Style Stories

An easy way to look like you tried without actually trying

Looking effortless, they say, takes a lot of effort. What about looking like you put in the effort without actually doing that?
by Leandra Medine Cohen
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Everyone is always talking about how to look effortless but often a lot of effort gets goes into getting that look. My personal preference is for the input to match the output. So like, if I tried, I don’t mind looking I did. If I didn’t, I like when that shows too. The only exception is when the input is less than the output — when I can strike that cord, I’m very satisfied.

There are few garments that can make you feel styled/put together/like you are cool. One among them which I return to every liminal season (fall, spring, with a special emphasis on the spring) is ~the suede fringe jacket.~

It is a very specific garment yet somehow nestles itself intuitively and comfortably into dozens of outfit forms. But it is best, in my view, with the most basic everyday look you can jog:

A fringe jacket by Khaite from 2019 (here it is for sale on eBay). The closest alternative to it from the realm of luxury is this beautiful studded guy from Bode. it’s styled with a tank top from Skall Studios (cotton beige is the most unlikely wardrobe hero I have discovered this season) and Re/done jeans, which give me a bit of a fupa. The sandals, which look (and feel!) like pilates socks are Jamie Haller. Perfect companions for an outfit with any personality whatsoever.

To prove my former point, here is something louder/more feminine than torn jeans:

A Jigsaw jacket and grey t-shirt, Saks Potts skirt, Aeyde kitten heels

I think the suede jacket is the ideal alternative to a motorcycle/leather jacket if that vibe’s not for you — it boasts a different kind of softness that is still kind of masculine in its conceit, adding a rough edge to otherwise delicate or feminine clothes, but doing it with a little more nuance.

Abie took this picture

It’s just not as abrupt as a moto jacket. I credit the suede and lack of hardware for that. It also adds personality and dynamism to basic necklines (see: tank tops, t-shirts).

The button fly on these jeans kind of pops out, so if you prefer a zipper fly, these from Moussy are good too (but a little shorter in length)

The fringe seems like an essential part of what makes the jacket good because without it you’ve either just got a suede-collared guy or a creative blazer.

The key thing I stay away from is pairing it with too much “fashion” — that is, conspicuous items that are apparent offspring of a brand.

Never forget spring 2019 and the chronicles of Prada. (The sandals are Louboutin)

Although tbh, not ALL capital-F-fashion is too much.

Now that I’m looking at these pics, I think the key is actually about how personal you can make the rest of the look look. Also, something about the shape of this jacket is less conspicuous than the Khaite one. (Area dress, Camilla Elphick flats)

And neither are all jackets. I think the one above reads more subtle because the hemline isn’t fringed/the fringe doesn’t cover front-of-sleeve too.

But I maintain — your best bet for styling is with jeans and a t-shirt. It’s the most common no-brainer, feel-good look on its own, and then with the jacket?

PIZZAZZ! Styled with Frame jeans, a striped shirt from Matteau and Manolo Blahnik sandals (they’re called the “Susa” — found mine unused on The Real Real for $200, a good style to keep an eye on)

Shoes are another, but very simple story: Wear heels or flats. Both are fair game (the fringe is a good fanfare contrast for simple shoes like flip flops or ballet flats or whatever and the jacket is a good casual contrast to fancy shoes (see: satin) because the suede is a good counter material.

But I’m digressing. The purpose of this post is to break down what makes a fringe jacket good, with an edit presenting some of the best picks I could find. So, what makes one good?

Here are the key 5 factors to consider:

Seasonality/when to wear it. You’ll want a jacket that will carry you through the fall and the spring. It’s too limiting to pick one that only applies in a single season. So it should be lightweight enough to wear through the spring but warm enough to carry you through the Fall. (If it’s light enough you might also be able to wear it as a shirt in the winter.)

1. Shape (shoulders, length, sleeves)

Shoulders: Defined, but soft, which is kind of the thing that happens to a suede jacket no matter what. The Khaite one I wear has pretty intense shoulder pads, which works for it when I wear it as a top, but when used as a jacket, the options for styling are a bit more limited because of the severity of the height. Doesn’t stop me, it’s still a dreamy jacket.

Length: If your hem is fringed, you’re going to be more focused on where the solid suede ends on your person, which should be right under your big. Like on the bottom of your buttcheek. This is true when there’s no fringe on the hem either.

Sleeves: Pretty flexible — if you’re going to have to roll the sleeves over to expose a bit of wrist bone, you want the width to be wide enough that it’s not suffocating/too complicated with the fringe that runs down the back of the sleeve. I’d stay away from something too narrow, or cropped to look shrunken as these tend to look too contrived for a jacket that is supposed to appear more organic.

