Down coats are up in popularity again

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.


Your best jacket option, down or fleece

Written By: Eric Riley

As summer starts to give way to autumn and eventually winter, temperatures drop and cold weather starts kicking in. It is therefore best to consider purchasing a new jacket to protect yourself from the elements. Of course, you would want the best jacket available for you, and thus, you will have to carefully choose what kind of jacket you want. In particular, you must consider what material your jacket will be made out of: down or fleece? Which one is better? The answer to this question is that it really depends on the specific circumstances you are in.

First, let us examine down. Down is a natural insulator consisting of the undercoating feathers of geese and ducks. When this plumage is clustered together, these feathers trap air with a high level of efficiency, meaning that you are losing far less heat compared with other forms of insulation. Furthermore, down jackets can prove to be long-term investments in that if they are properly cared for, they can last decades. Down is also very lightweight and feels luxurious to the touch.

Unfortunately, down’s biggest disadvantage is that it loses its effectiveness when it rains. When it becomes wet, down ends up flattened and can no longer insulate properly. Furthermore, it can take a long time for down to dry out completely, usually more than a day. In 2012, water-repellent treatments were introduced to down, making it usable in mists or light drizzles. However, down remains completely useless in heavy rain. It is also the more expensive option.

Fleece is the cheaper option of the two. While down is slightly warmer, fleece tends to be more effective, especially for highly active people. This is because fleece is a highly breathable material that provides effective insulation when your body is producing more heat than normal—that is, when you are highly active. It is also very soft, and it can come in weights of light, middle, and heavy, giving you more options. It dries out more quickly than most other jacket materials, meaning that it does not have any of the problems that down has when it gets wet.

That said, fleece really is not suited to wearing for prolonged periods of time. It tends to be bulky and is useless as a windbreaker. Fleece is most effective when it is worn underneath another layer of clothing. Unless you are an active person or an athlete of some sort, it is best to also get something to wear over your fleece jacket.

So once again, let me state that which one is better really depends on the circumstances you are in. If you live in an area where winters tend to be rather wet or you are a very active person, then fleece is the way to go. If you are in a situation where you are exposed to the cold for more prolonged periods of time or are looking for something that lasts longer, then down is the best choice for you. It is these sorts of circumstances that determine exactly what would be the best type of jacket for you.

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