Coat As a Shelter

Vogue UK August 1984 Loose herringbone coat by Paul Costelloe Photo Eric Boman

Words by Eleni Kostopoulos
Edited by Alice Hannah Betts

Coated women exude eclectic confidence as they unapologetically wrap themselves into their primal warm cocoons of shelter while running clean and fast against unwelcoming temperatures and stereotypical objectifications alike. There is an apparent quiet yet liberating sense of irony achieved in the presentation of oversized female silhouettes, how they stand aloof with a cinematic flair. Unconstrained and independent, a woman enveloped in her long coat epitomises the individual energy which survives despite the icy climate she is situated in.
The question is how does a concealing piece of garment manage to articulate power?

It is not to say that the coat in itself disguises sensitivity and mutes any vulnerable essence within the feminine psyche. It is a fact though that the choice of the attire is based on how women visualise themselves in the particular course of a day. That is what makes the coat as impactful as any woman’s sense of authenticity. Therefore it goes without saying that empowerment and legitimacy fuel the female identity and no other piece of garment can capture that very essence perhaps more eloquently or completely than the winter coat. 
The universality of our need to feel sheltered by weather conditions might be easily politicised or perceived as a metaphor for a spiritual longing for an absolute refuge. As a reaction to the moral conformity with the beautifying female image, the coat serves as a form of utilitarian gear exuding the luxury of “throw-on cool”. There is ever the idea of wearability which ignites self fulfilment and assertiveness more so within the chaos of urban life where the woman counters her traditional roles with the triumphant image of non-provocative dressing. Thus, she strides front in her winter armour revealing generously the protagonist of her cover-up.