Whether your winters mean cold winds and drying air, dangerous cold, and buckets of snow, or days of cold, dreary rain, the right gear can make your life a lot more bearable. You need a winter coat that will suit you from morning chill to full noonday sun and back to cool air as the day darkens.
Beat the Cold
Down is a great product to help you beat the cold. Make sure that your down jacket has a water-resistant outer shell and a closure system that keeps out cold air. The whole point and biggest benefit of down jackets are that it will maintain a layer of air around your body, so once your body heat acts on the air, you’ll stay warm inside the coat.
Look for a down coat that includes a zipper and snap closure combination. The zipper will be the first “capture zone” of that warm air. The snaps will make sure that no cold air gets through the front of the coat. Look for a hood that you can remove on warmer days, and avoid hoods that don’t have a string tie or some other means of snugging up. Cold air blowing against your face and into your hood will eventually get inside the coat and defeat the work of the down layer.
If you’re already wearing a suit, look for a wool men’s overcoat to continue the classic look of a suit. While these topcoats can allow in a fair bit of air at the neck and wrist, adding gloves, a warm scarf over your chest and against your neck, and a hat to capture heat at the top of your head will keep you looking trim and professional while you fight the cold.
Be aware that most men’s overcoats have a vent at the back. If you have to get out in the extreme cold and find that this vent causes your legs to get especially chilled, consider adding thermal leggings or tights under your suit coat.
Stay Warm in Precipitation
Not everyone has to deal with sub-zero temperatures and mountains of snow. For many of us, winter means cold rain. When it’s cold and wet, even a little moisture on your skin can create a lot of misery. If you need a good raincoat and windbreaker, look for one that’s a bit oversized so you can layer under the rain jacket.
For example, if you’re planning a day of errands, walking, or even a long hike to stretch your legs, you could start with a knit tee shirt against your skin cover that with a hoodie, add a fleece jacket with a zipper, and cover that with your rain jacket.
There are a lot of cheap fleece products on the market, but you need a quality fleece that will capture heat against your skin and keep you warm no matter what the wind does. If you have low-quality fleece and you’re headed into the cold, strive to use the good stuff as close to the skin as possible.
A quick tip: If you find an oversized rain jacket that works, the hood will probably be oversized as well. For best visibility, add a baseball cap under the hood. The brim will keep the rain off your face and the hat will shape the hood so it won’t flop down on your face.
Enjoy a Little Fur
There are a lot of down coats on the market with fake fur around the hood. Over time, this fur can get matted. If your jacket is looking shoddy because the fur is clumped up, gently brush it to freshen it. Wash fake fur only when you really need to launder the coat. Even faux fur has a grain or natural flow. Brush your fur in that direction with a nylon bristle brush and a gentle touch.
Real fur trim on your jacket won’t need as much brushing, but it’s critical that you not wash this in your regular washing machine. You may need to interview a few dry cleaners to find someone who knows how to care for real fur.
Staying warm on cold winter days often takes a bit of planning. Do your best to hang your coat on a real hanger and keep it in the closet unless it has gotten damp. If the coat isn’t too long, draping it over the back of a chair where it can hang open is a great way to let the fabric breathe.