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Contrasting fabrics give winter coats an edge

| Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, 5:53 p.m.

Combining dual fabrics into outerwear is the coolest way to keep warm as winter approaches.

Mixing materials gives a coat cool details, says Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom fashion director. “These coats make a statement. It's kind of like an ensemble. We saw lots on the runways. This type of coat can be the centerpiece to an outfit.”

The trend, says Marissa Rubin, senior market editor for People Style Watch, “gives you a classic-looking coat with a little bit of edge. The textures give the outerwear a new look. And it doesn't have to be big. Details such as ruffles or trim can be done in a different fabric to create just that little bit of intrigue.”

Gwendolyn Covington, a style editor for zappos.com, says mixed-material winter coats are a fresh update to your outerwear wardrobe. The mixed materials draw attention with textures, such as leather with tweed or suede with fur, that give a futuristic twist to your everyday look, she says.

The best fabrics to combine are leather (or vegan leather) with tweed or wool. Leather is often used on the arms of a coat and offers a sleek, shiny, smooth surface that stands out next to tweeds that often have a matte, multitextured feel, Covington says. The more the fabrics contrast, the better they pair.

When it comes to mixed-material coats, the best look seems to be longer lengths, at or right above the knee. More coat means more opportunities to play with mixed materials. And, if it's long enough, you can add a belt as a third detail to the mix, Covington says.

“Leather mixing, wool mixing, tweeds and paneling are all ways to mix fabric and material to create something special,” says Josh Saterman, Macy's fashion director. “A mixed-media coat of any kind looks great in all-over black, or black with a slight pop of color with navy, gray or even red.

“We love mixing leather and cottons for a parka,” Saterman says. “This is a great look for running around town. We love boucle mixed with tweeds and basket-weaves as we move into winter. The options, though, are endless.”

Look to designer Rebecca Taylor for an example of how to create this look, says Lindsay Huggins, senior fashion market editor for Self magazine. For herself, Huggins bought a camel coat with peach, quilted-leather sleeves, which are removable. Not only will it keep her warm, she says, “it's really cool-looking.” The leather sleeves toughen up the look a bit but avoid a motorcycle-jacket look.

“Outerwear has become a statement piece,” Huggins says. “If you are tired of buying the same old peacoat, try a mixed-material coat. These mixed-material coats are sharp and modern, and I don't see them going out of style.”

If you are leery of mixed materials, you can choose a color-block option, which gives the “multiple” look without different fabrics.

Roberta Weissburg Leathers in Shadyside and SouthSide Works offers coat combinations such as mink, cashmere and lamb; rabbit and fox; a wool vest with a leather string belt; and a cape made of fur and cashmere.

“These are really investment pieces,” says owner Roberta Weissburg. “People today want options, and these coats give them options. They show creativity and interest in the use of dissimilar materials which complement each other. These coats are more interesting.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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