Coats are like handbags: We wear them every day, and they are the basics of a new fashion season. They are probably the biggest wardrobe investments you'll make. With so many choices available, make your cover-ups into style statements that you'll wear for years to come. Here are some of the best ways to wrap up this year:
—Double up on the fun. Many coats are larger than life and are perfect for layering on top of jackets, sweaters and even other coats. Just toss a slouchy oversize coat over a sleeker, fitted coat. Blanket coats are one of the best ways to top off an outfit.
—Belt it. Oversize coats are not all cozy cocoons. These coats' waists still come into focus when belted with soft wrap ties. This new nonchalant ease is reminiscent of Old Hollywood "bathrobe" coats, which stars such as the Hepburn girls made famous. Long trench coats are easily transformed by this glamorous upgrade.
—Make it menswear. If soft and slouchy is not quite your style, there are plenty more-tailored coat options to wear this fall. A classic three-quarter-length coat in a menswear tweed, check or plaid is a sophisticated way to dress up suits for work. The tailored wool or cashmere coat in camel — in long or short versions — is a coat that will stand the test of time.
—Go with faux. The fur is flying this year, and you don't need a million bucks to get the luxury feel of the fluffy stuff. From shaggy cropped chubby jackets to sweeping teddy overcoats, these faux furs layer effortlessly over jeans or dresses. They can also add a whimsical touch to your work or weekend wardrobe. If you don't have any animal prints in your closet, consider adding a fuzzy leopard coat this year.
—Puff it up. You no longer have to worry about looking like a giant marshmallow when you want to wear a toasty-warm puffer jacket. The new down jackets are much more figure-friendly, tailored into lean fur-trimmed vests and waist-cinching bombers. In high-tech lightweight fabrics, the new puffer parkas are as at home on city streets as they are on the ski slopes. Experiment with one in a neon color to really stand out this fall and winter.
—Love leather. One of the most sophisticated ways to chase away the chills this year is with a leather coat. "Shine" is the word: Glossy patent slickers and trenches give a basic coat wardrobe a whole new way to sparkle. Black is always a leather lover's favorite, but red stops traffic. These statement coats instantly elevate anything you wear with them. Oh, and they make great raincoats, too.
—Be a caped crusader. Capes, shawls, ponchos and wraps are all versatile ways to add an elegant surprise update to your coat closet. These extra accessories are flattering on women of all shapes and sizes. They can add an extra dash of playful color to a casual outfit, or a touch of elegance to a cocktail dress. In warmer climates, these chic pieces are a stylish alternative to heavier toppers. They also make great traveling companions — and perfect holiday gifts.
To find out more about Sharon Mosley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.