The Olsen Twins Will Be Your Guide To Dressing For Outdoor Socialising In A Pandemic – Here’s Proof

Oversized coats and jumbo scarves are Ashley and Mary-Kate's go-tos.

Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen

by Laura Antonia Jordan |
Updated on

Woman Wears Brown Coat in New York’. It hardly makes for the most exciting headline, but for fans of the Olsens' style (of which there are many – and not necessarily the women who would usually go gaga for a celebrity lewk), a glimpse of Ashley Olsen’s practical pandemic outfit this May – including protective mask, gloves, and silk scarf – is peak clickbait.

What really made Ashley’s unassuming get-up worthy of the Olsen style hall of fame, however, was the coat: a mannish, single-breasted style that appeared to be a couple of sizes too big. Because, when it comes to outerwear, nobody does it better than Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen. Given that Covid restrictions require most of us to do any socialising outside, chances are we'll be channeling the Olsen's bundled-up style this winter, whether we know it or not.

Ashley Olsen in May 2020
Ashley Olsen in May 2020 ©Getty

The Row founders have always been au fait with the power of a great coat. Standing a whisker over 5” tall (ditto, me), they have always refused to kowtow to the ‘rules’ of dressing a petite frame. Instead of opting for cropped, nipped-in cuts, when it comes to winter dressing they are all about the volume; floor-sweeping, figure-swamping coats and XXL scarves have been recurring hits in their wardrobes over the past decade.

The Olsens at the 2015 CFDA Awards
The Olsens at the 2015 CFDA Awards ©Getty

For winter, Ashley and Mary-Kate are a no brainer for your mental moodboard. Whether it’s a tailored style from The Row out and about in New York, a bohemian vintage piece or Mary-Kate’s shearling old Céline coat (I still have alerts set for this. One day…) for a Knicks game, time and again they prove the transformative appeal of a great coat. Indeed, so attached are they to them, that coats aren’t necessarily reserved for New York’s harsh winters. That brown number Ashley wore this year was given an outing in spring, worn somewhat incongruously with sandals. There have been coats in balmy LA, and coats on the red carpet (see Mary-Kate’s vintage saffron Balmain number, worn to the Met Gala in 2013, and a gold velvet one at the same event in 2016) - and not as a compromise to get to the event, the coat is the event. Just think of all the time saved waiting for the cloakroom at the end of the night.

Mary-Kate Olsen at the 2013 Met Gala
Mary-Kate Olsen at the 2013 Met Gala ©Getty

The charm of a killer coat (which, it has to be noted, doesn’t necessarily demand razzle-dazzle details) is that it does all the hard work for you. Whether thrown over a tracksuit or a no-fuss LBD, in knockout outerwear you feel ready to take on the world. The oversized layers of Ashley and Mary-Kate’s winter looks have a whiff of protection and anonymity about them (I am pocket-sized like them and have always appreciated the swaddle - and warmth - of too many, too big layers). Their trailing look-no-hands! sleeves and hems, jumbo scarves and slouchy knits are like comfort blankets – admittedly ultra-expensive, super-luxe ones, but still. No doubt Freud would have a field day with what this all means.

The Olsens in 2017
The Olsens in 2017 ©Getty

That’s the charm of the Olsens style too, and why devotees hungrily lap up every detail of every look. They are effortless; there is nothing choreographed about them and you will never see them posting an #OOTD. They don't propel a hard-edged glamour on the world, but a quiet, low-key elegance. Consider the way these coats are often teamed with a venti Starbucks cup, unbrushed hair, two handbags or a crafty fag: there is never any doubt that the Olsens are dressing for anyone but themselves. In today’s look-at-me society, they continue to get attention by doing the opposite of what everyone else is – not looking for it.


Fashback: The Olsen Twins

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A decade ago, the Olsens were already proving they had a thing for knockout jackets.

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2011, Mary-Kate

The essential ingredients of Mary-Kate's off-duty style: an ultra-luxe handbag, a coffee, messy hair, a blanket-sized scarf and, naturally, a killer coat.

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2013, Mary-Kate

Mary-Kate wore vintage Balmain to the 2013 Met Gala.

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2014, Ashley

Ashley shows that the only way to accessories a tailored coat is with shades and two handbags.

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2014, Mary-Kate

Sets alert for 'bohemian blanket coat' immediately.

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Big coats and a bigger scarf at the CFDA Awards in 2015. Consider this your masterclass in low-key glamour.

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Vintage Dior by John Galliano at the 2015 Met Gala. Honestly, why does anyone else even bother showing up?

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2016, Ashley

Ashley's off-duty look proves that while the Olsens might never court attention, they will always get it.

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2016, Mary-Kate

Deep breath: this old Céline coat, which Mary-Kate wore to a Knicks game in 2016, is the dream.

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At the Met Gala in 2016.

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Coats also get a spin after-dark, here at the CFDA Awards in 2017.

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2019, Ashley

Ashley also has a thing for shearling.

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Forget the LBD, it's all about the LBC (that's Long Black Coat) for Mary-Kate at the 2019 CFDA Awards.

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2020, Ashley

How to style out a pandemic 101 courtesy of Ashley in May 2020

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