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I'm Down With That ~ Down Coats That Won't Make You Look Like a Marshmallow
Down jackets can be stylish ... I promise
It gets cold here in Chicago. And windy. And icy. I especially enjoy that lovely stuff meteorologists call "wintry mix." Nope, it's not a festive holiday potpourri or Christmasy take on Chex Party Mix. It's what Mother Nature does when she can't decide whether to make it rain, sleet, or snow--and is in a really foul mood :(
After years of rolling with the precipitation punches and alternating between three different winter coats, none of which were truly warm enough, I realized I could save time, money, and heat loss by finding just one cute down coat. Something that didn't make me look like the Michelin Man. (No offense. He's cute, too. Just not in a way I want to emulate for five months straight!)
Searching for that holy grail of down jackets, I learned something: It all comes down to a defined waist. Designers have tricks for doing this, and never is it more important than with the potential marshmallow that is a down coat. Here, some stylish puffer jackets / coats that rise to the challenge, grouped by the smart waist-defining strategies they employ.
Quick tip: This may be obvious, but for the best deals, shop off-season for your puffer jacket!
It's not rocket science: A belt is an obvious way to add shape to a puffy jacket. My only caveat is to be careful not to lose the belt (as I did, in a theatre with my favorite long down coat) if it's not attached. (Have to say, I did make lemons from lemonade by adding a cute, moderately priced "regular" belt to the coat that kinda looks like I did it on purpose for extra style points .... ;)
Black, white or navy
Black, chocolate, loden, navy
Black, or a quite nice looking olive
Blk or winter white
Chevrons...they're not just for varsity jackets anymore! In fashion, chevron stitching acts like arrows, guiding the eye to certain areas of the body. When it points inward to the waist? No more marshmallow girl :}
Blk, olive, navy, silver
Mink, bone colors
Strategic horizontal stitching
In this case, designers replace the belt with a sort of self-belt: targeted stitching around the waist that serves a beltlike function, or elastic in the the back to beltlessly cinch the waist. I'm sure there's a fancy term for this, but to the unschooled (like me) it's just smart...and cute.
Oversized collars like this one can stand in for a scarf. One less thing to worry about! And I've been a toggle-coat fan since middle school...
Okay, so I didn't know what ruching was until a few years ago. I do now. (It's a method of gathering fabric with stitching accents, often with elastic sewn on the back for shape.) And I have to say, I'm a huge fan of this design trick when used appropriately.
Prepare to be asked where you got this one.
this chic style is filled with performance-level down. Unfortunately there are very few left. Update, winter 2013/14: I'm so happy a navy version is now popping up! So chic!
A time-honored sewing technique, these seams curve down the front and/or back of a garment to flatter the figure without a waistband.
Not content with princess seaming in the front, this one takes it too the back too -- with flattering results.
Side stretch panels
Just when I think designers have run out of tailoring tricks for giving these coats some shape, I bump into a new one. This discovery -- the fabulous flattery of stretch panels -- comes courtesy of my brand-new packable down jacket from BCBG.
Here's another side-stretch number that also has that subtle pseudo-belt stitching around the middle. Sleeves don't appear to be down-filled, though, so depending on where you live, this may not cut it in January.
Mirror mirror on the wall...
What's the cutest of them all?
Which waist-defining trick do you think works the best?
Cute coat: check.
Cute boots: check.
Do you have a tried-and-true winter coat you love? Does style matter when it's 10 below zero, or is warmth the only thing on your mind? If you live in the tropics and this whole lens is moot, well...you can take your smug, suntanned self elsewhere. JK! ;)