Once upon a time, when my social life revolved around “going into town” in Wellington on at least Friday AND Saturday night, I was really quite cold for at least two nights a week through the middle of the year. I owned one proper winter coat, and a beautiful leather and fur coat passed down by my Nana, and neither of those was going to be chucked on the floor at The Establishment. I also came of drinking age in a time when you could still smoke inside (this seems INSANE to me now) and so you couldn’t take anything out with you that you didn’t want to absolutely reek of stale cigarette smoke. Honestly, between the risk of pneumonia and the second hand smoking it’s a miracle I made it into my 20s at all.
I don’t know what other 34 year olds are up to of an evening, but cutting shapes until 2am and then eating a Whopper Junior combo is no longer a part of my usual social scene (I mean, there are always rare exceptions). Now it’s more likely to be a dinner, or some kind of event-based outing, that has me throwing on the glad rags. Sadly, this means a collection of town tops is no longer required. On the HUGE upside, that means I can wear good quality outerwear! I am no longer at risk of dying of exposure!
This outfit was inspired by two things: Balenciaga's move towards more aggressive silhouettes in jackets and coats, and the introduction of wide cuffs in the high street. This coat is the Italian Navy coat I picked up from the Army surplus store for a ridiculously low $50. It’s possibly the most stylishly masculine thing I could imagine owning – a coat designed for an Italian officer. I can practically feel my testosterone levels ticking up when I put it on. I chose this because it has broad shoulders and is double breasted. If you’re going to wear something like this, with strong proportions, you have to go fully in. Otherwise it will just look like you’re wearing something that doesn’t quite fit, which will be jarring instead of Fashion-y. (I can’t wait to wear this again over a miniskirt with ankle boots, so I can pretend that I borrowed it to run errands, like some ingénue in 1960s London.)
The shirt is a relatively recent purchase from Topshop, and is also a little oversized. The key feature on this shirt is the long cuff, which makes it perfect for wearing under coats and jerseys. It takes a little getting used to, because of course your hands are somewhat covered, but as my Pinterest boards evidence I am intrigued by the possibilities of these proportions. Winter is all about the layering game, so this shirt with a singlet under it (NO SHAME LADIES) and a woollen jersey over it is the perfect option. It adds the sense you made some kind of effort in a way that a basic jersey just cannot.
It’s also long enough to cover my backside, which brings us to trousers. Look, I know the debate over whether leggings are pants raged for years, and ultimately we probably all just needed to calm down. But here’s my take – leggings can be great in an outfit instead of pants. They’re extremely streamlined, and they’re stretchy in a way that my jeans have just never achieved. Perfect if you’re going out for dinner! The key, in my view at least, is to buy a pair in a heavy-enough fabric. Ideally they shouldn’t be any more clingy or revealing than a pair of tight skinny jeans. I have a strict “no athleisure” policy, because I am a weirdo who hates being comfy, so I’ll never wear gym clothes anywhere that isn’t the gym. However, I will wear these leggings out and about because they’re easy enough to dress up. I even wore them to work once – but that wasn’t my favourite outfit.
Finally, my secret for everything is red lipstick. This is, at its core, a very casual and comfortable outfit, but the proportions of the shirt against the leggings, the high high heels, and the addition of a red lip makes it all feel coolly perfect for a night that will likely feature some good wine, great company and a bit of mood lighting. A vast improvement over scratchy lurex worn with supaflares and kitten heels, that’s for sure.