Why I’m Swapping My Leather Jacket For This Wool Duster Coat

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Hear me out: I still love my leather moto jacket. It was one of my first big purchases ever, after waiting (and staring and drooling) for years. And I did wear that thing faithfully year after year after year. I wore it in Iceland, in NYC. I wore it constantly at home here in Philly. I wore it on a plane and picking up the kids from school. I wore it to the ballet over a ballgown skirt. I wore it with jeans, leggings, silky shorts, trousers, dresses — my leather moto has had its time to shine.

And it will again! Someday. I’m just…I’m taking a little break.

After trying on a ton of long wool coats, I appreciate that this Reiss duster is so lightweight.

coat (US 2/UK 6) – more sizes here | dress (S) | similar shoes

I had relied on my leather moto jacket to add an edge to most of my (boring?) staples, especially in the winter. If you’ve been following along for any length of time, you likely know this already, but bottom line?

I wear a lot of turtleneck sweaters.

And it worked! My leather jacket definitely added a little edge to my outfits. Plus, after years of wear, I can vouch for how honestly warm leather jackets can be. My leather jacket, when layered over a wool sweater with a beanie, scarf and mittens, could comfortably get me through many cold days in Philadelphia.

But lately…I’m looking for something different. I think, after 10 years (seriously, wow), I want a look that feels a little fresh. My old leather jacket symbolizes a whole decade that was both wonderful and, quite frankly, a little tough. It was the decade I recovered from breast cancer, it was the decade I lost my Dad, and it was the decade I transitioned from the mom of babies to the mom of a tween and teen.

My leather moto jacket, when layered over a wool sweater with a beanie, scarf & mittens, could comfortably get me through many cold days in Philadelphia.

It’s like when I finally stopped nursing and promptly gave up wearing cardigans. They’d had their moment in my life, and I was OVER IT. It’s kind of like that. I am starting to wear the odd cardigan again, so I suspect that my leather jacket will be back someday. But for now?

We’re on a break.

The Long Coat That’s Elevating My Fall & Winter Outfits: A Wool Duster

So…what’s replacing my old leather jacket? Frankly, there are a ton of really exciting possibilities. Jacket and coats are driving so many of the fall trends — a holdover, I think, from two years of only being able to socialize outside — that I’ve started working my outfits around which coat-and-boot combo I want to wear.

That said, there’s one coat style I’ve become particularly enamored with. It’s the lightweight wool duster.

Jacket and coats are driving so many of the fall trends that I've started working my outfits around which coat-and-boot combo I want to wear.

coat (US 2/UK 6) – more sizes here | similar bag

What is a wool duster coat? It’s basically a really long coat (sometimes called a “maxi coat”), where the hem hits well below your knees. Technically speaking, the hem *should* be all the way down to the floor (hence the name — it “dusts” the floor), but that term is both old-fashioned and not really practical, so now most long duster/maxi coats hit anywhere between the knees and ankles.

The advantage of a wool duster coat is that — like my old leather jacket — it works just as well with dressed-up evening looks as it does with jeans and a tee. I can even (again, like my leather jacket) slide it on over leggings and a sweatshirt if I’m running to school drop-off or a workout class. I can also spoof that whole “model off-duty” look with a sweatsuit and sneakers.

Not only does this type of coat do both casual and dressed up effortlessly, but it takes the guesswork out of outfits with tricky proportions too. Skirt hems of mini, midi or maxi lengths all work, as do both long and cropped jeans.


Wool Duster Coat + Silk Maxi Dress

Wool duster coats look amazing with sexy little mini dresses, cool midis and all sort of trousers.

coat (US 2/UK 6) – more sizes here | dress (S) | similar shoes | similar bag

Wool duster coats will obviously look amazing with sexy little mini dresses, cool midis and all sort of trousers…but I was surprised by how well these coats work with maxi dresses too. Maxi dresses are notoriously tricky to style (other than flat sandals in the summer), so this was a fun surprise.

I was surprised by how well wool duster coats work with maxi dresses.
Maxi dresses are notoriously tricky to style (other than flat sandals in the summer), so pairing it with a wool duster coat was a fun surprise.

coat (US 2/UK 6) – more sizes here | dress (S) | similar shoes | similar bag


Wool Duster Coat + Cropped Jeans, Tee & Sneakers

I love what a wool duster coat does for 1 of my most basic outfits: jeans, tee, sneaks.

coat (US 2/UK 6) – more sizes here | 100% cotton cami (S) | jeans (27) | sneakers (on sale) | similar bag (or here)

I love what a wool duster coat does for one of my most basic, casual outfits: jeans, tee, sneaks. Add in a deliciously drapey wool duster coat, and the outfit is instantly elevated into something intentional and chic.

Once again, it’s the simplifying of proportions that gets me, though. While I struggle to find a winter coat that does actually look good with looser, cropped denim (hip-length jackets are often a disaster)…this wool duster looks great with cropped jeans. (And yup — works with full-length denim too.)

While I struggle to find a winter coat that looks good with looser denim...this wool duster looks great with cropped jeans.
Add in a deliciously drapey wool duster coat, & the outfit is instantly elevated into something intentional 
+ chic.
A wool duster coat works with full-length denim too.

coat (US 2/UK 6) – more sizes here | 100% cotton cami (S) | jeans (27) | sneakers (on sale) | similar bag (or here)


How To Find A Good Wool Duster/Maxi Coat

Midi coats are great, but in order to get those foolproof proportions, I'd opt for a duster or maxi coat that clearly hits below the knee.

coat (US 2/UK 6) — also in blush, blue

Again, we’re looking for duster or maxi coats to hit at midcalf or lower, while anything that’s closer to knee length is typically called a midi coat. Midi coats are also great, but in order to get those foolproof proportions, I’d opt for a coat that clearly hits below the knee. Obviously, your height will matter when choosing a maxi coat.

The coat I’m wearing is Reiss’ longline coat, picked up during Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale, and it’s turned out to be a really lucky buy. Initially, I was worried about the fact that it’s unlined, but the wool is soft — even against my bare skin — and has delicious drape.

Initially, I was worried about the fact that Reiss' longline coat unlined, but the wool is soft — even against my bare skin — & has delicious drape.

coat (US 2/UK 6) – more sizes here | similar bag

Furthermore, after trying on a ton of lined wool maxi coats, I appreciate that this one is so lightweight. Saks is also carrying this exact Reiss coat (or almost exact) in both a pale blush and this stunning blue, as is Bloomingdales (in all three colors).

Here’s a quick shopping guide to my favorite wool duster coats on the market right now:

Stay warm out there! Are you loving long coats too?

xo,
S

photo credit: Peaberry Photography

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