Our Uniform, Vol. 1: The Camel Coat
Starting as an aesthetic coven, of course, the strongest bonds for us have come from sharing fashion we love. Our styles vary, without a doubt, as we each have our own histories, proportions, and even color mood preferences, but it’s not uncommon for us to gravitate toward the same pieces over time, and even wear them at the same time. Every coven has a uniform, after all. In an exciting new series, we’ll discuss our forever pieces, and how we wear them. Think of it as a “How To Dress Like The Attic.”
The camel coat is an icon. Originally known as the polo coat for its utilitarian shape and clean cut lapel, it was worn in the early twentieth century as a versatile statement piece by men and women alike. Exuding glamour in an accessible way, it has been made in every material from the original camel hair (where its second name took shape) to cashmere, silk, and wool. Every designer has had their hand at designing a spin on the piece and it has stood the test of time.
It is, also, a piece that is difficult to style. Light in color, often long, often belted, it isn’t as easy to wear as it might once have been when the women who wore them were more likely to go out in dresses or heels on a daily basis. The world has moved on from everyday, pre-war glamour and global climate struggles can even leave us without occasion to bother with midweight outerwear anymore. As other precariously classic pieces, it can even make its wearer seem older, or old-fashioned.
That however did not stop us from taking over the trend and making it our own. The Attic’s resident old world glamour obsessives Olivia, Raquel, and Rory talk their beloved camel coats:
My camel coat came to me by chance. My mom and I randomly went into a vintage shop in Carouge, in Switzerland, and there it was. Several sizes too big, but brand new Max Mara and just what I wanted. It was also an absolute steal at a fraction of the cost of a new coat from a Max Mara boutique — definitely my best vintage find to date. I didn’t feel mature enough to wear it at the time — I was twenty — and though it was too big, I knew it was too good to pass up. My grandmother had a similar Max Mara coat, though hers was a shade too dark for my taste, and her love for it had inspired me to have my own on hand for the future. (It inspires me even more now because when she decided it was too long for her once she hit her mid-eighties, she took a pair of scissors to it and made it even more her own.) I’m glad I did because it fits me beautifully now and has become a springtime favorite.
I definitely struggled with styling the coat for a long time. I don’t wear trousers very often, and definitely not in winter or with boots, so I didn’t really know what to do with it and ended up putting a lot of 1930s detective outfits together over several winters until I figured out how I love to style it. Now, I embrace the fact that it’s a light color and that mine is belted, and so I wear it more like an extremely luxurious robe in the springtime. Skirts, dresses, sheer tights, and smoking slippers. It makes me feel both extremely relaxed and elegant at the same time. It’s become a decidedly seasonal coat for me — best worn in March with an extra pop of color when I’m no longer drawn to wearing lots of autumn and winter black.
My coat was a Christmas gift from my mum and dad. It was something I had been wanting for a long time, and it was so exciting to receive it! I love that it is longer than my usual coats and that its cut is a bit bohemian. It’s the kind of coat I feel you can style both for day, with jeans and sneakers, and for the night, maybe with a little black dress and stilettos. I feel like a coat like this is a statement piece, it always makes me feel powerful and put together. And it’s absolutely ideal for the beginning of spring when the sun starts appearing more often but there’s still a chill in the air.
My camel coat was a completely random find as well. I was eighteen and moving across the country. Having spent the first eighteen years of my life in a warm climate I didn’t own anything heavier than a light jacket, and knew the east coast wouldn’t be so kind to that. I was shopping for a more traditional pea coat when I stumbled upon this one and was struck by its dramatic shape — the sleeves are very bell like and the collar is enormous, and a massive bonus was the fact that it was cropped perfectly for my frame. I adore large, voluminous coats now but ten years ago I was terrified by the idea of something that might swallow me and so long coats didn’t make it into my wardrobe until later, when I experienced my first real winter and learned your legs get cold too.
In addition to its dramatic sleeves, the silhouette is triangular and double breasted. With fuller skirts and heeled boots, I love to close it all the way and belt it, giving trench coat, Proenza Schouler Spring ‘08 vibes, but for more slim-lined outfits, like the trouser and cotton blouse I’ve got here, I’ve loved over the years wearing it open or over the shoulders and almost like a capelet. I love wearing it with more neutral floral prints, a weird print I find works best for me between seasons, after the dark florals of winter and before the bright white eyelets of summer.