Dress Code

Five Ways To Wear A Down Jacket

How to stay warm without looking like the Michelin Man this winter

One of the great tragedies of adult life is that, no matter how cold it gets, you can’t leave the house wrapped in your duvet. People will stare. There is, however, a simple and widely available solution to this problem, and it’s known as the down jacket. Combining the tog rating of a winter eiderdown with the sleeves, pockets, zips and other key features of a coat, these garments provide us with a socially appropriate way of indulging our innate mammalian hibernation instinct while commuting to work, doing the shopping or any of the other activities expected of an adult human, rather than a squirrel, bear or hedgehog.

And the best thing of all? They look good. Dressing for winter can often seem like an exercise in prioritising function over form as we pile on layer upon layer in a struggle to beat the chill. But with a good down jacket in your wardrobe, you shouldn’t have to choose. You can have both. All that’s required is a little judicious shopping, a sharp eye for colour and silhouette, and a willingness to try something new. The following guide, in which we break down five looks built around a down jacket, should set you on the right course.

01. DRESSED DOWN

What springs to mind when you hear the words “down jacket”? If you’re picturing something made of brightly coloured polyester, then this winter-ready, retro-sporty corduroy varsity jacket from nanamica might be something of a revelation to you. Yes, it turns out that you can stuff pretty much anything with down. We’ve added cuffed chinosDr. Martens and a ribbed sweater for a smart weekend-in-the-city outfit that won’t leave you shivering as you stand in a queue at the Sunday farmers’ market.

02. DOWN TIME

Down jackets come into their own on a long winter’s hike, when their lightweight qualities make for a versatile layer to throw on or strip off and stuff in your bag according to the whims of the elements. Rab’s Microlight Alpine jacket has the added benefit of being bright, which makes you much easier to spot should you get lost in the fog, plus it’s coated with a water-resistant DWR finish to protect you from light showers. If it really starts to tip it down, we recommend adding a hard-shell jacket over the top. Hiking boots from On and trousers from cult Yosemite climbing brand Gramicci complete this ready-for-anything look.

03. DOWN HILL

Hitting the slopes this winter? Remember that your ski jacketsalopettes and boots are but half of the required inventory. To be fully prepared, you need to consider what to wear during the all-important après, too. For that, we turn to – who else? – Moncler. The Italian down specialist is to upmarket Alpine ski resorts what Nike is to athlete training camps. It’s easier to count the number of people who aren’t rocking one of the brand’s distinctive logo patches on their sleeve. Little wonder, when its jackets offer an unbeatable combination of brand cachet and thermal performance. This bright blue version of the brand’s Bramant jacket is sure to keep you warm while you sip gluhwein on the balcony of the chalet. Just be careful not to splash any on those lovely white corduroy trousers.

04. DOWN TOWN

Smart office dress codes tend to go out the window during a cold snap, especially on the commute. And why shouldn’t they? It’s understandable that people would choose to relax their usual sartorial standards in order to stay warm. Ah, but haven’t you heard? With Dries Van Noten’s padded coat, there’s no need to sacrifice one for the other. Cut for a roomy silhouette, it’s the ideal shape for wearing over a suit, while the woollen padding provides the insulating properties of a more substantial parka without leaving you looking like an Antarctic research scientist. For a little extra warmth, we’ve partnered it here with a flannel shirt from Charvet.

05. DOWN WITH THE KIDS

How does the trend-conscious man stay warm during winter? Function and high fashion aren’t known for working in harmony, but that doesn’t mean they’re mutually exclusive. This remarkable silver down jacket from AMBUSH® – a sci-fi spacesuit or oven-ready turkey, depending on your perspective – is a case in point. It should be pointed out that highly reflective materials offer excellent thermal insulation because they reflect radiated heat back towards the body. As to the question of how to wear it, if you’re bold enough to give this one a try, you may as well go all out elsewhere. We’ve paired it here with tie-dye, leopard print and red-laced hiking boots. Subtlety be damned.

We’ve got this down

  • nanamica Quilted Nylon-Ripstop Down Jacket

  • Prada Quilted Shell Down Jacket

  • Human Made Printed Quilted Corduroy Down Jacket

  • Herno Laminar GORE-TEX INFINIUM Hooded Down Jacket

  • Sasquatchfabrix. Quilted Shell Down Coat

  • Ten C Shearling-Trimmed Quilted Shell Down Liner