I love a trendy jacket as much as the next gal, but when it comes to building a fall capsule wardrobe, the smarter approach is to invest in a handful of classic pieces that will last for multiple seasons. For autumn that has most often meant a trench coat or wool blazer (or even a cozy shacket), but I’m here to report that there’s a new classic style slowly but surely taking over for 2023. Mark my words, the barn coat will soon be everyone’s new favorite outerwear trend for the foreseeable future.
If You Buy 1 New Coat This Fall, Make It *This* Trending Style You Can Wear with Almost Anything
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What Is a Barn Coat?
As you may have guessed based on the name, the barn coat was originally designed for farmers who needed something warm and durable that they could easily move in while working during the colder months of the year. They feature a boxy cut with lots of pockets, a corduroy collar and, usually, a water-resistant or waterproof finish to protect from inclement weather. They can look classically rugged (a la Barbour’s signature wax-coated jackets) or zhuzhed up for more of a posh vibe (like this plaid J.Crew number). And while there are tons of brands currently stocking their fall collections with barn coats aplenty, I’ve also seen an uptick in folks searching for secondhand versions, like old-school L.L.Bean or Lands’ End barn coats, for a vintage look.
How Is It Different from a Chore or Field Coat?
All of these workwear-inspired coats have similar features—dotted with multiple large pockets, made from durable materials, boxy cut, etc.—and all are chic options for fall, but barn coats do have a handful of specific traits to help them stand out. The most obvious is a contrasting corduroy collar. This could be flipped up for extra warmth while working the in the field, but for city living simply adds a chic extra touch to your ‘fit. The second thing that can ID a barn coat is the fabric. Chore and field coats tend to be much lighter and less structured, and usually lack a waterproof or water-resistant finish. This makes the barn coat a fabulous layering piece to wear all through winter, worn over cozy sweaters or soft flannels.
Read on for four ways to style a barn coat this fall, plus one look you should retire in favor of more modern options.
1. Wear a Barn Coat with Other Top Fall Trends
Ballet flats and chain necklaces and quiet luxury, oh my! To ensure your vintage barn coat looks fresh for 2023, try pairing it with other hot trends, like a chic, quiet luxury-inspired button-up shirt tucked into loose jeans. Accessorize with ballet flats or Mary Janes in place of Chelsea or riding boots, and be sure to finish the look with some gold statement jewelry.
2. Try a Posh Miniskirt
Balance the rugged vibes of a barn coat with a sleek miniskirt and preppy flats. The combination reads much more “British prep” and less farmhand, especially if you add some chunky loafers and a cozy cableknit sweater. Just be sure to not veer too far in the opposite direction of your jacket—a sequin or raw-hem denim mini will look too out of place paired with such a utilitarian coat.
3. Embrace the Sandwich Dressing Formula
No, we’re not talking about mayonnaise. “Sandwich dressing” is a term we learned from stylist Lydia Tomlinson and refers to balancing one piece on your bottom half with another on your top half and including something contrary in the middle, like a sandwich. In this case, it’s the green socks that harken back to the green jacket and help make an otherwise all-black outfit feel fresh and interesting.
4. Don’t Shy Away from Bold Colors or Patterns
To really allow your barn coat to steal the spotlight, opt for one in a brighter hue or pattern and keep the rest of your look as simple as can be. A colorblock design in contrasting neutrals will still feel pretty timeless, as will muted reds or purples, whereas funky florals, vibrant shades and animal prints are less likely to stand the test of time. That said, you know your wardrobe best, so feel free to have some fun picking a barn coat that’s outside the box.
5. Avoid: Skinny Jeans and Riding Boots
Truth is there isn’t anything truly bad about this preppy combination—it’s just that the whole thing feels a bit too on the nose and very 2012. Try swapping in a denim midi skirt or a chunky loafer (or even some foldover boots) instead to refresh your old favorites.
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