Fashion & Beauty

Embrace the Cold

From left to right, a classic in camel from Reiss, a Herno svelte down puffer and Apparis’s faux fur topper.

By Janet Kelly

BUYING a winter coat is an investment, and the best ones provide a good return over the years, ensuring you look pulled together no matter what you’re wearing underneath.

According to an article in the February 2023 issue of Consumer Reports, natural down coats (filled with goose or duck feathers) are warmer than synthetics and hold up longer. From personal experience, I can attest that’s true. I’ve owned two “down” coats in the past 12 years, purchased several years apart. The first one I purchased was real down; the second buy was a synthetic, which I tossed because it didn’t keep out the cold—and also had a faulty zipper. As a Pittsburgh local shop owner—Roberta Weissburg commented recently—the real thing trumps the imitation most every time.

Speaking of real, brands like Aritzia and North Face offer coats with superior down insulation in the $300-$500 price range. You’ll pay a premium for Herno offerings that are more stylish and lighter but not quite as warm.

Admittedly, down coats don’t meet the needs of everyone for all occasions. If you spend your time  driving from one location to the next, you may not have the same requirements as someone who is consistently out in the elements. Down is sportier and more utilitarian than a trim wool topper, which may be more appropriate for an important meeting or a festive dinner out. If you want to be warm, too, look for styles with double-faced wool and a lining—or in cashmere, which will up the price considerably. Otherwise, add a layer of long underwear.

With real fur a no-no for many, the fashion industry has leapt onto the faux fur bandwagon. Apparis and Stand Studio offer a variety of oversize cuts and styles in a rainbow of colors that feel like you’re wearing a warm hug.

Choosing any coat depends on your lifestyle and, of course, your budget. One doesn’t fit every eventuality and need. Are you sensitive to the cold, do you want a statement coat à la Nicole Kidman in last year’s The Undoing, or do you just have to have a fun faux fur? Below, we look at some options:

If warmth and style are your objectives, North Face’s Metropolis Parka ticks those boxes with a 550 goose down fill rating (the range is from 300-900-plus), a detachable hood, water-repellent shell and slim fit, including a cinched-in waist. It rings in at $300.


Aritzia is the gold standard for puffer warmth. This jacket ($250), from their  Super Puff™ collection, is made with water-repellent and wind-resistant fabric and is filled with responsibly sourced, 700-plus fill-power goose down for great insulation from the cold.On the looser end of the scale for fit, it’s available in different lengths (shorty, bomber, midi and long), in addition to classic (above, which hits between high on the hip to below the rear). Choose from 50-plus colors.


Herno constructs this slim style with 200 grams of ultralight nylon and then injects the padding with super-fine goose down, making the coat lightweight and svelte. It’s $695.


Mango’s knee-length double-breasted coat, made with recycled wool, is generously cut (in fact, the site recommends you take one size down). For wintry blasts, layer a light turtleneck and even a fleece hoodie underneath. It sells for $229.99 and comes in camel, black and petrel blue colors as well as the green shown above.

What’s fun about Woolrich’s beet-colored check-pattern,coat, made from an Italian wool blend, is the fringe at the hem. Its price is reduced from $595 to $417 at Farfetch. For more subdued hues—cream and blue—you can find them at Woolrich for $595 each.


Barbour’s wool-blend, viscose-lined military-style coat ($520, Tuckernuck) is a classic cold-weather option that works for both casual and dressed-up occasions.

On the spendy side is British label Reiss’s belted coat in camel for $640. (It comes in turquoise for $446 and in pink for $382). The brand says it has upped the wool content on an earlier version to 63%, and instead of the traditional buttons, the coat wraps neatly around the body.


I love that this Apparis faux fur with its oversize hood comes in navy, which I think is far friendlier to older faces than black. Plus, it looks so darn cozy. It sells for $320, and it does come in black, as well as shocking pink, camel, white and beige.


This below-the-knee, button-up Kenca coat from Stand Studio is reversible, offering the choice of a smooth camel faux-suede or plush faux-shearling exterior (as shown). A shearling interior would be warmer! It’s sold out in this combination but is still available in green and black—on sale for $278 at Matches Fashion.

How would the quirkily stylish Kate Spade have worn this rich, plush, sublimely cozy faux fur jacket ($428, Nordstrom)? Yes, exactly —with a leopard skirt. Note: the buttons are only decorative; the jacket closes with hooks and eyes.


I’d have to give up a mortgage payment or more to afford this glamorous faux fur coat ($4,100, Moda Operandi) from design duo Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada. That said, I bet it would solve the problem of finding the one coat I’d want to wear over everything and keep me blissfully warm at the same time.


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6 thoughts on “Embrace the Cold

  1. Lois says:

    I’m not one to impulse buy. But I saw the write up on Apparis’s faux fur coat and bought it in expresso immediately. I love it! Thank you, Janet.

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Lois, I’m delighted to hear that. You’re so welcome!

  2. Nancy G says:

    Warmth is the biggest factor in my outerwear choices. I have down coats in knee length and mid-calf. On frigid days, it’s the mid-calf all the way. Most days it’s the knee length, but it’s not as dressy. Haven’t worn a cloth coat in at least a decade, although I keep a beautiful charcoal gray long one “just in case”. I wasn’t aware of the actual difference between real down and synthetic. I thought it was just an animal rights thing.

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Real down fill keeps you much warmer, then, say a puffer with polyester fill, which is less expensive. For eco-friendlier options, some brands sell coats with recycled goose and/or down feathers.
      I have an oversize black wool coat that looks good but is not at all warm. I bring out my old but gorgeous shearling when it’s really frigid.

  3. Thank you kindly, Janet, for the lovely mention above! It was a pleasure to speak with you about outerwear, and a great surprise to read this comprehensive article today.

    Stay “REAL” ! Best,

  4. Carol says:

    Oh if I only needed one (especially love the beet plaid) but during the frigid December I pulled out 5 winter coats that I haven’t had on in years, including my real fur that I love but really has to be freezing to wear. I mostly wear vests and scarves since only going from house to car to some store. Maybe gloves and a hat too. And I think I discovered number 6, a navy peacoat that I bought a million years ago now if we get a big snow storm…

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