Softer Softer

Above: Jillian Aufderheide

Few people can make a fur vest and leggings look like the outfit you never knew you needed. Local mom and entrepreneur Jillian Aufderheide, owner of Aufderheide Furs is one who can.

The first time I met Jillian, I was in my mom uniform of jeans, sweater, down vest and Stan Smith’s. Jillian was wearing workout leggings, high-heeled sneakers and a fabulous mink vest with a funnel neck. It’s no wonder she is the go-to girl for stylish custom fur pieces.

Photograph: Contributed

In 2013 Jillian began turning vintage mink coats into chic couch pillows (she’s still known for them in interior decorating circles). She then decided to try her hand at fur coat design and apprenticed with artisans in New York City who had been making coats for generations. Instead of sewing the coats herself, she partnered with these artisans and combined her modern aesthetic with their timeless talent to create modern and eminently wearable coats.

Photograph: Contributed

Jillian visits with the client in-home for the first meeting, bringing all of her styles—from a cowl-necked vest to a short-sleeved Persian lamb jacket adorned with a cheeky sequined eye patch to glamorous mink shrugs. She peruses the client’s closet to understand her taste and ensure that the bespoke piece will fit into her wardrobe. Once the client has a sense of what she wants, the customization begins—type of fur (mink, sable, fox, karakul, chinchilla, lamb and special requests), color, cut and lining. The process can take two weeks for a rush job on an existing style or up to three months if a fur needs to be special ordered or custom dyed.


A look at what makes Jillian’s pieces unique

Your grandmother likely wore a massive swinging A-line coat, and only for special occasions. These are not your grandmothers’ coats. The patterns are modern with clean lines and designed to make a statement. If you’re emotionally attached to a fur you inherited, Jillian can remake it into a fresh, fashionable piece.

White Persian lamb jacket with silk animal-print lining
Photograph: Kit Kittle

No more handing your gorgeous fur off to the unseen realm of the coat check. Many of the designs are meant to be worn indoors in lieu of a jacket or sweater.

to change their perception that fur is only for fall and winter. A great piece in gray, white or a soft pastel or neutral can be perfect for a breezy summer night on the water.

Cross fox and mink vest with cashmere lining
Photograph: Kit Kittle

Stop saving your fabulous fur for special occasions; these pieces are meant for everyday wear. “My pieces allow you to look chic at lunch or dinner, yet cozy and cool at the kids’ sports games. It all depends on how you style them,” says Jillian. “And my clients love that I have lots of lightweight shorter pieces—great for getting in and out of
the car.”

Jillian will also update a favorite wardrobe staple with a pop of fur. “We’ve seen it with shoes and bags, but sweaters and pants with fur accents are big this season. Adding a fur cuff, collar, pocket or perfectly placed block of fur to your favorite top or pants feels modern and fresh,” she says.

Mink jacket with pleated sleeve and silk python-print lining
Photograph: Kit Kittle

Prices for Jillian’s pieces vary greatly —$2,500 to $68,000—and are obviously dependent on the type and amount of fur used.

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