PERHAPS I should have paid closer attention this fall when I noticed my favorite 14-year-old wearing a golden-colored fleece jacket— it almost matched her hair. She is kind of my barometer of what’s trending. Last summer, she was walking around in Crocs, sales of which grew a record 12 percent in 2020 and are expected to go much higher in 2021, according to a CNBC post yesterday. The Covid effect, reportedly. While I doubt I will ever set foot in Crocs, I can relate to fashion’s newfound appreciation for fleece, which is having its pandemic moment as well.
Often made from recycled plastic, fleece keeps you warm—a good thing in cold weather. It’s durable and moisture-resistant, plus it’s also lightweight and comfortable against your skin.
I suspect that fleece will have staying power post-pandemic. It’s no longer the dull green pullover you remember your office colleague wore endlessly in the late-90s or that sensible but lackluster layer you put on under your ski jacket. Even before the coronavirus hit, fitness and outdoorsy labels such as Patagonia and UnderArmour have been elevating fleece from simple sweatshirt styles to those with fresh shapes, colors and distinguishing details. With her fanciful jackets, designer Sandy Liang has singlehandedly made fleece fashionable.
As for me, it fits into my sweet spot of function combined with good looks. Want some examples? See below.
LEFT: When designer Sandy Liang launched her own label in 2014, the fashion crowd cheered, especially for the brand’s signature statement jackets. Her fluffy Seven Fleece jacket ($695, Shopbop) is a coat of only two colors and quite the splurge but charming with its gingham button placket and zippered patch pockets. The high collar will keep a neck coddled, and the reflective stripe on the back will make sure you’re noticed—in the dark. Wear with a taffeta skirt and combat boots or sneakers.
RIGHT: Made from a wool and polyester blend, this Teddy Fleece Overshirt ($135, Cos) is a go-to snuggly piece for tucking under a coat or to wear alone as a jacket during a January thaw.
LEFT: Although Everlane’s ReNew Fleece Raglan Sweatshirt ($48)—made from recycled plastic bottles— is available in black and oatmeal, this pale sage color is sooo cheery. An antidote to winter blues.
RIGHT: The Fjallraven brand, which means “arctic fox” in Swedish, is synonymous with durable, classic outdoor clothing, such as this forest-green Greenland Pile Fleece Jacket ($124.99, Zappos). Note the attention to details: the ribbed collar, hem and cuffs as well as the practical snap front pockets.
LEFT: Say no to drab while staying warm in this statement stoplight yellow and orange Sherpa Fleece Snap Pullover ($298), a wool-polyester-acrylic blend from Tory Burch’s Tory Sport division. A neutral beige bottom half with satin patch pocket and rope pull zipper is just the right amount of contrast.
RIGHT: We like the hood on UnderArmour’s new Hustle Fleece Hoodie ($44.99) almost as much as its Carolina blue color. For grown-up girls who are sporty and those who wanna look like they are.
LEFT: Outdoor Voices touts the fleece on its MegaFleece Bomber Jacket (reduced from $158 to $104) as its coziest fabric, a combo of 63% reclaimed wool, 24% nylon and 13% polyester. What’s new is the bomber silhouette. Bare midriff not encouraged.
RIGHT: Madewell’s corduroy-trimmed, boxy Sherpa Chestnut Jacket (reduced from $150 to $109.99) looks cuddly. Wear it with a sweater or instead of one.
LEFT: With a name like Denimist, you’d expect, well, denim, and you do see plenty of jeans (many distressed and ripped) on this newish brand’s website. But there are also baggy blazers and oversize coats, fleece jackets, sweaters and tops, styled with those jeans and accessories, such as long pearls, bucket hats, sunglasses and L.L. Bean duck boots. It’s a little old J. Crew and Ralph Lauren with a shot of old Kate Spade. This Fleece Jacket is $325 at Saks Fifth Avenue.
RIGHT: I’m a sucker for loden green, which we don’t see enough of these days. That’s one reason I’m attracted to Topo Designs’ plushy Sherpa Jacket ($149,Backcountry). Just the slightest bit cropped and boxy, it will play nicely with either a pencil skirt or high-waisted jeans.
LEFT: I turn to Sweaty Betty for workout leggings, which don’t sag and have a conveniently placed pocket to stash a key or tissue. But I’d be game to slip on this Escape Luxe Fleece Hoodie ($148), which comes in misty rose pink, light blue, gray, oatmeal and spring green. The relaxed-fitting hoodie with a curved hem is made from recycled cotton and offers more-than-adequate butt coverage.
RIGHT: This taupe Classic Retro-X Fleece Jacket ($199, Urban Outfitters) is an example of how Patagonia has gone from its original no-frills origins to bend to style with its pink trim and stand-up collar. Still, function and sustainability matter most. Cue the internal wind flap, moisture-wicking mesh lining and the material (100% polyester, 50% of which is recycled).