This fall, structured jackets are kicking Michelle Obama's cardigans to the curb.
After several seasons of sweet and ladylike, fashion has found its edge. The jacket -- be it long, loose and boyfriend-style by Stella McCartney, shrunken into a schoolboy silhouette at J.Crew, sequin-dusted at Zara, cropped and rendered in crisp white from 3.1 Phillip Lim or studded and shoulder-padded at Balmain -- is the key to fall's strong mood.
And for good reason. No other piece of clothing, except perhaps a pair of heels, is as transformative. A jacket is an instant confidence-builder in uncertain times. It's a kind of body armor that makes you sit straight and walk tall, and it covers a multitude of imperfections.
This season, the jacket is at the center of the 1980s trend, the motorcycle trend, the aviator trend and the return-to-professional-dressing trend. A jacket need not be expensive to command respect. But there is nothing like a jacket to make you appreciate good design -- the elegant drape of a shawl collar, the gentle embrace of a shaped waist, the perfect peak of a shoulder.