Teresa Crowninshield is a coat company that excels at luxurious, comfortable, well-fitting coats with a unique design. For this weekend’s upcoming Secret Style Saturday event, subscribers to their email list will get a discount on five new designs. I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you a little bit of why I’m so personally excited (and somewhat conflicted) about their coats.
Let’s start with the positives:
- Their coats are entirely made out of high-quality natural fabrics. Teresa Crowninshield’s signature Azurean coat is lined with a silk thicker and heavier than that of most silk blouses.
- There’s a coat for every body type: some coats I couldn’t have tailored to fit me better, and others look awful on me but would look fabulous on people with straighter figures. While Teresa Crowninshield only sells up to a size 16 on their website, they’ve “gone well into the 20s” for clients who needed bigger coats.
- Every design is both classically tailored and unique, usually with fun colorblocking. Teresa Crowninshield coats are appropriate for any occasion where you really want to impress people. They’re the kind of coat you choose to wear on stage with the President of the United States.
And now, the negatives:
- None of her coats are entirely vegetarian, and many of her fabrics are sourced from China, including angora. China’s got a history of animal cruelty when it comes to angora farming, and Tess doesn’t do anything special to ensure her Chinese angora is cruelty-free. (If you’re interested in avoiding Chinese angora but still want one of her coats, she still has some incredibly beautiful silk coats, and a few newer designs in silk-lined bamboo).
- Teresa Crowninshield coats are priced like something you’d wear on stage with the President. Your first coat will generally cost between $375 and $695.
That’s a reasonable price, considering the materials (I ballparked the cost of the raw materials of her Azurean coat at $222.40)* and the labor (Teresa Crowninshield coats are USA-designed and USA-made on a small scale, and each Azurean takes the better part of a day to make). That price also comes with perks– she gives you a lifetime 20% discount after you’ve bought your first coat (so subsequent coats will cost $300-$556).
That still doesn’t mean most people can afford that investment. So if you’re interested in a sharp-looking coat that has a less inventive design and less luxurious materials but is cheaper and weatherproof, maybe check out Mia Melon’s Ultimate All-Weather Coat for $129-$139.
Tess (the owner) was kind enough to let me take a bunch of pictures of myself wearing her beautiful coats at a local craft fair to demonstrate how they fit. Those are below the fold.
$375-$695 for first coat, $300-$556 afterwards
I came across Teresa Crowninshield (previously known as Crown Coats) on Hourglassy. Not all of her coats are bust-friendly, but a number of them are. I’m including pictures of myself in a variety of cuts so you can get an idea of which ones to gravitate towards or avoid!
Several of Tess Coburn’s coats are not currently available on the Teresa Crowninshield website. She sells most of her coats at craft fairs (which she says has been invaluable to her as a pattern-maker. Hundreds of women have gotten to try her coats on in person and improve the fit) and by monthly “Secret Style Saturday” emails. If you wanted to buy one of these coats and don’t see it on her website, get on her email list and drop her a line. She’s told me that her website inventory will expand soon.
Also, a fun tidbit: she apparently shares machinery with the Volante Design people, which I was absolutely tickled to accidentally find out while chatting with her. I felt like their coats would appeal to a surprising number of the same people– people who wanted to look sharp, unconventional, and colorblocked. Apparently I managed to become a fan of two tiny companies that work down the hall from one another in a city I’ve never visited.
The Ones With A Bust-Friendly Fit
If you really, really want to know which coats will fit you, walk up to Tess and ask. She really understands her coats in a 3D way: I walked into the stall, she sized me up, and she offered me things to try on in the right size and form factor. I had to ask her to let me try on things that wouldn’t fit me.
The first two I tried on were both made of what Tess described as bamboo from Italy milled in a new way that makes it look like fine wool. I asked her if she meant real unadultered bamboo or bamboo rayon (there is a legal and technical difference): she said “no, no rayon at all, just bamboo.” Take from that what you will.
The Silver Keystone, $575
It was soft, smooth, lustrous, and lined with pale grey silk. And not just any silk; Teresa Crowninshield coat linings are a thick 16-18mm silk, nearly twice as durable as the standard “China silk” or habotai silk lining a coat like this would have. These coats are going to wear well.
