Hybrid clothing is a tricky area in fashion. Footwear marketed as "practical and formal" generally turn out to be neither, and horrendously ugly on top of that. Jeggings are a sartorial atrocity. But every now and then you'll see a piece that takes the best of two worlds and combines them perfectly.

The cardigan-jacket hybrid that third-year psychology student Jessica Stengel wears here is a good example of hybridization done right.

"I get a lot of compliments on it," she says. "It's something I hadn't really seen before in terms of the makeup of the coat."

It's certainly a unique piece. The cascading collar, like a giant cozy pair of lapels, adds warmth as well as visual interest, and the natural fall of the fabric is pleasantly asymmetrical.

The belted cardigan is also a popular trend this fall; the cinched waist is flattering, but the length and fabric convey fall-cozy like nothing else.

The structuring around the shoulders, sleeves and waist takes it from fashionable cardigan to functional coat. Striped shades of gray and burgundy make the jacket stand out, channeling fall and the changing leaves. The geometric and Aztec patterning along the collars, sleeves and hem is complex but not too busy, as Stengel has paired it with solid colours throughout the rest of her outfit.

For the ladies, form-fitting jeans should go under long boots, having the added benefit of showing off your fall footwear. Men, on the other hand, should usually have their jeans looser and over their boots, possibly cuffed to break up the colour.

Stengel's leather boots are another subtler example of a hybrid. The brown leather along the top adds a rich, warm tone to the darker shades of blue and black, and a small, flashy buckle on the heel catches the light for a tasteful touch of bling.

WHERE TO GET IT

Coat: Suzy Shier. The Canadian retailer has an attractive selection of these cardigan-jackets in various patterns, mostly under $100. The soft weave, distinctive patterning and asymmetry make it a unique and inimitable piece in any closet.

Jeans: American Eagle. Can't go wrong with classic blue jeans.

Boots: Boutique in Owen Sound. Two-tone leather isn't too rare, but it's usually a different colour between the sole and the rest of the shoe; the brown leather around the top is unusual and visually pleasing. A bit of heel adds elegance to practicality.

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Opinions Editor

Richard is the Opinions Editor for Volume 111. Previously, he was Culture Editor-At-Large for Volume 110, Arts & Lifestyle Editor for Volume 109, and staff writer for Volume 108. Email him at richard.joseph@westerngazette.ca

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