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Women's Jackets Buying Guide
 

How to pick a Coat for Various Seasons!

A good winter coat is a great investment and with the proper care can last you many years. The trick is to find the best winter coat for your lifestyle. Whether you are looking for casual blazers for women or just browsing classic jackets for women, keep in mind body type, budget and function in mind.

 
 

Types of fabric:

WOOL: is an all-natural fiber that is shaved primarily from sheep and has existed since their domestication. Spun wool fabric was available to the general public long before silk or cotton, because these fabrics were considered very luxurious and reserved for the upper class. England quickly became central to wool production in the 1200's and fiercely protected the fabric throughout the subsequent centuries. For example, American colonies were only allowed to trade the fabric with England. Today, however, of the one billion sheep on the globe, only 30 million are in England as Australia, New Zealand and China have emerged as the majority produces in the market.

Wool is similar to fur, but has many unique characteristics including bends, or crimps in the fiber. The crimps tend to bunch together which results in a bulkier material that is a superior insulator. The crimps determine the quality of the wool, along with the fiber diameter, color and strength. The diameter of the fiber is the most important factor with a wool fiber that has a diameter less than 25 microns is considered suitable for garment use. Whereas thicker grades are used in household upholstery such as carpet or rugs.

Fine wool, like Merino, can have dozens of crimps per inch, while rougher wools typically only have a few. Wool fabric is able to stretch further than silk, cotton and many other natural fibers giving it the ability to retain its original shape after being stretched. It is a highly absorbent fabric, being able to retain almost 1/3 of its weight, flame retardant and doesn't build up static cling. These are a few reasons why boiled wool jackets and tweed jackets for women have remained a classic staple in women's outerwear.

Through years of improvements and selective breeding, over 60% of wool produced today is used for apparel production. Wool fabric works beautifully in shirts, pants, coats, hats and other winter accessories. Its soft feel and great features make this fabric a staple in the fashion industry, especially jackets for women. Needless to say, wool has come a long way since the itchy, oversized sweaters of the past.

Because of wool's many unique features (flame retardant, shape retention, resistance to static, drapability, etc.) it is used all year round, though most commonly in colder temperatures. Wool and wool blends are often found in winter jackets, men's suits, shirts, pants, hats and insulation layers. One of the most popular styles of wool is the classic boiled wool jacket.

For an insulation layer, meaning the layer that is next to the skin, the layer that regulates body temperature by wicking away perspiration, think about selecting a wool blend. Keeping dry helps the body regulate and maintain body temperature. A plus all year long.



MICROFLEECE: provides warmth for a variety of conditions. The fabric is characteristically lightweight, breathable and well insulated even when wet. It also has a tendency to dry faster and has a better warmth to weight ratio than wool. However, these beautiful jackets for women have one drawback, some fleeces are quite wind penetrable and often bulky as the fabric isn't as compactable compared to other fabrics.

There are three fleece weights that are pretty standard and readily available. Choose the lightweight variety for aerobic or mild temperatures, midweight for moderate activity or temperatures and what is often referred to as expedition-weight for mild activity and cold temperatures and climates. A good rule of thumb is to choose a fleece based on the probability of overheating, lightweight for lots of activity and a thicker fleece for colder conditions. No matter what weight you choose, these active jackets are great for a variety of functions, including layers for camping, hiking, errand running or simply getting cozy of a chilly evening.



 
 

 
 

Types of insulation:

DOWN: Often referred to as nature's best insulator, and with due cause. It is pound for pound the most warmth for the least weight. The one drawback, don't get it wet.



WATER-REPELLENT DOWN: Is down that is treated with a molecular-level polymer created to withstand light moisture. A small win for those who love down, but just don't get it soaked.



SYNTHETIC MATERIALS: Traditionally, most synthetic materials are quick drying, water repellent filaments that are engineered to imitate down and its low weight high compressibility. Down, typically, performs better than synthetics. However, with each new generation, synthetics are getting better and more reliable.



FLEECE: Fleece is a great piece for layering, but not for serious cold. This fabric is commonly worn as a middle, or insulating layer but as discussed above, can also serve as an outer layer.



OUTERWEAR

What will it be used for:

First and most importantly, what is the purpose of the jacket? What are all the possible functions of the jacket? Keep this in mind all throughout the buying process.



FEATURES: Take into account the pockets. How many are there and are the locations easily accessible for the need? What about the cuffs? Are they snug enough, how will gloves work with the cuff? Is there a waist cinching element such as a drawcord or belt? Make sure that the jackets closure fits the need. For example, if the jacket is going to be used to play in the snow, consider how high the zipper comes up on the neck. Or if the jacket will be used for more dressy occasions perhaps a simple button down closure will suffice.



FIT: If it is possible to try on several different sizes of the same jacket, do so. Keep in mind what layers will fit underneath it too. Move around in the jacket, raise your hands over your head, do the movements that will be required for the particular function of the jacket.



HOOD OR NO HOOD: This typically comes down to personal preference. A hood might alleviate those "where is my hat" moments, but hoods can also be bulky and uncomfortable, like when riding in a car for instance. For those times when your activities might include seriously chillier temperatures opt for a hood, perhaps one with fur (or faux fur) around the hood offers a big plus!



JACKET OR VEST: Again, it comes down to personal preference. Vests are often preferred by active high energy types that have a high tolerance for the cold and are looking to keep their core warm. A vest can also be used as a transition piece from fall to winter.






Use this guide to help you navigate the tricky waters of finding the best jacket. A great rule to always remember is to choose a jacket that best matches the activity and the temperature. Happy jacket finding!