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FASHION : Cooling Trends : Classic coats do sweaters one better. And it will be cold soon--really.


Forget your coat? That's not likely to happen this winter. Classic coat shapes--short or long, full or fitted, belted or loose--in unusual materials will make the season a memorable one for outerwear.

There are sweeping A-line swing coats that move with the body, 1940s-inspired coats that fit at the waist and flare to the ankles, little car coats that tie, and long, three-button coats of cushy wool and cashmere blends. Shearling, fake fur, leather and other animal skins bring out the beast in men and women.

Designers from Calvin Klein to Dolce & Gabbana use shearling on collars, cuffs or the entire garment. Calvin Klein indulged heavily, covering a long coat entirely in dark brown woolly stuff.

"Shearling has been selling well, even in Southern California, because it's lightweight," says Don Witkowski, a vice president for Barneys New York. "It's uncanny the way it's taken off."

For those who feel sheepish in shearling, Barneys also has coats in leather, suede and soft weaves reminiscent of wool blankets. "They're fun with jeans and sweaters or over a sport coat," Witkowski says.

Dolce & Gabbana's short, loose coat in a heavy charcoal ribbed knit feels as comfortable as an old sweater but has a lot more style. Other relaxed styles are Barneys' loose-fitting jacket of wool plaid in earthy shades of ecru and gray and a soft, three-button coat in buttery black suede. All are available at Barneys New York in Beverly Hills.

Among Emporio Armani's fashion-forward coats are wool-cashmere swing coats, faux-fur car coats, and long princess coats with banded collars and fitted bodices that flare at the hemline.

"What makes them unique is we take classic styles and make them in non-traditional fabrics," says Courtney Chamine, spokeswoman for Emporio Armani in New York City.

Shearling, for example, appears on everything from bomber jackets to long overcoats at the Emporio Armani boutique in Beverly Hills. A collarless men's overcoat is covered in tan shearling.

Other classic styles get a wilder look from fake fur. A women's car coat can be had in plush fake chinchilla.

Says Chamine: "It can be worn with a great wool sweater and velvet skirt. It's meant to be playful."

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