by Walter Thulin
Each year, just before snow begins to fall, I look into my closet and find my trusty winter jacket. I bought it when I was sixteen and it’s been with me through blizzards and broken-down cars alike. Without a doubt, it’s the best clothing investment I’ve ever made.
Buying a winter coat can be tricky. They are often expensive and, with that in mind, it’s crucial that you buy the right one. When looking for a winter jacket, there are several key components to any good coat: style, technology, and material.
Different jackets are meant for different weather. As fall turns to winter, the styles of jackets change as well. Goodbye to the leather jacket, hello to the pea coat, the parka, and the down. As with other clothing, the most important style component of any winter jacket is its fit. Oftentimes, winter jackets are bought a size or two too large with the intention of layering. This can be a mistake. Jackets are meant to fit comfortably. If this means sizing up for an over-suit topcoat or getting a fairly snug parka that fits over a t-shirt, then go for it. A jacket being one of the more expensive pieces of your wardrobe, you don’t want to pay for a poor fit. And regardless, too large a coat can be drafty, negating the coats very purpose.
Jackets are becoming better engineered as time goes on. Inner linings are made to reflect heat back on the wearer. Breathable but waterproof shells are common. And some jackets even have built-in gloves. None of this new technology, however, beats the time-tested rules to staying warm: stay dry, insulate, and don’t let heat escape. Jacket technology has a hard time keeping you warm once you’re wet, and if heat can escape, getting dry can be impossible. Jacket technology can be helpful or can be overkill. A jacket with electric heating may be too much for even New Haven’s winters.
What a jacket is made of can make or break its ability to keep you warm. A wool jacket can easily do the trick, but, once it gets wet, you may as well not wear it. Synthetics, on the other hand, can stay dry but often lack breathability. Keeping materials in mind when buying a jacket is key and function generally should dictate material. When going from class to class, staying warm is most important, so wool and cashmere are your best bet. If you’re outside for longer periods, down will keep you much more sustainably warm and dry.
Stay warm. Stay dry. Make winter fashionable!