Spring has always been my least favorite season due to its changeable weather. In the fall, I relish trading my sandals for boots and tank tops for blazers. In winter, cold weather is at least expected. But the spring teases, like it did on Saturday, backsliding into chilly grays that make me want to hibernate for another month.

One silver lining is the opportunity to style the spring coat, one that must by default protect from the cooler elements while being not unbearable when the weather spikes up 10 degrees in the afternoon. For this type of topper, the classic trench coat is the epitome of chic. Here’s the version I’m coveting right now, and the colorful twist on how I’m styling it.

Confession – this J. Crew Icon Trench is my very first classic trench coat. To explain why I’ve held off so long on such a timeless purchase is also to extol its virtues:

A cotton exterior that is sturdy and waterproof. Too many coats these days are poly blends with a bit of a sheen, or made of flimsy fabric that doesn’t feel like it would hold up to a spritz of water from a spray-bottle let alone an hour in the rain. This coat is made from a tight Japanese cotton flat-weave that is terrifically water repellent, as we tested during the shoot.

Quality buttons and buckles. Does anyone else pay attention to these? Cheap, shiny plastic details are the easiest way to make an otherwise lovely article of clothing look (eek) tacky. While J. Crew has been cutting corners on some items, I was relieved that wasn’t the case with this trench, which has well-stitched faux-leather buckles and matte imitation-horn buttons.

Clean, simple lines. I’m petite, so clothing with too much going on looks overwhelming. However it’s terribly hard to find a trench coat without epaulettes, the ornamental flaps you find on the shoulders of jackets and coats. It’s equally hard to find one with a narrow lapel. In this classic trench coat, I managed to find both. Though, a disclaimer – this season’s version of the Icon does have epaulettes. I’m lucky I snagged one from last year before they sold out.

Coat | J. Crew Icon Trench

Shoes | M. Gemi The Lustro in natural – use for $50 off your order!

I wanted to style this neutral look with candy-colored accessories that would pop against the beige. This was inspired by Burberry Prorsum’s 2011 Spring Fashion Week, where khaki and tan jackets were matched with lime green and mint belts, and violet and orange handbags.

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The window display of the Emporium Bangkok Burberry that year is seared into my memory. This spring, I’ll be wearing my classic trench coat with a variety of cheerful waist-cinchers, from a yellow silk belt to this patent-leather pink one.

This Baltimore mansion with forked staircase and bright poinsettias out front ended up being perfect for the rainy Saturday afternoon shoot. It gave me distinct L’année Dernière à Marienbad vibes. If you haven’t seen this movie, click through the link to read the Pop Matters analysis of the film, then give it a watch. It’s a narrative enigma – a slowly unfurling puzzle with no resolution – which, if you like incomprehensible Left Bank French New Wave films, you will thoroughly enjoy. If you have seen it, I hope you can see the parallels.

Photo Credit: James L. Harper

J crew icon trench

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