‘Walk away from IT,’ said my daughter, as I contemplated a single-breasted tweed.
She’s right. I have a lot of jackets. But that’s because they work. Some of them are a decade old. That’s why I have so many. Not because I’m a spendthrift. Honest.
But since we’re being confessional, some of them don’t work. At the start of my jacket fixation, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Like the colour? Vaguely within budget? If the answer to both or, let’s be honest, one of those questions was affirmative, I bought it.
There’s a lot that can go wrong with a jacket. If the shoulders are too boxy, you’ll look like a wad of packaging. If the jacket’s fashionably oversized and you’re petite, you’ll look like an unattractively precocious child.
If the lapels are too narrow, you might look a bit dated – but that’s a secondary consideration to what suits you. Wide, shoulder-skimming, 1970s-style lapels are currently the most current, but can swamp you if you’re small. Same story with a longer jacket, which lots of women think is the solution to their woes, because it covers bums and thighs. It shortens legs by at least a third. Personally, I’d take an item of clothing that made my bum look on the generous side over something that made my legs look like two acorns.
But play them right and jackets can chisel waists, straighten shoulders, camouflage tummies or bring out your hidden vamp. It’s all about the cut and fit. Single-breasted is easier than double-breasted because it tends to look less square when worn open (be sure to check this option before buying). A dash of stretch helps the fit. And price isn’t always a benchmark. My four-year-old J Crew Regent jacket fits better than far more expensive ones; & Other Stories’ belted workwear safari-style jackets are another winner.
Find a really good alterations haven – to shorten sleeves and move buttons, as well as to tweak the cut. None of us is symmetrical. Some judicious padding (especially on the breastbone) works wonders. Treat your jackets like the marvels they are; not just for this season, but potentially for life.