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Karina Chronicles

Dress On A Budget: Off-Season Buying Tips

HeadshotKarinaCrystal Hammon is a writer and vintage fashion enthusiast who lives two miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Her blog Dressed Her Days Vintage is the pink champagne every writer needs—a place to say whatever she wants, however she wants. She covers the evolution of fashion, etiquette and culture, and celebrates the upside of life after 50. Follow her and her fave Penelope Dress on @DHDVintage or on Facebook.


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I think I’ve found the secret on how to dress on a budget. Here it is: I don’t follow seasonal fashion trends. I buy summer things in winter, and winter things in summer. That simple change yields so much more than just bargains.

• It frees me to think more globally about fashion.
• Quality automatically becomes more affordable.
• I have a better eye for timeless things that stay in my wardrobe for years.

 What could be better than a dress on a budget under a trench coat?

That’s why I’m on the prowl for a vintage Burberry trench. It’s nearly summer, and I’m expecting to find one for a fraction of the cost. When I figure the cost per wear, it’ll be a bargain at any price. I can’t think of a garment that has more staying power than a classic trench.

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Greta Garbo wears one in the 1928 film A Woman of Affairs. Ditto for Marlene Dietrich in the 1948 film A Foreign Affair. In The Killers, Ava Gardner wears her trench with a wide brimmed hat. Audrey Hepburn pairs a trench with a headscarf in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

It’s hard to name a star of any consequence (or gender) that hasn’t rocked a trench coat, either on screen or in real life. Lauren Bacall wore one to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952. Decades after she appeared in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Hepburn was still wearing them, proving once again that you can never go wrong with a trench.

Where did the trench coat get its name? From the awful trenches of World War I.

Burberry is widely considered the inventor of the trench, but technically, the first manufacturer was Aquascutum. The company’s founder, John Emary (or Emery—depending on the source) collaborated with the British military to make his patented, waterproof fabric a protective garment for soldiers—mainly officers. In 1879, Burberry followed suit with a patented fabric—gabardine. Together the two companies satisfied the demand for these highly functional coats, which moved into civilian life in the early 1920s.

The features on a trench coat weren’t originally about style. The epaulette tabs held a pair of binoculars. The belt’s copper D ring was designed to carry map folders or sword sheathes. The wrist straps sealed the wearer from the weather.

You’ve probably never considered attaching your binoculars to an epaulette or carrying folders from a D ring, but it’s nice to know you could if you wanted to—and you’d look good doing it in a trench coat.

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In a way, a classic trench has a lot in common with a Karina Dress. Both deliver function, style and a lot of bang for the buck! When I visit New York City next week, I’m taking three Karina Dresses, including this polka-dot Penelope. I love Penelope’s functional pockets, and I know all my Karinas will take me through long days of sightseeing, ended by dinner and a Broadway show each evening! You can find your own Penelope Dress at our online store!


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