Walker belt, my beloved Kate Sylvester Muse brooch, and these vintage pants from a label called Peacocks that I snagged from Savemart (a woman in the queue for the fitting rooms actually told me about them because she identified I would love them from looking at me – correct, strange lady).  Pro tip - if you want wool pants but you don't want to spend $$$$$$$, thrifted is the way to go. 

My inspiration, although I didn’t realise it until I was already strolling to work, was a bit of a military twist.  These trousers make me feel like a Colonel about to go and do some desultory service in Egypt, wearing a pith helmet and with a damp roll-your-own cigarette hanging out of my mouth at all times.   The coat evoked a great coat (sans button action) and who doesn’t love a belt with a bit of bling?