Written By: Marjorie Cliff Picard
Down coats have been seen on the runways recently and are regaining their popularity with new styles that flatter the wearer, unlike the old coats that turned off buyers in the past. They have always been light, warm, and protective against cold, wind and snow but, until lately, unflattering to women’s bodies. Gone are the days when a woman looking in the mirror would see the Michelin Man—or the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
The term puffer has come into use. Puffers can contain down to insulate but may
also be filled with synthetic material. The down puffer jacket or coat is warmer but more expensive. However, it lasts longer, perhaps for many years.
Current fashion styles in down coats are extremely varied. A customer can choose from very casual to very elegant. There are many variations in style. The down coat has been reinvented. There are new cuts and designs, including very short and very long, waist-cinched, color varieties, prints, fur-trimmed and more.
Much depends on the climate. Certainly, an Alaskan needs a different coat from the one required by a Southerner. The more down in a coat, the warmer it is. There are coats with minimal down, and others that pack it in and are bulkier. This does not mean they are unflattering because they can be customized to any shape. There are long and lean coats and coats with more vivid colors and prints of all kinds, including leopard, plaid, abstract and floral. There are bright colors, including intense red, orange and bright yellow. But the woman in the coldest climate should have reinforced zippers, wind flaps, a hood and greater length.
With sports enthusiasts, the short down jacket has been popular for a long time. Many are designed for all kinds of outdoor activities, such as hiking, skating, skiing and camping. They are practical, warm, lightweight and simple and now come in bright colors. One of the top colors for all types of down coats this current season is white.
Fur trim is popular, with fur collars, hoods, wrists and inserts. Fur with long or short hair can be chosen. Hoods can be attached with clasps and buttons. And extra buttons can shield the wearer from the wind. Some jackets have knit sleeves. Down jackets by Marc Jacobs can come in a high-gloss black finish.
Elegent styles can be fur-trimmed or below the knee and have a belted waist or be in an A-line style with big fur cuffs. The more elegent coats come in more subdued colors, such as black and gray.
The number of puffy sections, which are separated by seams, can vary widely. Some coats appear to have no seams at all, and others can have uniquely shaped sections.
To look stylish with a down coat, the wearer has options. Fashion experts suggest wearing slimming black or dark pants, leggings or tight-fitting jeans, or a leather, long or pencil skirt. Wearing heels, whether low or high, can add height.
The old, huge down coat has morphed into a chic, fashionable and greatly varied down coat. But the bottom line remains: The down coat is totally practical.