Purely Paris: Autumn’s Little Black Jacket
Paris fashion has a serious love affair with the little black jacket. Here, it is regarded as much more than just another accessory. The jacket is always one of autumn’s wardrobe staples. Long after comfort-conscious Americans grab their winter gear (and Londoners their trench coats), local ladies are still happy to pair a tailored jacket with their jeans and scarves. They may move from pumps to boots, from smart shirts to woolly sweaters. But, until it really freezes, that scarf and jacket provide their major heating aids.
Of course, the jacket isn’t necessarily black. But every woman has a great black jacket in her closet. Finding vintage shapes or that special weight is an autumn sport—and Paris fashion reverence is reserved for two classic styles. One is le style anglais (English style), a favorite since the era of the French Revolution. The French love English tailoring for its clean, elegant lines and they relish traditional styles such as the hacking jacket, the redingote and the Crombie coat. Their Parisian parallel is Coco Chanel’s trademark jacket, a perennial hit with Londoners in knockoff high street versions. In every case, what matters most is cut and detail: French style-chasers love a boxy tweed or a nipped-in waist, notched lapels and piped pockets, a special lining or a set of kissing-button cuffs.
Leave it to Karl Lagerfeld took to move this Chanel classic to center stage. With the assistance of super-stylist Carine Roitfeld, he has spent a year exploring the little black jacket’s myth in photos that feature models, actresses, musicians, personalities and friends. (Look for the likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg, Tilda Swinton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Yoko Ono and Olivier Theyskens.) First shown in the Far East, then in Manhattan, his updated photos will be exhibited from November 10 to 25 at the Grand Palais. If you’re not in Paris, the book makes the perfect Christmas present, a fashion staple presented in fun, surprising ways.
For those who didn’t make the shows, his coffee-table version offers a delicious selection. At once elegant and irreverent, this is a bible from two fashion pros. It features more than 100 of Kaiser Karl’s best shots, which capture every way you can possibly wear a black jacket. Even flipping through will send you on a quest for that perfect autumn fit. If you plan on looking in Paris, here are a few suggestions. This year, there are lots of classic styles that won’t break the bank.
1. Best Buy: Comptoir des Cotonniers
The perfect basic jacket with fitted waist, slim lapels, long sleeves to roll up or bunch back, two flap pockets and great lines. At 195 euros , the price is even better.
A two-button version of the Paris fashion classic in Italian felted wool. Made with classic flap pockets and midriff darts for shape. Price: 310 euros.
3. The Kooples
A slim and stylish “smoking” version in light wool with cotton, sporting a single button and thin black grosgrain lapels. Perfect for evening wear. Price: 355 euros.
The Changer Tranquillement jacket: This new fall favorite is a funky, three-pocket model with notched lapels and a handkerchief pocket. It boasts a fitted back and long sleeves you can roll or bunch. Price: 295 euros.
5. Agnès B.
Ella jacket: A boyish yet fitted and curvy three-button version that buttons fairly high. It features notched lapels and breast (handkerchief) pocket, three-button sleeves and a red tartan lining. This is one classic that’s both snappy and snug. Price: 445 euros.
See Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld’s “La Petite Veste Noire” (The Little Black Jacket) from November 10 to 25 at le Grand Palais.
What makes the perfect match for your new little black jacket? The perfect red lipstick! Fall favorites here are Lancôme l’Absolu Rouge, any shade; Dior Blazing Red; Chanel Rouge Allure Lover; and MAC Russian Red.
The little black jacket
La petite veste noire (The Little Black Jacket) (book)
Comptoir des Cotonniers
Editor’s note: Be treated like a VIP at Galeries Lafayette, where you’ll get a personal shopper, access to the new VIP lounges and 10 percent off your purchases if you join the Girls’ Guide Travel Club.