In order to survive winter, at least for those folks who struggle with subzero temperatures at the season's peak, you need to be well-equipped. But before you go piling on layers uninformed, you might want to know the different types of winter-appropriate pieces of outerwear. We’ve picked eight styles of outerwear you should know, each of which is built with functionality in mind. Weigh the pros and cons of each before you pull the trigger on a pricey jacket.
Just trust us; you'll really regret getting the wrong one, especially if it doesn't keep you sufficiently warm.
Made by the Caribou Inuits to withstand arctic climates, the parka is a hooded garment that was originally made using caribou or seal skin. Today, the parka’s variations are more often seen with some kind of insulated filling and forgo the traditional animal skins for various kinds of woven fabrics. Anoraks, though also hooded, are slightly different and can be distinguished by their pullover style. That said, sometimes the term is used interchangeably.
Bomber jackets were originally produced during WWI for military pilots to withstand the frigid temperatures at altitude, a real concern especially considering the open cockpits of the day. Often, it would be made from leather and/or shearling and feature high collars, snug cuffs and hems. Today its iterations include the flight jacket (its original name) and varsity jacket, among others.
The overcoat category of outerwear has its many subsets, but in general, the style is longer, extending past the knees, is made from a heavy fabric such as melton wool and worn as the outermost layer, often over another lighter jacket. Topcoats, on the other hand, are made from lighter fabrics and do not extend beyond the knees.
Waxed canvas jackets are water-repellent, making them great for unsavory conditions (like snow or sleet or sludge, aka whatever it is you call what just fell from the sky). Flannel-lined options Flint and Tinder's flagship style offer the warmth you'd otherwise find in woolen or insulated jackets.
First invented during World War I, the trench coat replaced heavy serge jackets worn by soldiers. Both Burberry and Aquascutum lay claim to the coat’s invention and are still the go-to brands for the style. Early trench coats were made from khaki-colored cloth of either gabardine, twill, or poplin, and featured below-the-knee length, a double breast with 10 buttons, raglan sleeves, epaulets, a storm flap, buttoned pockets and a belt at the waist.
Today, the trench coat can be seen pared down and done up in various iterations. Perhaps the most distinguishing factors for the style are its cloth and length.
Eddie Bauer designed the first puffer, the Skyliner, in 1936 after he nearly froze to death on a fishing trip. Like sleeping bags, his padded jackets insulated the wearer, trapping in heat, and keeping them warm (and in Eddie's case alive). A few decades later the style made its way into the fashion sphere, courtesy of womenswear designer Norma Kamali (with her Sleeping Bag Coat) and luxury label Moncler (with its colorful Alpine coats).
Nowadays the style's everywhere: hidden in collab collections between Drake and Nike, worn like a uniform by British rappers, and trusted by every college-aged adult in America living on a campus where even the cold can't stop the party.
Down jackets come in all manner of forms and can even be seen in some the other styles on this list. Down originally was made using goose down feathers but are often seen today in synthetic materials such as polyester. Down jackets often are constructed in some sort of quilted or channeled stitching to keep the filling evenly spread throughout the coat as it can be prone to clumping without it.
The peacoat has origins with the Dutch — its name likely comes from the term pijjakker— and it became popular sailors from the Netherlands, Great Britain and the United States. Made from a dense and heavy, woolen fabric, the short jacket style features a wide lapel with an eight- or ten-button double breast front and hand pockets. It was cut short with a flared bottom to increase range of motion, vital for carrying out orders on deck. And, the wide lapel provided much-needed protection from the elements when stood up.Of course, the coat moved on from its naval roots in the 1800s but is just as functional today. Its common fare in your local surplus store, but there are just as many modern interpretations.