Work Coats

A Guide to Shopping for the Right Work Coat

There may be a variety of reasons why you are shopping for a new work coat. Maybe you’ve started a new job—whether an office job or one that requires you to work outside. Maybe your old coat is damaged. Or perhaps you simply want to update your professional look this year. Whatever the reason, with so many different types of winter coats, it can be difficult knowing where to look and what to purchase. Here is a quick guide to help you shop for the right work coat this year.

Consider Your Job's Rules and Regulations

Believe it or not, the laws in your chosen career field may determine what type of work coat you need to wear during your shift. This is typically for your own safety, especially if you work outdoors and need a high-visibility coat so you can easily be seen, or if you work around a fire and need flame-resistant outerwear. Keep this in mind before you even begin your search so you’re not met with any surprises after you make your purchase. Check with your employer to see if they might reimburse you for your purchase as well.

Keep in Mind the Type of Work You Do

If you’re going to be outside even part of the day for your job, you’ll want to keep in mind the type of work you’ll be doing. For example, if you’re planning on being relatively active, you will want a coat that keeps you warm, but not too warm once you start moving. It should allow you to move freely and comfortably. In contrast, if you’re likely to be standing still most of the time, you will want to focus more on warmth than on mobility. Choose some cold-weather accessories to protect your extremities.

Choose the Right Weight and Strength

If you have a job that has you brushing up against harsh materials or exposing you to rigid weather conditions, you’ll want your work coat to be tough and durable. That durability will typically depend on the shell of the coat. The weight, however, is usually determined by the shell and the insulation. That’s why it is important to consider both when choosing a coat that is appropriate for your workplace.

Choose the Right Shell

The most common types of materials for coat shells are nylon, polyester, wool, and fleece. Ideal for cold, wet, and windy weather, nylon coats are be made to resist both wind and water. They are also easy to clean, aside from any decorative details made of other materials like wool. While it looks similar to nylon, polyester can be more lightweight and flexible depending on the thickness and weave of the shell. Nylon is usually more durable, while polyester is more packable and dries more quickly.

Due to the way it is often tailored, wool looks refined and classy, and can also be quite warm. However, it is not weatherproof. Ideal for fall and springtime temperatures, fleece moves easily with your body and provides an extra layer of warmth when needed. Fleece is good for jobs that require a lot of movement, though it is better to wear in dry conditions, as fleece absorbs water unless it has a waterproof shell.

Choose the Right Insulation

The type of insulation for work coats is often made of down, polyester, or another synthetic material. Made from goose or duck feathers, or of a combination of feathers and other fillers, down coats come in different heat ratings. If you work in warmer temperatures, you should choose a down coat with a low-fill power or temperature rating, which means you won’t get overheated wearing it. In contrast, a high-fill power and temperature rating will keep you warmer. A men’s down jacket with a high-temperature rating can keep you quite toasty even in the coldest weather. However, down itself is not waterproof, so keep that in mind if you work in wet conditions. You may be able to find a water-repellent one; however, which should help keep you dry and warm.

Synthetic or polyester tends to be bulkier than down but also performs better when wet. A women's winter parka is a common example of a work coat with synthetic or polyester-filled insulation that is durable, waterproof, and warm.

Ultimately, you’ll want to account for every type of job you’ll be performing in every type of weather when shopping for the right work coat. In fact, you may even need a couple of different work coats for different seasons or the type of work you do. Don’t forget to consider additional features like adjustable cuffs, pockets, and hoods as well, as those all play a role in your overall comfort.

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