All aboard! Vegan waxed canvas trench coat, Vaute Couture. Vegan boots, Cri de Coeur. Steampunk cuffs, Steamheat. Brass coin necklace, vintage. Hoops, Turquoise.W
ithout even trying, one piece of clothing prevails in my wardrobe season after season. No matter the trend—retro, boho, or neon—it consistently reappears like a magic cloak. On a good day, it has the power to pull together a look, effortlessly. On a bad day, it can mysteriously camouflage any unfortunate mishap that may be lurking underneath.
I’m talking about the trench coat. First designed in 1850 for the British Army, it became popular with high-ranking officers battling to stay warm, dry and in style during World War I.
Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve owned several—each appropriate for its particular battle. The first at the tender age of 8, a sky-blue polyester London Fog purchased to compliment my Sunday best: an Easter-egg blue ruffled poly chiffon church frock. The dress eventually ended up smeared with chocolate, but the coat stood the test of time. In the college years, a shiny, short black patent trench escorted me on rainy nights of clubbing in the city until, like my bar-hopping lifestyle, it eventually fell apart. In my twenties, the patent made way for something more sensible; an ankle-length dark sueded rayon trench with oversized sleeves, appropriate cover for several shark-suited years working in corporate America.
By 30, the shark skin eventually peeled away to reveal my true color palette, exotic autumn. Shortly thereafter, I moved to San Francisco. Despite being happily transplanted to sunny California, I found the city so frigidly cold that I kept a runny nose and a tissue on hand whenever I ventured outdoors. That is, until I happened upon a quaint boutique on Union Street. There, I discovered my first designer trench. It was copper-hued with a wide ‘70s collar and belt; and a bright green satin lining that flirted shamelessly each time the wind blew my coattails.
Of all the trenches that have hung in my closet, none compares to the freshest: Vaute Couture’s Belden
coat in Havana. Out of her aptly named design studio and vegan couture boutique based in Brooklyn’s trendy Williamsburg quartier
, former model Leanne Mai-Ly Hilgart crafted this number with an eye for design, function and a love of animals.
Let’s start with the color, Havana—a neutral shade of bronze-y brown that fits squarely within my palette. (For you winters and springs out there, it also comes in Navy and Black). Next, the fabric: eco-friendly long-wearing waxed canvas, a vegan alternative to leather (and just as warm) with a hint of sheen. Weatherproof, but breathable. The silhouette: military inspired A-line with shiny brass buttons and a 3-way high collar to be worn down on warmer days. Falling just above the knee, it pairs perfectly over skinny jeans, sharp with a skirt, or for the adventurous, by itself. For good reason, the Belden is Vaute Couture's
most popular design, selling out season after season.
With the Belden, I dread not the coming change of weather. Bring on the wind. Bring on the rain. Fall steam ahead!