I'm cold. Where can I find an elegant coat?

I don’t want to wear my old fur coat anymore, and even shearling doesn’t look good on me, but I’ve always avoided down jackets because t...



As death and taxes are absolute certainties for life, so is the fact that if there was once a garment that was considered absolutely outdated, fashion will rediscover it and find a way to make it chic. Example: the down jacket.

Its revival has been happening for a while now, but as more and more brands are ditching fur (Dolce & Gabbana is the latest), it’s perhaps the most cutting-edge alternative. Which means it’s time to revisit any prejudice against puffy stuff.

As Ikram Goldman, owner of Ikram, Chicago’s go-to boutique for the city’s power dressers, said when I asked her what she thought of the garment: “I only wear a puffer jacket, and I love it.”

After all, today’s push-ups aren’t your grandmother’s push-ups. Indeed, these aren’t even the puffers you might remember from tobogganing adventures when you were a kid. They are often ultralight – a bit like wearing a hot tub – and streamlined.

Virtually every designer has tried it, including Demna, who arguably started the current trend with his first Balenciaga collection, and Kanye West, whose Yeezy x Gap version was the first product to emerge from this collaboration (and is still one of only two) – while it doesn’t have closures, it probably isn’t the answer for you.

The Moncler Genius program, in which the company uses an array of high fashion names to reinvent its outerwear, has attracted Rick Owens, Simone Rocha, Jonathan Anderson, Craig Green, Pierpaolo Piccioli and Kei Ninomiya of Noir, for to name a few.

And this is not an entirely new phenomenon. Eddie Bauer is widely regarded as the father of the ready-to-wear down jacket, having invented a quilt insulated garment in 1936 after he nearly died on a fishing trip. (It was later licensed by the Air Force and called “the Skyliner.”) A year later, however, fashion designer Charles James created the “air jacketa sinuous quilted satin puffer jacket that was probably the first example of haute couture.

Then there’s the Norma Kamali sleeping bag coat, one of the definitive fashion pieces from 1973 and still relevant today. (When the great fashion editor André Leon Talley passed away recently, a lot of his obituaries included a photo of him in his precious cherry red Kamali sleeping bag coat.).

Prices range from the very affordable (“I’m obsessed with this pump from Costcosaid Ikram) to very high-end, and styles ranging from basic to urban outdoors. But some couture details – collars and hoods framing the face; a narrower cut at the shoulders; pockets that go beyond utility – make the difference between a coat that looks like it’s ready for a trip to Everest and one that looks ready for an urban summit.

Check out this portrait collar jacket from sweet herdthat offers both ethical production and price transparency, and this one with its funnel neck and carefully placed pockets of Manière to see. Or experiment with a variety of styles of Rent the track until you find your comfort zone. This way you get all the style and zero commitment.

Every week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a reader’s fashion question, which you can send her anytime via E-mail Where Twitter. Questions are edited and condensed.



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