Puffer coats, or quilted coats, have been perennially popular since Eddie Bauer invented the style in the 1930s. Both classic and warm, they’re a solid addition to any outerwear wardrobe.
Puffer coats can be found in a range of prices. Here’s the difference between the three:
- Starter: If you don’t own one at all, this option is a way to try it out. Lower cost versions will have thinner outer shells and the lining will be a lightweight artificial fiber blend. As such, it will be warm in a narrower range of outside temperatures.
- Staple: At a mid-range price (this one is $130), the lining will be thicker and may even contain some down. It may also come in longer lengths. It will be practical in most winter temperatures and should last several seasons.
- Splurge: At nearly $200, this is an investment piece. The outer shell is much more heavyweight, the quilting is thick and the lining is 100% down and feather. You’ll be toasty warm year after year.
If you don’t like the look of a quilted coat, there are other warm options in different silhouettes. Try a few styles on to see what feels best for you.
- Fab mamas: What clothes do you save on? Which ones do you splurge on?
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You know how winter’s harsh weather and dry indoor climates can wreak havoc on your skin. It’s no picnic for your clothes, either.
Take care of them, however, and you can keep your winter clothes around season after season.
Here are a few quick tips:
- Air dry knit things, like mittens and scarves, that have gotten damp then give them a quick tumble in the dryer to fluff them up.
- Hand wash those woolens, or take them to a dry cleaner. Ditto for other fine items, like silk long underwear.
- Give coats a good cleaning at the end of the season (and ideally at the beginning, too). Check the label for care instructions.
Don’t forget about your footwear, either. Periodically remove grime and mud from your winter boots, then take your leather ones to the cobbler for a thorough post-season shine and, if needed, repair.
Learn more about caring for winter clothes and fabrics at Canadian Living. (And nobody knows from winter like Canadians!)
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Usually when we shop for winter coats, we’re looking for some combination of function and price: is it warm (or waterproof) enough and does it fit in the budget?
Less often do we consider form: Does it flatter my body?
But with so many options for coats in silhouette, length, color, texture and weight, there’s no reason you can’t have a winter coat that keeps you warm and looks good on you.
Here’s how to choose a flattering winter coat
- Know thy body. It’s the first step of choosing any flattering garment, outerwear or otherwise. What’s your body silhouette? What features are you trying to enhance? And do you want to lengthen your legs or torso? Take some cues from shopping for a blazer.
- Think streamlined. You want to avoid looking like your coat is swallowing you alive. Look for more compact down filled linings, for example. Seek out coats that are shaped like a body, with darts, seaming or other narrowing at the waist, rather than a tall rectangle.
- Try a belt. If you really want to break out of the box shape, try a belted design. It adds a little visual flair to your outward look, too.
- Don’t forget color. You’re not restricted to black and grey and brown, either. Sometimes a colorful option can make winter days feel less gloomy and add instant impact. You’d be surprised at how versatile a coat in red or burgundy or mustard yellow can be.
When you budget for your winter coat shopping, plan to spend enough to get good quality. The right coat will last you for years–and when you’re outside, it’s the primary item in your outfit.
It’s better to wear your old coat for another season and save up to buy a better one next year. You’ll be happier every cold day you put it on.
Learn more about how to build outfits–and how to find the garments for them that flatter your body and fit your style–with “No More Yoga Pants: How To Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style,” a step-by-step system that will take you from frantic to fabulous. Get instant access today!
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The camel coat is a Splurge for Fall 2010, especially this one by Philip Lim
Can it really be September already?
Although temperatures may still be scorching in many parts of the country, the turn of the calendar–and the hefty thud of the September issues landing in your mailbox–means it’s time to think about updating your fall wardrobe.
Of all the trends coming out for Fall 2010, what’s worth spending on, and where should you save our money?
Here are my picks for what to splurge on–and what to save on.
Spend your money on the trends that will outlast this season and form the foundation of a lifelong wardrobe–and where the difference high-quality makes is greatest, like outerwear and footwear. Look for the best materials and construction you can afford. You’ll more than get your money’s worth.
- Camel coat. Camel is everywhere this season, but it’s also a classic you can wear time and again. Make sure yours is cut lean with a slight nip at the waist to avoid looking big and bulky.
- Flat boots. Another trend that will be useful for years to come. And let’s face it, they’re just easier to walk in. When there’s snow and ice on the ground, are you really going to try to hike through it in 3-inch heels?
- Belted trench. I’ve sung the praises of my own trench coat, so I can vouch for the long-term wearability of a trench, another classic coat style like the camel coat.
Save your pennies when purchasing trends that will be tucked away again next year, or where better quality doesn’t make an obvious difference. Hermes aside, a scarf is a scarf.
- Animal print accessories. Sure, they come in and out of season several times over the years, but why spend a lot on something fun? A zebra-print bangle or a leopard-print scarf from a mass-market store will work just as well as its pricer cousin. I have just such a scarf that I’ve worn plenty over the years, and it came from Claire’s.
