If you're from the Midwest, you know that coats are much more than just a fashion accessory or the final piece to an outfit. When the weather turns chilly, you need to know how to balance fashion and function, because coats are as practical as they are necessary to a well-prepared wardrobe. With so many jackets, coats, shells, and fleeces in all different styles, colors, lengths, and weights — how's a girl to choose? To help you begin, we've selected our top three best coat picks for anyone trying to brave the cold in style.
During WWI, the US Army Aviation Clothing Board developed this jacket to keep pilots warm in open air cockpits of early fighter planes. Bomber jackets, also known as "flight jackets", continued to evolve in style over the years to come. For example, when plane cockpits became enclosed, and more riddled with technical equipment, the jackets became leather with knit cuff and bottom, to keep the cold air out of the sleeves. The bottom of the jacket was seated higher on the waist to stay out of the way of necessary operations within the cockpit. Eventually, most bomber jackets were fitted with a front zipper closure, as opposed to the typical button fastenings, and made from lighter materials suitable for spring/fall wear. Moving into the 1950's and beyond, we see bombers break into popular culture, after Hollywood icons such as Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando, and James Dean sported them on-screen.
Today they are still a popular style, still seen in movies, street style, and everyday life. You don't have to go out of your way to look good, just toss it over your longer tunic and the bomber will have your back. Though it wants to go head-to-head with those wind-whipping blizzards with the same energy as its ancestral fighter pilot garb, this jacket will do its best comfort work for you in fall and spring and in warmer climate locations during the winter months of November and December. Consider a short bomber jacket in a vibrant playful color to chase away the gray days of winter. They now can be down filled or otherwise insulated to add additional warmth to this classic look.
Wool coats of various lengths and styled were originally developed to withstand the harsh rain, wind, and cold temperatures encountered at sea. Many of these coats were double breasted and could be buttoned up completely to block the harsh elements. Most coats featured plastic or brass buttons with imprinted anchors on them. They could be shorter (peacoats) or longer (dress or car coat) styles. Fitted more snuggly at the waist they allowed the people wearing them to avoid entanglements in the riggings of early sailing ships.
Currently wool coats can be purchased with insulation or without. Even insulated, they are again best suited to warmer climates in the midst of the winter months, but can be highly functional in both spring and fall and even with additional layers added under them in colder winter climates. They still do a wonderful job of protecting the wearer from the elements while maintaining a classic look that can multitask with you during a variety of activities. Wool coats are essential for those more impressionable days. Whether it be a wool fit and flare or car coat, the look appreciates with time and care. It's the coat you carry out of the office and into the theater. It doesn't matter if you're fixing potholes or filing paperwork during the day, at night it's a wool coat that speaks on your behalf.
The word "parka" originates from the Arctic regions surrounding Russia and Alaska. Developing over the decades for people hunting in these regions, the parka is stable in extremely cold winter climates. Typical parkas are hip length and lined with either down, warm faux fur lining, or both. They are usually hooded to further protect the wearer from harsh winds and snow. The parka was refined and redesigned between the years of WWI and WWII for those exploring the outer reaches of the world, where harsh temperatures are common. Adventurers, scientists, traders, and documentarians alike appreciated the warmth and protection from the harsh elements.
While its purpose and function anticipate winter's gloom, you'll notice that the highest quality parkas are rarely taking breaks once that first real storm rolls in. The parka is a sign of the adventurer, it's the companion for turbulent weather and impromptu decisions. We have never given winter permission to slow us down, so with a Lands' End parka, don't let winter assume where you may go. Make your own trails!