What a performance (coat)!

There comes a time in every woman’s life (usually around the time she reproduces and begins to spend seemingly limitless amounts of time freezing her tits off at the playground) when she succumbs to the lure of the ‘performance coat’. She no longer makes Zara her first port of call when seeking outerwear and instead finds herself feeling slightly lost in her local branch of Blacks.

This rite of passage came to me slightly later than most. I had my first child almost four years ago but have spent the ensuing winters valiantly trying to convince myself that a leather jacket over a cashmere v-neck and a pair of wristwarmers will suffice. Well, guess what? It won’t. And so this year I found myself searching for my very first performance coat. That’s right, a clothing decision made for the sake of function, not aesthetics. Who’d have thunk it?

The also-rans

There were a few contenders. First off, I considered the Lands’ End Shimmer Down Parka (currently available here for a very reasonable £105). I really liked this one – the burgundy colour is lovely and its got a good furry hood, plus I’ve heard its very warm – but eventually discounted it due to the lack of a belt. An hourglass shape in a padded coat can easily look rectangular.

shimmer down

A few friends bought the Aigle Cuckmere last winter and I really loved the look (and the reports that it was incredibly warm and cosy). Unfortunately it uses real fur on the hood and while I have very few principles, fur is a non-negotiable thing for me. I did find a version without the trim in my local department store but it looked too plain without the furry hood so I left it there.Aigle_Cuckmere_Ebene

The last coat I considered was the North Face Arctic Parka as it is widely known as the sport-spectating mother’s coat of choice. However as I feared with the Lands’ End it did my figure no favours whatsoever. Shame as the merlot colour was really lovely (see, I’m all about function).9163-merlot-red_enlarged

The (eventual) winner

I’d liked the Barbour Arctic Parka for a couple of years but had refrained due to the limited colour choice (black (ok, but my work coat is black), stone (corpse) or olive (nauseous corpse)) but this winter they’ve done it in my very favourite navy, with a gorgeous grey fur trim and silver hardware. Don’t mind if I do.

Barbour have also taken the decision to substitute feather down for a high tech synthetic alternative. This means you can subject your coat to more extreme conditions ( i.e. pouring rain) without fear of the filling getting sodden and clumping. I ordered online from Cavells (more to come on them in a forthcoming post) and sized up to a 12, having tried it on in store. My coat was with me in a couple of days, beautifully wrapped, and I’m glad I sized up as while I probably could have got away with a 10, it wouldn’t allow for many layers.Barbour

The verdict

I absolutely LOVE it. It only arrived on Thursday but it has already been subjected to several downpours and come out the other side. It keeps me toasty warm and unlike a lot of coats of its ilk, looks really sharp and stylish too. The hood fits closely over my head, meaning it doesn’t blow off in the wind and the fur is really soft. All in all, I’m as happy a pig in the proverbial.

A few photos ensued…

Hood down:
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Hood up:
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From the side:
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Gratuitous selfie:
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Editor’s note:
Thanks to everyone who bore with me through the utter tedium that was the decision-making process. I promise never to talk about levels of down-fill ever again.

Also, I am not a ghost – it was just really sunny (perfect to showcase an all-weather coat) and I’m not wearing any make-up.

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5 thoughts on “What a performance (coat)!

  1. You look great in yours. I thought it might come up bigger but it doesn’t and gives you a nice waist. Good call. I however have gone down the South Park route and have a parka with a hood even bigger than yours. And yes it’s hard when you finally realise that you have to give in to the call of the motherhood and succumb to a weather defying parka. Be warned, you have taken your first step on the comfort clothing ladder. I know, I’m nearly at the top.

  2. Oh I hope you have more luck than I did with this coat! I have the Olive green one and the stitching came undone along the quilting all down the arms, Barbour replaced it after about a month of arguing with them over the quality, I was very disappointed with their customer service and didn’t expect the coat to wear so badly so quickly. I love the coat, its so warm but tbh its already starting to go again, not what I expect for the price and the brand name. Hope yours lasts better than mine as it looks gorgeous on you in the pis! S x

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