Vintage 1960's Suede Fringe Jacket
$150 USD

Here's a great option from Etsy.

2. Material

You can try a classic leather because fringe is fringe and there are definitely instances when it works 👇🏻

This jacket’s from California-based My Dear Tejas; the picture’s from last year

This one’s from the story “Just get dressed up

But I personally think suede makes the overall piece more versatile, in particular because it does a better job of making fancy clothes look more casual while the texture adds an element of depth. Then the fringe does its own job of adding movement and dynamism to otherwise simple silhouettes.

A suede fringe jacket just really does the work for you.

3. Placement of fringe

This one’s a little nitpicky, but I like to be able to scrunch my sleeves up (mostly to expose jewelry/show my wrist bones — it adds an element of femininity) and when the fringe is too long or travels too far to the front of the jacket, it looks too messy.

You’ll notice 👆🏻here👆🏻 for example the fringe comes forward, which looks great when the sleeves are down and actually adds more character to the overall shape but aggro when I scrunch 👇🏻.

So if you’re going full fringe, don’t scrunch. If you must scrunch, consider alt. option. The one other thing I’d say before we move on to color: size and length of fringe matters. You don’t want the fringe to exceed like, 3-6 inches long, and you want the width to stay narrow enough that movement is swift. This is an example of a fringe I’d call too thick. This is too long.

4. Color

Sand, cappuccino, dark brown are the best foils to denim and they are neutral enough to pair with color. (I prefer a sandier shade to a more caramel shade if you wear a lot of white:)

Everything I’m wearing in this pic is from the brand Jigsaw with the exception of the white jeans, which are Re/done (longer, but close; these are a good alt too)

But I do love a denim-ish shade of blue too. Works with jeans (though not as well), is great with the complete range of shades of khaki, brown, grey (to black) and if you wear a lot of red, great with that too.

Here’s Laura Vidrequin in a blue Bode jacket; the same shape is for sale on Mr. Porter but it’s caramel colored and studded

Laura Vidrequin (pictured above, these photos are from her Instagram) is actually an ideal example of someone who knows exactly how to wield a fringe jacket to the best of its potential, carrying the weight of the look and releasing pressure from your closet. This is a perfect segue into the final factor:

5. How to wear it

You make the jacket work for you and you don’t have to try hard to do that: pair it with your easiest clothes. Jeans, t-shirts, tank tops, sweaters/sweatshirts.

This one’s vintage — she got it on Portobello Rd

If your style is more feminine, it’s also a great foil to soft dresses and skirts. Or go full Jane (Birkin) with a dress like this one.

Laura says Khaite, Bode, Isabel Marant make the best fringe jackets and recently, she’s been sourcing and making vintage ones in Morocco. She’ll find the fabric (likes it light and soft) and then direct the tailor/seamstress from there.

The fringe hem certainly adds a good dose of character and the more plentiful the fringe, it seems the better. You’ll notice the hem on the ones above are so rich it’s almost like the suede goes straight across. I’d just caution (or offer relief depending on your preference) that if you’re going the route of a fringe hem, your best bet is to pair it with the most basic clothes you have. Sweatpants are not off-limits! Knee cap leggings might be.

Now here are the best ones I have found on the internet as of Monday, 4/17 at 11:14 a.m.:

The best of a straight hem

Women's Fringe Leather Jacket
$125 USD
Real Suede Oversized Fringe Jacket
$190 USD

On sale!

Nili Lotan
Coline Fringed Oversized Suede Jacket
$2,395 USD
Suede Leather Jacket With Fringing
$895 USD

The best of a fringe hem

Vintage Black Suede Leather Fringe Jacket
$86 USD
Vintage 1960's Suede Fringe Jacket
$150 USD

This one is my personal favorite.

And here are three plan b’s (!) in case those go quickly.

Personality jackets!!!

Vintage Fringe Red Suede Leather Jacket
$106 USD

Studded red suede party rocker in the house tonight

1970s Fringe Jacket Retro Suede Fringe Jacket
$175 USD

1970’s two tone fringe jacket boasting a great compromise between fringe hem and no fringe

Franck Namani
Vintage 1990's Evening Jacket
$210 USD

20% off using code REAL

Embellished Fringed Brushed-Suede Jacket
$2,545 USD

I feel confident saying that because suede jackets are never actually in, they can’t really go “out” either. They’re more like leopard print in that they float through the ether and catch sparks of fancy at random, but functional times. And the best part is that they get better with age. Wear your heart out of it, baby. (But not literally.)

That concludes this edish, I’m signing off yours,