On outerwear

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 9.40.35 AM.pngI have recently found myself in need of a new winter coat.  I was not aware of how particular I was on what constituted a “winter coat” until going through this process just now.  Complicating things: I need a new winter coat because, as someone who has spent most of the last several months sitting on my ass and/or battling depression, I am probably as fat as I have ever been in my life– fat enough that I am legitimately frightened to get on my scale and find out how bad it is.

So not only do I need a new coat, I need what is euphemistically called a “Big and Tall” coat.  I’ll say the same thing here that I say whenever I have to use that phrase: I have never seen a tall guy in the local fat man store.  Only motherfuckers who make me look skinny.  As someone who is currently most comfortable in XXXL shirts and 38″x29″ pants, I am one of the smallest people in that place.

My current winter coats (I have two; a nice leather coat that falls down a bit in the “warm” department and what I refer to as my Beast Coat) fit fine with a T-shirt underneath them, but they’re winter wear.  They’re supposed to be worn over layers.  If I’m wearing more than a T-shirt, my range of motion gets really constricted in the leather coat (which is cut like a sport coat) and the Beast Coat gets difficult to zip.

The Beast Coat is the type of coat where if you don’t need to be zipping it up, you probably ought not to have it on.  You may recall that the last few years have featured Polar Vortices and -50° temperatures.  Yesterday was the first subzero day of the year, but there will be more.

I actually ended up ordering my coat– that’s it, up there, although mine’s black– from Amazon, which may or may not have been a wise decision but will keep me from having to leave the house.  I learned some things along the way.  Here are some important facts about winter coats that you should know:

  • There is no such thing as a “winter jacket.”  Jackets are worn during fall and spring.  If you can describe something as a “winter jacket,” it’s not really winter.  I don’t care if it’s January and the northern hemisphere.  It ain’t winter.  The jury is still out on the phrase “heavy-duty jacket;” I picture such a garment as something to be worn on a shit-ass driving rainstorm sort of day, but not when it’s thirty below.
  • Again, winter clothing is supposed to be worn layered.  So an XXL winter coat needs to be a winter coat that fits an XXL torso wearing an XXL t-shirt and probably an XXL hoodie or sweater, too.  In other words, they should wear big compared to what’s written on the label.  A winter coat should be able to zip and/or button (preferably both) over several layers of clothing, at least one of those layers being thick on its own.  I see reviews complaining that things are wearing larger than their size claims. Yes, Texas, they are.  They’re supposed to.
  • Reviews of winter clothing of all types should be required by law to include where the silly sumbitch doing the review lives.  The garment above claims to be “Arctic Quilt Lined” and many of the reviewers mentioned being sweaty when they took it off.  I see this as a good sign.  But if I’m buying a winter coat I want to see reviews from motherfuckers in North Dakota or Minnesota or Chicago.  I want people who know cold reviewing these things.  If you live in California I give no shits about your opinion of winterwear and I should be able to filter your nonsense out.
  • Per BunKaryudo in the comments: I also want a section for what the reviewer does for a living.  Do you work outside?  I wanna know your opinion about winter coats.  If you just need to wear the thing to get from your car to your office, hell, I can make that trip in a hoodie and be OK.
  • This is more of a specific gripe about that coat, but winter coats should have hoods.  That one actually does, but it’s a snap-on and a separate purchase.  I don’t mind so much because Carhartt’s shit is basically indestructible and I’ll get more than my money’s worth out of the thing even with the extra expense.  But it should have been included.   No one who needs something that is “Arctic Quilt Lined” doesn’t need a hood.
  • If you are asking questions like “Is it okay to wear XXX type of pants with this coat” you need to go lie down or something.  If you are actually in need of a winter coat you are not worrying about how you look in it.  You are worrying about not dying because we are in God Doesn’t Love You season.  The lady seriously wanted to know if it was okay to wear jeans with the coat.  Shut up, California.
  • Temperature ratings are really nice.  I suspect if I looked closely into it I’d find that the methodology generating them was sloppy, but “this coat is supposed to be good for thirty degrees colder than this coat” is still useful information if I’m shopping online and can’t touch the thing.  More sites should do that.

After all that, of course, the coat’s going to show up on Saturday and I’m not going to like it and want to send it back.  Nonetheless.  You have the rules now.  You may begin doing things correctly at any time.

Published by

Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

8 thoughts on “On outerwear

  1. I had to buy a waterproof winter-weight jacket online for taking Puppy Cody out, and I understand completely what you’re saying. (I live in Western New York, and yes, we are currently in God Doesn’t Love You Season – damn, I love that phrase!). I finally went more by the temperature ratings than the reviews for just the same reason – I know it gets below zero here, but some reviewer in Georgia saying it kept her toasty warm all winter doesn’t help me in Western New York.

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  2. (Yay — someone who spells the plural of ‘vortex’ correctly!)

    I live in eastern New Mexico (YES, Texas and Arizona, we really are part of the USA, and yes, we will continue to mock you for not knowing that), and winters here can be very cold, with daytime temperatures below 20F at times. Alas, whoever makes the decisions on what clothing to send to which stores in a chain never got the memo: ‘Some parts of New Mexico are frakkin’ COLD in late January — please send real winter clothing!’

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  3. I’m an environmental scientist, which means I work outdoors a lot! Carhartt is most certainly the way to go, I’ve had mine for 8 years now and it’s still working well (albeit a little frayed at the sleeve ends). I’m in PA, and three of those years have been spent in northern PA, which gets weather more similar to New York State thanks to Lake Erie (versus southern PA, my current location, which is more like the MD/DC area and sees significantly less snow… PA is a weird state for weather). Carhartt most definitely makes coats with an attached hood. So, if you’re not thrilled with that one, do a little more searching.

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  4. I didn’t give a rat’s ass what winter coat I had while living in the south, but now that I’m in Minnesota, two bits of information are essential – the temperature rating and wind resistance. I ended up splurging for a snowboarding coat. As a bonus, there are little zippered pockets all over the place for tucking in hand warmers.

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