Buying outerwear for winter is a serious matter for us fashion conscious ladies. We want it to be warm, but not too heavy; stylish, but not too much to overpower us.
As better material and design are introduced in down jackets, puffer coats become more popular these days. But who should we buy from? How to choose a down coat? We will give you some tips here.
When choose an outerwear, we look at 3 things: 1. Performance 2. Quality and Style 3. Price.
First, performance comes from fabric and insulation.
Tip #1 : Look for Water Repellent fabric (W/R).
Water repellent(W/R) fabric is a must in my opinion. While you can’t expect a down coat to perform like outdoor rain coat, it should keep you comfortable in light rain or snow for 10-20 minutes. It should be able to dry fast. Water should slide down the fabric without making too much mark the first few minutes exposed to rain.
So look for products that mark their fabric with W/R (waterproof is better, but rare in down coats, I will explain in a different article). It’s a good feature, most brand will market it if they did it. If you are not sure, test it with water. See below a water repellent demo.
Insulation: down and synthetic.
90% of cases, down is far better than synthetic insulation. But there are different grades of down. Usually, 550 Fill Power (or 80%) and above can be called performance down. In casual wear (not for outdoor excursion) products, 650 Fill Power is more than enough. Performance down are much more expensive material. So, again, if they are used, they will be marked.
I will always choose performance grade down over a brand name. They are just more comfortable to wear and usually better styling. Because high grade down is softer and easy to make the coats fit better. Lower grade down contains harder feather pieces that’s easy to stick out.
Tip #3: Be smart about temperature rating. If you really don't know, ask them!
Then comes performance measure: temperature rating. This is the tricky part. Ratings are subjective. For example, the famous Canada Goose Kensington Coat is rated level 3 in their system, marked for -5F/15F. Based on my experience, it’s the same warmth as our Temperature Rating 5 Coats which we rated only for 10F/35F. Probably because they expect you to lay a lot under.
So, the idea is to use your experience and common sense:
- Within same company, especially the outerwear brands who take temperature rating seriously, the relative ratings are usually reliable.So, once you try out a brand, you get a sense of what their system is like. You can also ask them to bench mark against other brands. For example, I will tell you, our rated 5 coats are about same warmth as Canada Goose rated 3 coats, some are warmer than some of theirs because of the variation within one categories of rating. .
- To achieve same temperature rating, higher grade down jackets weight much less than the non-performance down filled jackets; Coats of same weight, the higher grade down gives much better performance; Same type of down, the more the warmer.
- Look at other buyer’s reviews.
Second key consideration, quality and style.
Tip #4: Look for quality: good workmanship, Good zipper, Storm cuff, and FIT
As like choosing any other clothing piece, good craftsmanship is a big fact. So, carry your experience here. On top of that, an outerwear is a SHELL outside our body. It alters your shape. It can amplify your nice feature hide your little imperfection. I always tell my customer, it’s all about the fit! Below, left is an Happy Goat Lucky Coat; right is a North Face coat.
Tip #5: know your body, find the right fit. Athlete or feminine?
While I have a lot of respect to our American outdoor brands, I think most of their coats are not that flattering. Because they are mostly athlete-fit: broader shoulder, bigger muscle, smaller hip. That is unlikely to change anytime soon.
What are features most highlight your feminine body? Form-fitting shoulder, snug fit arm, vase shape back. As we age, we might not have a flat tummy, but our back shape does not change that much, as long as we don't give up stand straight! These are fit consideration of our coats design.
So, apart from price consideration, choose the right fit for yourself and you will feel good about it!
Tip #6: HGL coats are good for average height women, also fit elegantly for petite woman!
As a petite woman myself, I never like to buy petite outerwear. I found them all fit ... en.. how to say it.... FUNNY. so, here I worked out the magic. While our models (5'9" and above), Tinsley (5'7") in the picture below all look nice in our coats, I made sure our coats also works for petite women!
Third consideration, price point.
Tip #7 Sports brand are usually true to their price, household fashion brands inflate their prices.
Mostly. Performance ¾ winter puffer are usually $250+; Fashionable, performance winter puffers usually have a higher price tag: $600+ with fur. Sports brands such as North Face alike are more truthful with their price. Fashion brands that customer-ed to inflate their price and then give deep discount very quickly. So, I don't usually pay attention to their original price.
I will write another blog "A day of puffer coat shopping" to elaborate more on what's out there on the market and what's their price point.
Finally, the bonus tip :) Happy Goat Lucky price is selling at discount right now. Yes, that's our marketing strategy: direct reach to customer!
Our brand, Happy Goat Lucky coats had been selling at $300+, $400-$600 with fur at regular price structure. Based on the ever changing market condition, we shifted focus to direct retail to bring our price to under $250. Lots of coats are on sale for under $200. Hope we can work out this new strategy will compensate our lack of marketing budget and build our direct reach to customer. So, more of buyers can enjoy the higher quality coats at more affordable price!
Finally, 2 charts of comparing the above mentioned coats in a nut shell! Hope you like them: