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Parka vs. wool coat — If I can only buy one, which should it be?

You need a winter coat. You’d love a parka and a wool coat, however your budget seems to disagree. Since there will be only one winter coat in your foreseeable future, it is important that you choose wisely. Grab your thinking pad and take a few notes. By the end of this savvy shopper’s guide, your chicken scratch will enable you to purchase the coat that is right for you. Buyer’s remorse not included.

Parkas and wool coats are both considered to be among the best options in winter outerwear. How do they match up when compared side by side? It’s time for a bit of honest comparing and contrasting of the two.

Wool coats:

Unlike parkas, wool coats generally button up, and have two to four small shallow pockets. Wool coats also have an oversized collar that is either worn up or folded down, creating a wide neck opening that is perfect for displaying your favorite winter scarf. A wool coat is an absolutely timeless piece of outerwear, adding a touch of style to any look. That is because wool coats can be dressed up or down to meet the needs of any occasion. They can also be worn in all three seasons. However, wool coats do very little to protect you from the elements since they often do not have hoods. They truly do very little to shield you from the frigid waters and icy winds of winter.

Parkas:

Unlike most wool coats, parkas usually zip and also have flap to protect the zipper. This is called a storm flap, because it stops the wind from creeping in through the zipper teeth. Probably the most beloved feature offered by parkas: an abundance of deep pockets designed with specific purposes in mind. Most have a zipper to ensure nothing falls out. Another handy design feature is that parkas can zip and button or snap up completely, creating a turtleneck-like neckline to shield your face from the winter wind. The collar can also be unzipped and folded down, opening the neckline enough to allow your scarf to peek out. Many are offered in a 3-in-1 option, making them useful in fall, winter, spring, and even on chilly summer nights. The hood and outer shell are most often both water- and windproof to protect you from anything Mother Nature throws your way. The downfall of all those cool features: a parka will not pass as a dress coat. Period. But when temps dip into the single digits, who really cares?

MVP or VIP:

If you are looking for the MVP, look for a winter parka. You’ll see sports journalists wearing them as they interview football players on frozen fields, trainers draping runners with them as they cross sleet covered finish lines, and golfers using them as shields from blustery sea breezes. I mean, even professional rodeo cowboys wear these bad boys, and those guys know tough when they see it. However, if you’re in the market for a coat that is more VIP than MVP none of that is going to matter to you. What you need is a coat that will prove to be a timeless investment. You’re looking to add a classic piece of outerwear to your winter wardrobe. Clearly, a wool coat is the best option for you. Wool coats have proven themselves as the outerwear luxury that never goes out of style.

Adding warmth to wool:

When properly thought out, a wool coat can provide you with extra warmth. As you dress for the day, building your outfit around cold weather layering tops that keep your core cozy will be an essential step. Plus, you will have to accessorize your wool coat with at least a winter hat and scarf. Pro tip: Long underwear may prove to be a worthwhile investment if a wool coat is your only winter coat.

Wants vs. needs:

Just like they taught you in kindergarten, make sure your needs are met before your wants are taken into consideration when faced with a making decision. In this case, choosing a winter parka or a wool coat will come down to what you need for the lifestyle you live. For example, will you be you walking into freezing rain, blizzards, and subzero temperatures this winter? You’ll need a parka for that. Or is style and versatility important to you during the mild winters outside your door? If that’s the case, you need a wool coat.

 
 

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