The crisp chill of a midwestern autumn is something to celebrateâ€”it’s a time for leisurely strolls to watch the foliage, apple picking excursions, and plenty of reasons to make cider and s’mores. It is also, however, a foreshadowing of the biting frost that is about to come. Because of this climate transition we go through each year â€” from brisk to bone chilling seemingly overnight â€” seasonal cities have come to appreciate the resourcefulness of a versatile item like fur. A material once the very essence of old money status and wealth, fur has been reinvented time and time again over the past several decades. The versions available today reflect the trends stylistically (no more overblown beaver coats with tails hanging off) and environmentally (faux is the only way to go). And the cuts and shapes resonate with an edgy youthfulness more so now than ever. And even if the thought of a heavy fur coat is too much to handle, the plethora of luxurious fur accessories being turned out are as playful as they are practical. You’ll be thankful for the investment once the dreaded Chicago wind-chill kicks in.
A fur trapper hat is one of those iconic pieces that never seems to go out of style. These days, it’s more common to spot one on a fashion-savvy girl on the street than it is to see one on an actual trapper (not that they’re very common around these parts). But the original users had the right idea, finding a topper that provided the ultimate amount of warmth to the head and ears during those long periods of having to be outdoors. Designers today like Milly have taken the original idea and stylized it in a fun and funky way, including elements like pom-poms, brims, and playful colors. Bop Basics’ faux version offers the same classic shape and fluffy, ear-flapped warmth.
The fur vest has long been a staple for stylish shoppers not yet ready to give up the ghost to winter, a well-tailored fur vest is light enough to wear both indoors and on those last, lingering days of fall when your vest, mittens, and a Starbucks cup are all you need for warmth. The classic brown/tan palette will complement virtually any ensemble underneath, making it probably the most versatile choice. Rebecca Taylor‘s longhaired version inspires a Swinging 60’s vibe, which could also work with wide-legged jeans and cashmere. And A Common Thread‘s faux version of the piece is refined enough to also be dressed up for evening.
Once you have signed yourself up for the full-on fur experience, you need to go find yourself a big, statement-making coat. Black reigns as the chicest go-to color for fur coats today, and shorter styles seem to be outranking the traditional, floor-sweeping length. The newest take on the trend involves longer-haired, spikier styles where the fur seems to either stand out or hang down as in the tragically hop Gucci style. Designers, like Diane von Furstenburg, are also experimenting with more sustainable types of fur, like shearling, to create the same wow factor in a more eco- and animal-friendly way. Though beastly looking at first, these longhaired black fur coats can make instantly transform anyone from regular to rockstar.
If you’re digging on the furriness on your head, arms or torso then why not include your little piggies into the action as well? Since fur is such a warmth-generating material, it really helps to have as much covered as possible â€” but in a stylish way of course. Thank goodness, we now have some seriously fab alternatives to Uggs. Roberto Cavalli kept his fur below the ankles on his fall 2009 runway and sometimes, similar to the trapper hat or the vest, that’s all you need to stay toasty. Marc by Marc Jacobs‘ faux versions are sumptuously thick with adjustable straps and should pay for themselves in comfort alone.
And finally, for everyone who may have yawned through all the previous choices of black, brown or gray versions of fur â€” it’s your time to shine. Who can resist the desire to don some hot, vampy, animal-printed fur, especially when it’s guilt-free? The outright girliness of a leopard or cheetah print coat, like Blumarine‘s luxe confections, is virtually unparalleled. The look is fun and sexy but still classy and sophisticated. The only word of caution is to resist the urge to drape yourself in print entirely and risk coming off as Cruella Deville. Though fine for the runway, avoid the head to toe look and opt for a perfectly cut piece, like this Alice + Olivia jacket, to stand out instead.
Fur pieces are pegged as some of the most valuable resources in cold weather fashion, due to the elegance of their look combined with the utmost practicality. But the key is in choosing one standout piece (or maybe two accessories if they are far away from each other on the body) and embracing it. Be careful in layering too many fur pieces â€” they may just swallow you whole!
Fur Trapper Hat
1. Runway: Milly Fall 2009 RTW
2. Realway: A Common Thread Faux Fur Vest $96
3. Runway: Rebecca Taylor Fall 2009 RTW
4. Realway: A Common Thread Faux Fur Vest $294
5. Runway: Gucci Fall 2009 RTW
6. Realway: Diane von Furstenberg Indina Shearling Leather Jacket $725
7. Runway: Roberto Cavalli Fall 2009 RTW
8. Realway: Marc by Marc Jacobs Faux-Fur Lace-Up Boots $350
Animal Print Fur
9. Runway: Blumarine Fall 2008 RTW
10. Realway: Alice + Olivia Shawl Collar Faux Fur Jacket $385
Runway photos: NY Mag.com