The right outerwear keeps us cozy—through spring rainstorms, cool summer evenings, crisp fall days, and freezing winters. Here are some tips on how to keep your outerwear in its best shape so it can keep you comfortable year-round.
The first step in caring for your outerwear is to buy good quality outerwear that fits your current curves. Whether you are an aspiring minimalist who loves the perfect capsule wardrobe or just want to be comfortable and look great when you throw on a wrap, quality and fit are key.
Consider the outerwear's fabric content. Is it waterproof if you need it to be, easy to launder, soft and comfy, practical for travel? What about the fit? Are you petite, plus, or tall? If a tall women’s coat is what you need, seek one out. If you are petite, don’t pretend that those too-long sleeves will look good on you. We all deserve good quality clothes that make us look and feel great now.
Check the details. Do the zippers zip easily? Do the buttons fasten, right? Can you move comfortably? Practice reaching and moving around when you have the garment on and fully zipped and buttoned. What accessories will you need to wear with it to brave the elements? Do you have them already, or do they need to go on your shopping list? Make sure to try on your outerwear in front of a full-length mirror and do a quick spin to see how it looks from all sides. The right outerwear should insulate you and look stylish, too.
Keeping your outerwear fresh and clean will not only make sure that it looks good when you want to wear it, but it will also extend the life of the garment. The most important thing is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. For example, a women’s wool coat typically needs to be dry-cleaned. If a tag states “dry clean only,” don’t try another method; hire a professional. However, if the instructions allow for machine laundering, you are usually best off using a gentle detergent and cold water for the washing machine.
The dryer is typically where you need to be extra careful with outerwear. Most down coats can go through the dryer. Lower heat is almost always better in dryers, and the down will have lost its loft by getting wet, so put a clean tennis ball in the dryer to fluff it back up as it tumbles. Dryers can be tough on women’s fleece jackets because the friction and heat in a dryer can make the fleece pill. For best results with fleece, launder it by itself or only with other fleece and zip all zippers prior to washing. Either hang it to dry or dry it on the dryer's lowest setting for a minimal amount of time and then place the jacket on a hanger to finish drying. You will want that wonderfully soft fleece to stay that way for years to come.
Take good care of your outerwear when you travel, too. A structured coat like a wool or twill topcoat will need to be carried carefully or travel in a garment bag on a good-quality hanger. Casual coats like down or fleece are more flexible, but if you put them in a carry-on or suitcase, make sure that there aren’t any objects nearby that could snag the fabric. A handy way to pack mittens or gloves is to place the right one in the right pocket and the left one in the left pocket for easy access.
At the end of the season, you will want to make sure that your outerwear is clean and stored properly so you can enjoy it again next year. Tips for storing your outerwear include hanging coats and jackets on good-quality hangers (wood is ideal) with the zippers zipped and buttons fastened. This will give them the support that they need. Don’t crush any of the fabric by stuffing your closets too full. Try to give your outerwear a bit of breathing room. Avoid heat and moisture to protect the fabric (i.e., no basement or attic storage).
Make sure to clean all hats, gloves, and mittens before putting them away for the season, and make sure that you have mates for all the gloves. Store them near the coats or jackets that you will wear them with so that when the weather changes you can “suit up” easily for the cold. Make sure that your women’s winter boots are clean and stored so they will retain their shape.
With a bit of care, your outerwear will keep you cozy and stylish for years to come.