This season, I’m ditching the heavy layers of fleece and sporting cropped jackets instead. My first stop: Kenneth Cole. The salesman recommended the Stand Up charcoal sweater jacket (named for its rigid collar). It looked completely shapeless on the hanger, but once on, it had a very roomy and slightly less sloppy fit. The black stretch silk lining added some much-needed glam but not enough for me to shell out $248. 597 Broadway, at Houston St.; 212-965-0283.
Ducking into Anna Sui to avoid the rain, I was instantly overwhelmed by the purple walls and wild prints. The jacket I found was as flashy as the rest of the store: a double-breasted cropped peacoat in zigzag black and cream with oversize cuffs and a big collar. It was too over-the-top for everyday dressing—though I do recall my middle-school art teacher regularly wore something similar. A $468 price tag is too much for acrylic, wool, and polyester, but I’d definitely buy it once it goes on sale. 113 Greene St., at Prince St.; 212-941-8406.
Next stop, the mecca of coats: Burberry. The signature plaid reminds me of Canal Street knockoffs, but I have to admit I still covet the classic trench. Though the store had plenty of cropped jackets to pick from, there was just one that caught my eye: a khaki-and-light-gray number with sparkling gold thread ($850). The trapeze-shape jacket was surprisingly flattering for such a loose fit. It was an instant hit as I carried it around the store—three women asked about it en route to the dressing room. I’ve already started planning my New Year’s outfit, starring, of course, this jacket. 131 Spring St., at Greene St.; 212-925-9300.
Keeping my Soho shopping jag going, I popped into Big Drop. With the salesgirls circling like sharks, I quickly found a jacket to try on: LaROK’s black Melton Spy, $348. The brass buttons and epaulets were straight out of basic training. But after an awkward public self-examination in the store’s mirrors—the dressing rooms strangely have none—I felt like I was wearing a costume. The pockets in front looked like a tuxedo, and the back looked like a trench—too many styles for just one garment. 174 Spring St., at Thompson St.; 212-966-4299.
Heading uptown (and braving the Rockefeller tourists), I ventured into Banana Republic, which was blaring a painful holiday soundtrack. My head starting to ache, but I managed to find one of my favorite jackets of the day: dark charcoal-gray wool, for $168. It was adorned with just three buttons and a waist-cinching belt, but the simplicity made the jacket more versatile; I can easily wear this straight from work to my favorite bar, Great Lakes. And priced under $200, it’s a guilt-free present for myself. 626 Fifth Ave., at 50th St.; 212-974-2350.
I wandered into the Japanese department store Takashimaya next. Heading to “The Now Shop” on the first floor, I came face to face with the ghost of shopping past: a black jacket by Mint ($348), exactly like one I tried to find in London months earlier. Short-sleeved with hidden asymmetrical snap closures and an oversize collar, the jacket was completely adorable. And even though the lining was polyester (and probably flammable), it still felt soft and comfortable. 693 Fifth Ave., at 54th St.; 212-350-0100.
Compared to its neighboring stores, Mexx was a shopping ghost town—normally a bonus, but the loud Christmas carols almost drove me crazy. Hoping to get in and get out fast, I snagged a cute shrunken black blazer, but I could barely pull both of my arms through. I found a larger size, and the fit was almost perfect. The cuffs on the sleeves were pretty, but the polyester fabric and shoulder pads were too low quality, even for just $119. 650 Fifth Ave., at 52nd St.; 212-956-6505.
Dolce & Gabbana
After a long, exhausting day, I finished my quest at Saks Fifth Avenue, where I was hoping I wouldn’t have to lift a finger. Sure enough, while browsing the Dolce & Gabbana racks, a salesman began pulling jackets for me. The winner of the stack was a black one with tails. The fit was spectacular and the wool-cashmere-angora blend ($2,495) made it incredibly soft, but the tuxedo tails that originally caught my eye made the jacket look too masculine for my frame. 611 Fifth Ave., at 50th St.; 212-753-4000.