It was just an ordinary coat. Well, no, it wasn’t quite ordinary: a hot pink, faux fur, hip-length jacket with a hood — a rentable version of Cam’ron’s mink. But just under the details listed for the Apparis fuchsia Goldie faux fur coat were a set of rather telling reviews.
“My husband did not like this coat. He said ‘I’m not supposed to like it. I’m supposed to notice it,’” a shopper named Drue wrote in November 2018. “He doesn’t understand fashion,” she added.
Another woman, named Sarah, “wore this to the outlets with my boyfriend so he could spot me across the store between the shoe racks.” In December, Caitlin added that “my husband seemed shocked by the color, but my regular winter coat is bright orange, so he shouldn’t be surprised.”
And Brady, who rented the coat in January, knew what was in store: “I read a review that said this coat was everything and that her husband said he was embarrassed to be out with her in it! LOL! My husband felt the same way but it didn’t stop me! SO. FUN.”
When Hayley MacMillen found the reviews, she was looking for something irreverent. “I noticed the bright color first, then the faux fur on top of the puffer style,” she tells the Cut. “Most coats would pick one of the above, but this coat has it all. It’s ‘too much’ in coat form. I love it.” The fact that the coat seemed to be “unnerving everyone’s husbands and boyfriends,” as she later tweeted, was a bonus.
MacMillen explains that, because she’s 5’10”, reading clothing reviews is part of her shopping process. “I’m looking for other renters around my height who can tell me how a piece fits,” she says. But finding Rent the Runway reviews that read “like short stories” are even better. “They’re a window into the lives of the people who wore the clothes, into the images they’re trying to project by wearing a certain item and how the people around them reacted.” (She remembers another favorite review, from a renter who got a dress for a wedding to which her ex and his new girlfriend were also invited; it made her feel like “actual Michelle Obama.”)
According to Blaire Walsh, Rent the Runway’s style director, the brand started carrying the Apparis coat in October 2018; the team was drawn to the “unique” combination of color and fabric. “I actually wore a different Apparis colored faux fur and my husband had the same reaction: ‘Wow, what is that thing?’” Walsh tells the Cut. “I told him to go with it because I felt awesome in it! This fuchsia coat has a powerful vibe to it.”
Its power has been radiating through Twitter, too. “Behold….the husband befuddler coat,” one person wrote. “I love that the women are so dismissive of it as well. ‘he hated it, HAHAHA. Best coat ever,’” another noted. Some men chimed in that they would wear it themselves, others didn’t understand why it was so polarizing. And one person rightfully observed that “men will tell you all their apparel opinions while wearing cargo shorts.”
As a final test, I threw the coat into a group chat with a trio of men whose personal style tends toward the Midtown Uniform (lot of gray fleece vests). “Hard no,” the first replied almost immediately. “It’s like Sesame Street but make it fashion,” another said. When asked for details, one softened his reaction: “If it was a less invasive color, maybe. There are subtle ways to stand out; this is like a billboard shouting to the masses.”
And perhaps that is the point. Men often dress in a way that allows them to fit in — the Midtown Uniform, the gingham shirt, the black suit. Rare is the bird who strays from the sartorial pack, and when he does, it’s often a go-big-or-go-home moment. Harry Styles’s Gucci suits. Billy Porter’s Golden Globes cape. Cam’Ron’s pink mink.
“Women in particular are so expected to package ourselves visually for men, and when we make choices that are for us — not them — that’s perceived as threatening or subversive,” MacMillen adds. “A lot of women have the experience of being criticized for how they look by a man. The coat is the epitome of ‘girly’: It’s pink, it’s fuzzy, it’s in-your-face. It’s not ‘sexy,’ per se, just fun.” But it’s not supposed to be sexy, either, and even if it was, that wouldn’t factor in for her. “I don’t dress for men. I dress for myself and for Instagram.”
Reader, she rented it.