The pocket flaps can be tucked into the (comfortably deep and also silk-lined) pockets if you want a more streamlined look. Personally, I like them. This coat would have looked better on me with a little tailoring to bring the waist in slightly, but as you can see, it still looks good as is.
The Tails ($575)
Hourglassy had mentioned the Tails as an option that would look good on busty women. I got a picture of it in its new bamboo blend. This version is called the Genevieve.
Tess described it as a “statement jacket,” and it certainly was. It made me feel a little like an 18th-century French major general. Apparently I enjoy that.
The Azurean ($695)
This one’s called the Royale. Most iterations of this cut are called the Azurean.
When I tried this on, I was a size 14. Given that I’ve never worn a size 14 anything else in my life, I suspect this one generally runs a size or two small.
It is the most amazing coat: asymmetrical and classic at the same time. It’s also versatile: it has some built-in styling elements that enable you to wear it several different ways.
Number one, the lapels vary neatly in size depending on how much you button it up:
I don’t think giant lapels are a flattering look on me. Luckily, that’s not the only way to wear it! Here is the medium-sized lapel version:
Here are the lapels with all the buttons fastened:
And you can also convert it into a tall, squared-off mandarin collar.
Also, there’s a special way to cinch it in the back to make it hang more naturally when it’s open, and you can tie a sash in the front or in the back.
The main downsides to my experience wearing this: if you’re sensitive to wools and you want to wear it all the way buttoned up, your neck will itch. Most of it is lined in silk, but the black on the lapels is a merino/cashmere/angora blend, not silk. Additionally, the button anchoring is okay but not great.
The Ones With A Straighter Fit
I also wanted to help you know which ones to avoid if you’re busty, and gravitate towards if you are straighter! Tess was very accommodating in letting me try these on for you.
The Switchback ($475-515)
Two different sizes, same design, both look ultra-weird over my bust. Which is a shame, because I think this is one of her coolest-looking coats.
The Velvet Night Owl
It’s really short on me, and the colorblocking looked wrong with my bust. Though it actually looks a little better in photos! Also, I found the hood small, but I also have a larger than average head.
The Patch Pocket (possibly?)
I looked pretty hard for it online, and I couldn’t find out what it was. But it closely resembles The Patch Pocket. I like the colors, but as you can see, it pulled at the bust while simultaneously making me look like I’d gained about 10 pounds. Hooray!
Overall Thoughts: Misc
The Azureans are very soft for evening coats made of wool, and are some of the only 100% wool coats you can find: no nylon, no acrylic, no polyester. Just wool. The bamboo coats were comfortable and soft all around.
Scattered clothing articles have some of that weird luxury-clothing dichotomy going on where “luxe” things are either unbelievably soft and cozy or scratchy and terrible. I noticed that dichotomy the most with The Janice B Blouse (which I did not try on, but touched on the rack). The tan silk of the blouse might actually be the thickest, most luxurious silk I have ever felt. The shoulders are made of a scratchy black brocade.
Finally, her customer service at the fair was quite nice– she was very friendly, she wasn’t too sales-y (she’d only offer opinions on whether things looked good on me after I asked for them, and they were reasonable opinions), we chatted a bit about China.
Basically, other than very slightly wobbly buttons, Teresa Crowninshield coats are worth investing in.
*eHow says a winter coat contains about 5 yards of wool fabric and 4 yards of lining fabric. Mood Fabrics says a coat has 5-7 yards of fabric.
Mood Fabrics puts wool/cashmere blends at $35 a yard– assuming there’s some kind of wholesale discount of about $5 per yard, that’s still $150. Aili Silk sells 16MM silk charmeuse by the meter for $15.99 + $3.99 shipping, which is the cheapest I could find it, so by that metric, the silk would cost $62.48. RamieandLinen sells a 15mm silk charmeuse fabric for $29/yd. I estimated $7.97 for silk-covered buttons and $1.95 for interfacing.
She sources her fabric directly from mills, so she’s cutting out middleman prices, but if you tried to make it yourself, it would cost you a minimum of $222.40.