- Metallic fabrics. Assuming you can even pull off this look, it’s bright and flashy, so cheaper is practically better. And it’s hard to imagine you’ll be wearing it again any time soon.
- Cargo jeans. Another look that only works for a few body types (who really wants to add width to their thighs with pockets?), this one practically screams trendy and it won’t be long before it seems terribly dated. Look for cargo jeans at stores like Old Navy or Express, if you must.
- Ruffle front shirt. It’s such a prominent style that once it’s out, it will truly be out for a good while. And a decent version now can be found at such chains as H&M–or even in vintage clothing shops.
- What about you? What are your Splurges and Saves for Fall 2010?
Life-saving clothes? Seems a little dramatic, doesn’t it?
Warm clothes can save you from deep snow, freezing cold
Usually I think about clothes for their form, not their function. How can they make me look? How can they make me feel? Who do they make me?
But as I write this from my home in the DC area, we are under an actual National Weather Service blizzard warning. It’s our fourth snowstorm in less than 2 weeks.
Two of them were pretty dustings. The third, dubbed “Snowmageddon” or “Snowpocalypse” buried us but was mostly inconvenient.
But this one is actually a little bit scary. The wind is howling and snow is blowing. Travel is not inconvenient; it’s impossible.
My husband and I ventured out into it this morning to clear some snow off our roof, fearful of possible collapse. We had to put on layers of long underwear, snow pants, turtlenecks, gloves, down jackets, hats and even goggles.
It made me realize that in this case, the difference between windburn or frostbite was our clothes. They needed to be functional. It didn’t matter what they looked like.
If we lose power in this storm, it could be hours or days if it’s restored. Power crews can’t go out in this. Again, what we wear may become vitally important. Standing between us and freezing temperatures will be our clothes.
If you’re also in the mid-Atlantic, I hope you’re safe and warm.
- Have you ever counted on your clothes to keep you safe?
- To save your life?
The official first day of winter is just around the corner, but for most of us, the mercury has already dipped well into frigid digits.
Staying warm when venturing outside is a must. What’s a chic woman to do?
Here are a few secrets for dressing well while staying warm.
- Skip the ski jacket. Unless you’re schussing in the Alps this winter, of course. That is–don’t settle for ordinary outerwear. Why ruin a perfectly good outfit with an ill-fitting or unflattering coat? Try a well-cut wool coat in a full-length that skims and elongates the body. For casual ensembles, perhaps a fun waist-length puffer, with or without hood. The fewer straps, buttons, pockets and other items strewn all over the outside surface, the better. Keep to classic, neutral colors. And build up your coat wardrobe over time. These are investment pieces; don’t expect to buy them all in a single season.
- Pick a proper topper. When it’s cold enough or the wind blows, a hat is the only way to go. Since it will be covering most of your head around your face, make sure it works with your features–just as a hairstyle would. Try several on. A quick check in the mirror will tell you whether you favor a knit cap, a wool beret or a felt hat with a brim. There are so many options, there’s no reason for your winter chapeau to be anything less than fabulous.
- Think “accessories.” You’ve got the coat and the hat. Now think carefully about the scarf and gloves to go with them, in style, materials and color. A super-long knit scarf doesn’t work with a cropped length coat. A silk scarf seems out of place with a vinyl jacket. And don’t feel confined to making everything matchy-matchy. While you don’t want clashing shades of red (it will seem as if you were attempting to match, but missed), try a solid scarf with patterned gloves, or the other way around. Make sure the colors work with both the coat and the hat.
- Layer up. Underneath all that outerwear, do you still feel a chill? Add on the layers! A thin turtleneck will keep you from adding bulk but provide an extra layer of warmth to a sweater, jacket or dress. Wear thick tights with skirts and if you’re feeling adventurous this season, try leg warmers on top (but never over knee-high boots). If you don’t want your layering to show, find a pair of fine silk thermal underwear. Worn under pants and shirts, they’ll keep you toasty and none will be the wiser.
Tell me: What are your favorite ways of keeping warm while staying chic?
Last month, I wrote about the importance of the outer layer of your outfit — coats, trenches, jackets and the like.
I mentioned how one of my two raincoats made any outfit look casual and even baggy, thus making me reluctant to wear it, despite its practicality.
Michael Kors belted trench
This month, I decided to take my own advice, especially after coming across a perfect take on the trench from Michael Kors, on sale at Bluefly for 40% off. Not only is the fit tailored and the cross-tying belt fun, but it has a little hood for those days when it’s lightly drizzly and you want to protect your hair without manipulating an umbrella.
And sure enough, when I put it on I feel vastly more glamorous than in the other coat. Owning it almost — almost — makes me look forward to rainy days.
- Tell me: What piece of style advice have you followed recently? What was the result? (And what’s your favorite coat?)