How much do you know about your favorite fleece jacket other than it’s great at keeping you warm and flexible while tailgating at a football game in the dead of winter? From jackets and coats to sweaters and throws, fleece is always there keeping you warm during the coldest moments. It’s important to know its origin and to understand when a fleece will work for you, as well as when it won’t. Read on to learn a little more about how your most trusted fabric became the go-to staple of winter.
Would you believe us if we told you that fleece was originally designed to mimic wool? Lucky for you, the first fleece frontiers of the late 1970s were visionaries who saw the advantage of having an outerwear option that not only offered the same overall warmth of wool but also saw the value in a soft, comfortable (and itch-free) fabric as well. Throw in a moisture-wicking ability and the appeal of a machine-washable fabric and it was only a matter of time before this soft, light, and durable fleece became everyone’s must-have winter wardrobe essential.
By the early 1980s, you couldn’t step foot (or ski) on the slopes of the Northeast without seeing a women’s fleece coat or men’s fleece jacket swishing past. Fleece had the corner on the burgeoning sportswear market and the textile industry worked tirelessly to build performance into America’s newest favorite fabric. Adventure seekers loved the lightweight feel of the fabric and the bright colors and affordable price only helped build its popularity. Soon fleece wasn’t just for thrill-seekers. Nope, fleece coats and jackets were on the verge of trendy. And everyone knows that when you become a trend there’s no place you’re not welcomed.
By the 1990s fleece was more than just jackets – it was everything. Fleece had made its way out of the cold and into the home by way of fleece throw and into your everyday wardrobe in the form of fleece vests, fleece tunics and fleece pajamas and pants. Even the dogs were cuddling up to fleece dog beds and fleece-lined pet jackets. Essentially, by the turn of the century the fleece genie was officially out of the bottle and there was no way she was going back in. Fleece had become more than just a replacement for itchy wool sweaters on cold days. It was now synonymous with cold-weather comfort. And that was something everyone could get on board with.
So, if you’re wondering if fleece jackets are good for winter, the answer is yes and no. You see, different kinds of jackets have different functions. Yes, fleece jackets are incredibly warm and soft–the main purpose of fleece is for insulation. However, fleece is not waterproof or windproof, by itself. So, if you’re planning on hitting the slopes, or taking a walk in the rain, you might need a waterproof jacket to go over the top of your plain fleece. But, you can buy windstopper fleeces as well as rain jackets that are fleece-lined, but they do not pack as compactly as a regular fleece.
Fleece is here to stay, and so it’s important to know how to style it. If you buy a fleece jacket in a neutral color, you can wear it everywhere from skiing to walking down the street. Fleece can be paired with jeans, leggings, and snow pants. Sometimes, people even throw a fleece over fancier attire if it means staying warm. It’s probably not appropriate for a black-tie event, but it could go most other places, comfortably.
It’s not just jackets too! As mentioned, fleece can be made into so many things including sweaters, vests, even rain jackets–for added warmth. So, if you’re wearing a fleece sweater, it would pair great with jeans or leggings and a pair of boots or ankle boots. You’ll look great and be so cozy!
The fleece craze of the ’90s may have calmed down a bit, but the fabric itself is still going strong. At Lands’ End you’ll find that we love incorporating the warmth and versatility of fleece into so many of our products. After all, its breathability is great for adding an extra layer of warmth in select winter coats. Or keeping you warm on your walks, wearing a fleece quarter-zip over your favorite long-sleeved top. Trust us, coming from Wisconsin cold, we know how much you depend on fleece to get you through the winter. That’s exactly why we promise to continue bringing you the best fleece has to offer to help make your life warmer, smoother and comfier.
Embrace the warmth of fleece this winter and stock up on your favorite fleece must-haves today.