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Open Thread: This Week in Style News

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So in the interests of being in the know, who is that masked man?

Jenden, who is British and went to Central St. Martin’s and the Royal College of Art, has a history with DVF. He was creative director of the brand from 2001 to 2010 — he and Von Furstenberg used to take their runway bow together — when he left to concentrate on his own line, which launched in 2005. That didn’t go so well, and most recently he was creative director of Bebe.

Meanwhile, DVF also couldn’t settle down without him, going through three designers in the last seven years.

Now both sides are older, wiser and have presumably realized what they missed without the other — which is probably a good thing in these days of crazy designer churn. A lot of fashion success is dependent on relationships (designer with founder, designer with C.E.O., designer with design studio, brand with consumers) and it takes time to build that kind of trust and understanding.

Anyway, enough with the lectures! Let’s see how it all plays out next month.

For now, I offer the following reads: Amber Tamblyn’s searingly honest Op-Ed about getting dressed for an awards ceremony; an inside look on how the experts pack for the men’s wear season; and the latest, weirdest slogan clothes. Have a good weekend!

Your Style Questions, Answered

Every week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a reader’s fashion-related question, which you can send to her anytime via email or Twitter. Questions are edited and condensed.

Q: My son is in college in Maine, and the temperature is frequently below zero. It seems like every woman is swathed in an ankle-length black puffer coat from November to March, so why do men have so few choices in outerwear that is knee length or longer? Have you come across any knee-length down coats for men? — Amy, Pelham, N.Y.

A: It’s true: Though dress coats hit at the knee and great coats (especially those that are military-inspired in heavy wool) can be even longer, in general men got the short end of the stick in the coat-length sweepstakes. It’s pretty clear this is one of those sexist fashion things — a long coat is somehow seen as not manly, unless maybe you live in Russia and it is fur. Because real men…have weatherproof legs? Or something.

Given that all sorts of gender rules are loosening up when it comes to clothing these days, however, a warmer time may be on the horizon. In the meantime, however, I asked Matthew Schneier, our deputy fashion critic (currently in Milan at the shows) for his advice. Here’s what he said:

“Where men’s outerwear is concerned, even the hardiest coats seem to come only to somewhere above the knee. To test the theory, I looked around at a range of brands known for their tough winter-wear (the North Face, Canada Goose, Moncler, Duvetica, Stone Island) and struck out at every one. Even L.L. Bean (which knows something about Maine winters, being headquartered there!) didn’t offer much that dropped below the waist. I suspect it’s that floor-length outerwear is pretty unwieldy, especially where there’s snow and slush on the ground, and many men (at the expense of their body temperatures) chafe at the idea of something long enough to be mistaken for women’s wear.

My solution, for what it’s worth, is to pile on the underlayers. Thermal-wear has come a long way since the days of heavy waffle weaves in one color (though I love those, too). I swear by Uniqlo’s Heattech line, which I wear, tops and bottoms, basically all winter. They’re thinner, softer and warmer than their predecessors, cheaper by far than a new coat, and they disappear under clothes. Friends report that there was a run on them at the New York Uniqlo stores last week when the weather was wretched here. I wouldn’t know; I order mine, as can you, online.” — VANESSA FRIEDMAN

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