A: Fur gets a lot of people's dander up—there are more humane ways to stay warm on a winter night. Besides, unless you're expecting a gang of paparazzi to greet your arrival, you don't have to get fancy with a special-occasion coat (why invest in something you'll use only a few times a year at most?). In warmer climates, keep it simple with a trenchcoat, preferably in always-dressy black in an evening-friendly fabric: taffeta, satin, organza, or a synthetic with shine. Another happy strategy is to mix sporty with formal, throwing a well-cut wool coat or longer down parka over your gown. It's a modern, unfussy approach. And no animals will be harmed in the making of your outfit.
Turn a trench into a day-or-night asset: This shapely coat has a portrait collar worthy of the most important occasion, and the fabric has a fabulous sheen.
Coat, Lafayette 148 New York, $898. Dress, Amsale, $695