Winning ways to keep warm

The chic outercovering is likely to be all-eveloping and -- at its softest, warmest, lightest best -- to be made of mohair. Some influential voice somewhere in the international fashion world seems to have whispered "mohair" this year, after which the echoes resounded from Milan to Paris to London to New York.

The roomy, sweeping tent holds sway as a leading coat shape. It comes in unlined mohair or reversible double-faced wool, in solids or plaids. Many such coats have officer's collars and separate or attached stoles to toss over the shoulder for a dashing effect.

The unlined coat is popular with high fashion designers for two reasons. It is practically weightless (in mohair especially). This is a desirable factor, for what is as tiring in cold weather as a heavy coat? Then, too, dispensing with a lining saves money on production costs (which may or may not be passed on to the consumer). All the same, the no-lining concept has had slow acceptance from most customers and, for the majority, its time is yet to come.

The unlined cape is another matter. It has made a major comeback this year, along with the poncho and the shawl. Women who bought them the last time around and have held on to them are therefore ahead of the fashion game.

Caped coats, although not available in average and lower-priced lines, are the most prophetic new styles. These are apt to carry over nicely into future seasons (a point to keep in mind when observing the price tag). Both Perry Ellis and Ralph LAuren have dramatic triple-tiered capes, long affairs with capelets or elbow-length capes over the cape itself.

Chesterfields and shearlings, with or without such Austro-Hungarian touches as frog closing and scrolled embroidery, are voguish, velvet and braid trimmings being all the rage. Down puff coats -- nylon or poplin "walking sleeping bags" that were so popular last year -- have been updated in new colors.

Knitted coats of many colors come in Missoni-like plaids and Peruvian patterns. The "most" in jackets is Calvin Klein's big-shouldered bomber style. Rather masculine in looks, it isn't so different from his bomber jacket for men, which happens to cost a good deal less. Having noted this fact, certain clever New Yorkers have already bought the style in its masculine form.

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