EEvery year, like clockwork, my tolerance for wearing a coat runs out a few weeks before the end of winter. The heavy bump on my back that felt so comfortable and reassuring six months ago is starting to piss me off. Coats start to annoy me even when I’m not wearing one. Going from my hallway to the kitchen makes me feel like Lucy is pushing her way to Narnia, only with less fur and more North Face nylon.
And there’s something so joyful about the first day you leave home without a proper coat. It puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step – but not if you’re shaking by the time you get to work. So, it’s time to address the crucial issue of spring layers.
The spring layering hero for 2022 is – drum roll, please – the scarf. The right kind of knit, rather than the cutesy silk kind, is a fashion accessory as well as a practical accessory for the first time in ages. He’s the star of a cult Instagram account called Parisians in Paris, who posts photos taken in the subway, at the bakery, while crossing the street. Les Parisiens in Paris is real street style, like before it was cannibalized by overdressed influencers shivering on the Pont des Arts in borrowed dresses they’re paid to post. It’s a really useful fashion resource because it shows actual humans, with bags and strollers, looking fancy, so we can learn.
Also, although the weather in Paris gets much better PR than the weather in London, the climate is essentially the same, so these folks wear layers, umbrellas, and scarves. Lots of scarves. In one photo, a woman is wearing a plaid coat and beige beanie, with a thick charcoal scarf around her neck and a vintage-looking suede satchel. Another is sitting outside a café with a leather jacket and a fringed scarf, a glass of wine and a novel.
If the Hermès scarf is chic Ladies Who Lunch, the cozy woolen scarf is chic Pavement Cafe. And Pavement Cafe chic is about as objective as it gets, both for the French Girl looks and the reading a book with a glass of wine part. A scarf has always been a staple of actual city chic. During the Sex and the City era, Carrie sometimes wore a tartan scarf, tied like this and pinned in place with a cameo brooch. Tying a scarf with a brooch is a practical red flag for me, but I have to admit, it looked pretty amazing. In And Just Like That, Carrie had a rainbow knit Gabriela Hearst throw that she wore as a scarf and even took to the hospital as a blanket.
The coat I’ve seen the most on viewers in recent fashion weeks was by totem, and is really a knitted jacket with an attached scarf. It’s gorgeous but pricey and also, at the time of writing, out of stock – but it proves that a sturdy knit outer layer combined with a scarf is a practical and chic spring layering. Think of it as a naked-wave twinset. Two knitted pieces that don’t have to match but work together. It can be a cable knit sweater and a long contrasting fringed scarf, or a crew neck sweater with a mismatched oversized cardigan. Or maybe all three together.
I know what you’re thinking, because I think so too. What if it rains? Then you’ll regret running away from home without a coat, you clumsy cow. The solution is a) an adult baseball cap or b) a hoodie with a generous hood. Either, with a blazer, will see you in the shower. You can forget your coat, if you remember to check your weather app. And wear a scarf, of course.