Jackets Are Not Just For Protection
Jackets can add a finishing touch to an outfit or stand alone as a statement piece. They can also protect you from wind and rain. Some, like REI’s Stormhenge 850, offer insulated shell performance with premium 850-fill power down and waterproof fabric with taped seams.
Whether you’re going for the classic cotton zipped Harrington jacket or a more sleek take on this style, it’s easy to find a jacket to suit your personal taste and needs.
While coats are more protective, jackets are a fashionable little sister. From a cotton zipped hoodie from Supreme to the Kent jacket by Canada Goose, jackets dress up jeans and Doc Martens or add sleekness to pressed slacks and seersucker button-downs. They’re also perfect for that transitional time from fall to winter, when a heavy coat is too warm and a leather jacket just too formal.
Unlike suit jackets or blazers, which are matched with trousers made from the same exact swatch of fabric, jackets can be paired with pants in a variety of fabrics, including denim and corduroy. They can even be worn over a light shirt or dress, providing protection from cold temperatures and wind.
A jacket’s outer shell is often woven from cotton, wool, linen, or a combination of these materials. It may be a solid color or feature a print. The fabric is then treated with a water-resistant finish to prevent rain or snow from seeping through the outer layer. The seams are then stitched, either manually or by machine. This process can take up to three weeks.
Once the jacket is constructed, the tailor sews the lining into place. The lining has tiny holes in it large enough to let humidity escape but small enough to keep rain droplets and wind out. Then the filling is inserted between the lining jackets and the outer shell, typically either feathers or synthetic down. The filling provides insulation and is usually made from the highest quality of natural or artificial materials.
Finally, the jacket is ready for retail. It will be presented to merchants, who choose the styles they want to sell to consumers. This process is influenced by a number of factors beyond the control of Alizee’s team, including strikes, weather, customs and rail or road transport once it arrives in Canada.
Insulation refers to the material used in a jacket to keep you warm. It can be either down feathers, synthetic fleece, or other types of insulating materials. Jackets that use down are generally lighter and warmer than those using synthetic insulation. They may require special care when washed, and you can read more about that here.
Jackets that are insulated with a combination of down and synthetic fibers offer the best of both worlds. These are referred to as hybrid fills. The down portion of the insulation offers warmth when it’s cold and dry, while the synthetics prevent moisture from building up if you’re active in wet weather.
The jacket shell is the outer layer that protects you from rain, sleet, and snow. It can vary from a heavy, impermeable rubber shell to a light, breathable softshell fabric like Gore-Tex or eVent. A waterproof membrane is often incorporated into the jacket to increase its ability to fend off heavy winter precipitation.
Once the jacket’s shell and lining are finished, the tailor adds the insulation. Initially the insulation is pinned to the fabric layers and then cut out with electric scissors that maneuver much like a jigsaw. The layers are then stitched together, either manually or through an automatic machine. The result is two jackets sewn together, an inner insulated jacket and a windbreaker. A good tailor will take the time to ensure the seams are sealed. If they aren’t, the insulation can leak out and lose its thermal properties. This is a big reason why many high-quality winter jackets have hand-stitched seams.
A jacket’s primary job is to protect you from the weather. If wind or precipitation gets into an insulated jacket, you can quickly develop hypothermia. To keep out moisture, an insulated jacket must be waterproof. Typically, this is accomplished by using a waterproof breathable fabric such as Gore-Tex or eVent. This material allows moisture to escape from the body without letting in water or cold air.
An insulated jacket can also be made from down or synthetic insulation. The latter is generally more expensive than down, but it offers greater durability and has a lower environmental impact. Synthetic insulation consists of polyester fibers that mimic the structure of down clusters, and it retains warmth even when wet. It’s also a good choice for people who like to wear their winter jackets while participating in physical activity because it dries much faster than down.
Whether you opt for down or synthetic, your jacket should have a fill rating that indicates how warm it will be. The higher the rating, the warmer it will be. If you choose a down coat, look for one that has been treated with a high-quality durable water repellant such as Mountain Hardwear’s Q Shield down or Rab’s Nikwax Down. This will help the feathers resist moisture and water so that your jacket can remain dry even when exposed to rain or snow.
Many insulated jackets come with adjustment features, such as draw cords in the hood and at the waist to adjust the fit and wrist cuffs to seal out cold air and prevent drafts. You should also look for a lining that wicks away sweat and keeps you warm as it evaporates.
Most jackets have multiple pockets to accommodate a variety of items. In addition to the standard welt pocket, which is accessible from the front, most have a side flap pocket, which is often referred to as a jetted pocket, and is accessible from the outside of the garment. These are more common in casual outer coats, such as the balmacaan and pea coat, but may also be found on more formal jackets, including lounge suits and blazers.
The most simple of these pockets are patch pockets, which are simply pieces of jackets fabric sewn on the outside surface of a jacket. Typically, these are made from the same fabric as the jacket itself, so they look as if they are an integral part of the jacket’s construction.
Flap pockets have a somewhat more formal look, and tend to be used on hunting or three-button hacking jackets. They are also seen on business suit jackets, as a nod to their classic roots. A variant on this is the barchetta pocket, which displays a bit of rakish sprezzatura.
Both jetted and flap pockets are often lined with the same fabric as the jacket, so that they are more durable and look finished. In fact, it is a good idea to line all your pockets, as this will prolong their life and prevent them from stretching out of shape over time.
When stitching your pockets, be careful to use the proper techniques and not stretch out the lining as this will affect the integrity of the pocket. Also, when sewing the lining to the welt, make sure that you do not leave any gaps in the seam, as this will allow water or other items to leak into the jacket.
Jackets are meant to protect us from the elements. Whether it’s rain, snow or wind, we need a jacket that covers us from the cold and keeps out moisture. But it also needs to be tailored to the wearer’s body type, and that’s where the length of the jacket becomes important. A proper jacket is not too long or short, but should be a comfortable fit. A well fitted jacket is also flattering and enhances the wearer’s physique.
A good rule of thumb is that the longer the jacket, the more formal it’s going to be. This is true for suit jackets as well as overcoats and tailcoats. Jackets that are intended to be worn casually are typically shorter, but still provide adequate weather protection.
For men’s jackets, there are a variety of lengths available, from waist-length to thigh-length. Many brands will also classify their products into regular, loose and slim fits. However, those classifications don’t always go hand-in-hand with the length of the jacket.
Sleeve length is particularly important, as it’s the only part of a jacket that will be touching your skin. If the sleeves are too short, they won’t do a good job of keeping out the cold and moisture. On the other hand, if they are too long, they will ride up on the shoulders.
The best way to get the perfect length for your jacket is to measure yourself with a tape measure. With the jacket flat on a table, stand in a natural posture and measure from the top of your shoulder down to where you want the hem of your jacket to end. You can then compare this measurement to the jacket sizing guides provided by the product’s brand/store.