Buying a stylish, but functional winter coat: Tips to remember

Shearling can be fake or real. While both are warm, investment-category real shearling, with lamb- or poodle-looking fur, is wind and water-resistant.

Cons of real shearling:

  • Can stain and soil easily —  inspect after each wearing
  • Must be cleaned each season by a specialist
  • Should be stored in a cool, breathable environment

Down is, ounce for ounce, the warmest and lightest material. It is also the most compressible — and one of the most durable.

Cons:

  • It’s more expensive than poly-fill
  • It’s complicated to clean and very slow to dry
  • May trigger allergies: down is not entirely hypoallergenic.

Poly-fill and “puffer” coats are easy to care for, hypoallergenic and offer a wide range of options.

Cons:

  • Can be bulky to wear, won’t compact like down
  • Heavier than down
  • Breaks down over time

Wool and cashmere can be very warm, especially if lined. Both can be treated to be water-resistant — and provide a good barrier to cold and wind — but performance is specific to each coat. Cashmere is typically lighter and offers more mobility than basic wool.

Cons:

  • Wool can be heavy and bulky to wear and store
  • Can take on an odor when wet
  • May be a problem for sensitive or allergic people