I’ve been seeing flannel and plaid jackets everywhere this year, most ubiquitously at retailers like H&M;, Forever 21, and Urban Outfitters which cater to youngsters. I have to admit, the trend does seems to look best on those with “grungy chic” style, paired with their skinny jeans and worn-out vans slip-ons. I less often see it done right as part of a professional wardrobe. For something that’s on-trend yet stylish and work-appropriate, I turned to the master of both check and outerwear: Burberry!
Although there was a large selection at the Burb store, I came in with predetermined requirements. I knew what I didn’t want: no logo Nova check, no shiny materials, no long length (all my current coats are long!). Features that I wanted: warm, flannel-like material, style that could be worn for both work and casual, in a nice monochromatic color scheme.
There was only 1 item at the store that met all of my above requirements, and… I happened to love it!
A felted jacket in navy, gray, and charcoal plaid immediately caught my eye amongst the more conservative and classic offerings by Burberry this year. Although classic is timeless, sometimes you just want something a little more interesting. The jacket I found was warm and cozy, and made edgier by lots of heavy duty zippers and hardware. I tried on a size 2 and although it was a little big, I could tell it was definitely workable. The shoulders – very 1st thing I look at – fit perfectly and all the proportions seemed on-point, or at least alterable. Even if the buttons or belt loop placements were off, those could have been easily altered.
During the fitting, I requested the torso be slimmed, and the sleeves shortened and slimmed. As I had expected (and feared), the tailors said the only alteration they believed was needed was the shortening of the sleeves. Since they’ve done this to me before, I came prepared this time and was determined not to be a pushover again! I also wonder since the alterations are complimentary (for full retail priced items), whether they are used to pushing for as little adjustments as possible. Although I valued their opinion, I wanted the alterations done right the first time – per my own preferences. After some more bickering, the head tailor agreed, muttering under his breath about how it was going to cost one of his staff an entire day’s work. He then barked at my SA for a smaller size, but Burberry currently does not carry petite coats nor sizes below a 2 in the US.
Anyways, the haggling with the tailor was well worth it, because I was very pleased with the end result. They did a meticulous alteration job, especially with the realignment of the check pattern and working with the hardware.Thanks to my friend, I was able to sneak in some “before” photos in the fitting room to show the alterations : )
Front (Sleeves shortened and slimmed. Sleeve buckles were removed and reattached, zippers were cut and re-clamped):
Before –> After
Before –> After
Back (torso was taken in 1 inch along each of the two back seams, where the belt loops are, to create more of a “waist” shape):
Before –> After
End result, belted – love it for casual wear with skinny jeans and ankle boots:
Or for going to work with slim-cut pants and pumps:
Burb is all about the details:
So to summarize, some tips for petite women shopping for a coat:
1. Ask a knowledgeable sales associates to recommend slim-cut styles or cuts that run small for the season. I do this at Burberry and the Theory outlet and have gotten a few good recommendations out of it.
2. Make sure that the shoulders fit and that the unalterable aspects (collar size comes to mind) are right. Although I’ve had both done, shoulder and lapel alterations are difficult and costly – often not worth the risk. Coat length and width are usually alterable, but make sure you go to a good tailor and expect to pay anywhere from $40 to the hundreds.
3. Know the way you like things to fit, and make sure you get the exact alterations you want despite what the tailor says. Definitely take their suggestions into consideration, but in the end you are the one paying for and wearing the coat so there should be no reason to make compromises.
Although, I admit I used to have tiny-fit syndrome. I was so sick of having ill-fitting clothes that I would get everything altered almost skin tight. With alterations, it’s helpful to leave a little leeway (or ask the tailor to maintain a seam allowance) in case of future changes in tastes or weight gain : )
4. If you’re interested in a new coat and happen to be in the Boston area, go, go, go to my sales associate (John Doherty). He’s been at Burberry forever and knows womens trench coats and outerwear unlike anyone I’ve ever met. John works Tuesday through Sunday at the 2 Newbury St store, and it’s better to go during weekdays for a peaceful shopping experience. I usually call in just to make extra sure he’s working before I make the trip.
Aside from him being the coat guru, I love John because he treats everyone with the same respect regardless of spending ability – now wouldn’t it be nice if all SA’s were that way? I used to visit that store as a poor college student, decked out in A&F; and H&M;, clearly with no intention to spend money. Regardless, John treated me equally if not better than the lady with the 3 Chanel shopping bags. Now that I’m an actual customer, he has also dissuaded me from buying something that he does not think looks great on me (point in hand – I was at JCrew this weekend couldn’t resist trying on the Carlin coat. It was swimmingly ill-fitting on me, yet 2 sales associates came over to gush about how great I looked). It’s service like that which makes me not regret the money spent!