navy M65 in action
I wrote a good bit about coats last time, so you know I have a weak spot for outerwear. We release new product at the beginning of every month, and while there are a lot of things in the November batch that I love… my absolute favorite thing is the new M65 jacket. Sid first came out with one last fall, and I remember feeling almost betrayed when I saw it hit the floor… I kind of pouted to the design team; why hadn't we made a matching one for the women's line?? Anyway, now we have.
The history behind the original M65 is a little rocky – it was introduced as the standard-issue field jacket for the military in 1965, and became especially useful to troops in South Vietnam, where it would often be damp and chilly after a monsoon. Oddly enough the style became popular with young people back here in the States as almost a war protest symbol… I remember seeing them on some of my older brothers' cool friends in junior high, along with the silver POW bracelets that we all wore through the early 70s. They are some of so many trinkets I have saved: mood rings, charm bracelets with only a single charm attached… (My mother was famous for sentiment but not so good at the follow-through.) (Although… speaking of follow-through… now that I think about it… I never did check in on whichever POW it was whose bracelet I was wearing. The whole point was that you vowed to wear it until the soldier - or sadly, his remains - returned home. I was probably too busy making crank phone calls to boys at sleepovers to check in with the POW help desk :( And I wish my mother was here to hear me say that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree…!) Anyway, by the time Woody Allen's character was wearing it in Annie Hall, the symbolism had mellowed out a little.
Another one of my favorite coats in that closet is a classic Belstaff motorcycle jacket, belted at the waist. I feel cool the minute I slip it on. The authenticity is what makes it… waxed cotton made for rain and wind hitting you on the road. But it is heavy, so you need to commit to it! It isn't the easiest thing to move in, either. Perhaps steering the handlebars of a motorcycle doesn't need such a wide range of motion? I wouldn't really know… my biker experience is limited to a few rides on the back of a moped. Our M65 gives me the same COOL feeling as that one, but sleeker and lighter and a lot more comfortable. And it is a little smoother than the "real McCoy" M65, with no epaulets and no hood and a lighter, technical-feeling fabric with a t-shirt-y cotton bonded underside. Popped over a turtleneck sweater it will take you down to 40ish degrees… over a t-shirt you can wear it well into the low 70s. It's more minimal. In navy it feels more like that Belstaff moto jacket… the taupe makes it feel more "international reporter". But at the end of the day, like I said, the thing that really draws me to jackets like this is that they just scream COOL.
There are a few more pieces (that some might consider unexciting) that fall into this category for me. If you want to see what my own North Star of "cool" looks like, Google Emmanuelle Alt. Editor in chief of French Vogue for nearly a decade. Her signature look is either black or white jeans, black moto jacket or blazer, white or black button-down shirt or a white t-shirt, and depending on the season, black boots or kitten heels. That is kind of it. She knows her style and sticks to it and she is just cool, cool, cool. I have too many dress-up fantasies to stick to a wardrobe as pared-down as hers, but I SO admire the discipline and simplicity. If you have been reading this for awhile, you have been down memory lane with me (or rabbit holes?) when I look at my closet and imagine how I want to wear something. Cowboy… princess… I was recently on Laura Vinroot Poole's amazing podcast, What We Wore. Laura is the owner of the incredible store Capitol in Charlotte (and neighbor with our Sid store at the Brentwood Country Mart!) and she asks every guest on the podcast what they wore to the prom – which is genius – and I got to reminisce about my own Zeffirelli's-Juliet-inspired and home-sewn getup.
So while I have too many influences in my head to want to dress like Emmanuelle EVERY day, I still want to look like her OFTEN. The subject of "cool French girls" has been exhausted by now, but it was a big reference point for me when I was a new, working mother in the early 90s. The weekly French Elles that would arrive on my desk at Glamour were invaluable… but also pretty simple in terms of inspiration and instruction. I had a couple of oversized men's shirts and blue jeans and black boots that I rotated between. My closet filled out a little more over the years, but I always come back to this look. In fact I am wearing the navy M65 over a blue oxford shirt, with white jeans and black cowboy boots as I type. (For the record, I am big on black and navy together although I know it is controversial.) I am already thinking of wearing this jacket and the boots again tomorrow with a black cashmere turtleneck and black jeans.
But here are the other pieces that join the M65 in making me feel COOL. They are the must-haves – for me - but they often get overlooked among all the newer, brighter, more seasonal pieces. I love a little novelty, but trust me, you need cool basics as well. My own top 5:
Any combination of these, I promise, will make you look cool. You just need to channel the attitude of a French fashion editor. Add a couple of stripes to the mix – perhaps some kitten heels à la Emmanuelle - maybe a M65 jacket on top - and you're in business.