With the ever-schizophrenic Michigan weather foreshadowing the
arrival of yet another Midwestern winter, the need for outerwear
that can handle such brutality is mounting. Thankfully, this season
provides some of the most unexpected combinations of colors, sizes
and styles in coats and jackets.
Ann Arbor’s not-so-student-friendly boutiques however,
only offer fashions geared toward the older residents of the
Even with the newest addition to the Briarwood Mall, Von Maur,
the city offers few options for high-quality, reasonably-priced
student apparel. Even the stores that vend clothing for younger
generations, such as J.Crew and Abercrombie and Fitch, offer many
more styles and options in their catalogs and Internet websites
than in the city’s vending locales.
Critical shoppers may find it difficult to match their
preferences with the choices available in Ann Arbor. Thus, one of
the best resources is online shopping, where one can find designs
from across the globe that will guarantee a unique coat.
Unfortunately, since sizes vary often between designers, the
probability of ending up with the wrong fit is higher with online
Regardless, online stores provide designs from a variety of
designers at more reasonable prices. Websites such as
“http://www.bluefly.com”>www.bluefly.com always manage to have
sales of at least 40-percent of relatively recent pieces from
designer labels like Michael Kors and Andrew Marc.
Google is invaluable in online window-shopping adventures that
seek to fine tune individual style.
Notable fashion magazines are also useful since their websites
offer complete runway shows of reputable designers. These websites
are laden with cool features such as information about each outfit,
including (but not limited to) fabric type, available silhouettes
and the best style for each shape.
Editors’ picks find notable key articles that will be big
hits for the season. These styles often become staples in national
chains such as Express or The Limited.
These picks provide invaluable tips in avoiding clothing that do
not flatter a particular body shape. Structured shoulders, for
example, are especially tricky since they are ideal for busty women
in need of a strong profile while at the same time, they weigh down
the already small figures of petite women. Similarly, leather
outfits should all be tailored for the individual’s shape,
since a bad fit ruins the inherent sleekness of a leather
Websites with retail stores in local malls allow guilt-free
purchasing, since the items can be returned if the petite size is
still three inches too long or if the heather grey was darker than
you had expected.
Most youth-oriented stores offer online catalogs that highlight
different sizes, accessories to match the coat and even extra
touches such as Thinsulate, which adds an inconspicuous, yet
durable, layer of protection against the harsh winters, a good
investment for those living in Ann Arbor.
While the street and vintage trends are copied in stores across
the Midwest, their mass production loses all flavor of uniqueness,
essential for those particular styles. Express clothing is some of
the most popular among students, making the store the worst place
to buy a retro or out-of-ordinary type coat, since you will only be
able to wear it for a week before you run into someone else who has
More classic styles, such as the peacoat, are also somewhat drab
as retailers fail to provide much of a variety in length, tailoring
and colors. While these staples never completely go out of style,
they are not the most exciting on the block.
Along with the North Face and Columbia apparel, Juicy
Couture’s popular puffy jackets with faux fur around the hood
also add to the list of routine — not only does it make the
owner look much like the Michelin man, but it also is one of the
most common and indistinctive looks on campus right now.
Since students spend much of their time in Michigan trudging
through the winter months, a winter coat is a necessity. However,
it should also represent personal style. Even if fashionistas claim
that chinchilla fur is the only material worth wearing this season,
common sense and discretion should guide you to ignore that
While Ann Arbor does not provide the most ideal shopping climate
for students, other ventures such as the Internet can open doors to
clothing options. This particular selection should be made with
utmost care — after all, students’ runways consist of
whizzing around campus in the midst of a mid-winter flurry,
protected only by a resilient, yet fashionable, winter coat. It may
not be the catwalk, but strutting across the Diag offers students a
chance to show off their new duds.