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?
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.
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.
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).
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.
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…
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.