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11-10-2006
  1
flaunt the imperfection..
 
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Please, don't make me wear a parka
Please, don't make me wear a parka

(Filed: 27/09/2006)

They're furry, shiny and shapeless but they're also winter's must-have jackets. A reluctant Maria Fitzpatrick tried one out...

Looking stylish in winter can be hard work. Crammed with parties and dressy occasions, it's the season that demands most from us in terms of glamour – which doesn't come easy when you're hung-over and Lemsip-dependent. But, sometimes, the fashion gods are merciful, giving us one staple item of clothing that is practical and fashionable – and that is why some of us may find ourselves wearing a parka this winter.


'Even the most beautifully tailored designer specimen looks like... an anorak in disguise'
Yes, a parka, an item of clothing that we thought had ''fashion crime" written all over it. It's famous for being the uniform of Mods in the Sixties – worn with pointy shoes and pudding-bowl haircuts. But for me, it conjures up memories of that snotty child in the playground, destined for an Asbo, whose fur-lined hood always smelt as if it had been left out in the rain for weeks. Add to that its famous devotees – the brats from South Park, Adrian Mole and the Gallagher brothers – and its resemblance to the lagging on a boiler is a minor complaint.

But the parka has been reincarnated. Silky and luxuriously oversized military styles with cashmere, satin and fur finishes billowed their way into many a designer collection – from Prada to Belstaff – as the linchpin of a new edgy, urban look for winter. Kylie, Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker and Colleen McLoughlin have already welcomed them into their wardrobes.

Tempted by the prospect of a ''functional" yet sexy winter jacket, I decided to give the new improved model a try, venturing out in the dreaded garment for a day in the hope of being converted. This parka had to have an echo of the past about it for the experiment to work, so I chose a black, knee-length designer version complete with fluffy fur-trim, toggles and shiny – though enticingly silky – fabric that whooshed and whistled with every move.

It was certainly warm. One point to the parka. There was plenty of room for several thin knits underneath – essential with the layered look for winter. And it was comfortable – the fabric behaved itself, it didn't bunch up or need any adjusting. But it didn't feel sophisticated, not even in a gritty ''with attitude" sort of way – and I gave it my all with the sullen pout, I really did.

When I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I nearly chickened out. I was taking a friend for birthday tea at the Ritz, and I wasn't sure they'd admit me in a swollen black binliner. But I had to know if the parka could pass a taste test, and what better place to try it? Despite slightly stricken looks from the doormen who were too polite to sneer, I sailed on through.

I thought I was just about getting away with it later that evening, in a pair of platforms and moody eyeliner, when a friend greeted me with one raised eyebrow: "Nice anorak." I could have snapped something about anoraks having elasticated cuffs and bottoms, but the battle was already lost.

I'm all for mixing things up – grunge with a touch of glamour can be a great combination. And yes, these new grown-up parkas are certainly posher than their predecessors, but even the most beautifully tailored designer specimen looks like... an anorak in disguise.


As for the furry collar: it was infuriating. It was designed to protect the face from freezing temperatures and Arctic winds – mine felt permanently damp from the drizzle, ticklish, and ridiculously out of place. Unless we get another ice age, I'd rather have a cold nose.

However, a few of the styles currently in the shops dispense with all such characteristics and work as smart and sensible winter jackets, including a granddad-collar style in olive green from Sportmax; (605; 0207 518 8010), and the minimalist cotton or nylon versions from Topshop (from 40; 0845 121 4519), in black, chocolate and grey check.

For something equally unfussy, Gap's new RED collection – half the profits are donated to the Global Fund to fight Aids – includes a classic khaki parka in lightweight cotton, with a hood – but no fur – for 120, (0800 427 789). French Connection has an empire-line parka (120; 0207 036 7200) in this season's key colour, grey, with pleats at the front, which give it a smarter appearance and a more flattering shape than many of the new high-street versions.

Just remember, although parkas are going to stick around until spring – judging by the recent shows in New York and London – they are not the only choice for winter. Think layers, long cable-knit cardigans with a wide belt – and a big umbrella, instead.


www.telegraph.co.uk

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Last edited by softgrey; 11-10-2006 at 08:32 AM.
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11-10-2006
  2
Meg
inspired contemplation
 
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pictures?

And her suggestion of layers, long cable-knit cardigans with an umbrella as an alternative is ludicrous is you are in a place that has a temperate below 5 degrees Celsius.

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11-10-2006
  3
flaunt the imperfection..
 
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well...
most people are not in a climate of below 5 degrees celsius are they?..
what is that in fahrenheit?...

i have been doing the layering thing forever now..
you won't catch me dressing like the michelin man!!......
i have tried and tried...but i can't wear one of those sleeping bags out in public...
at least not any that i have found until now...
and i have been looking too!!...

*sorry- the article did not come with pics....
pls feel free to add some...

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11-10-2006
  4
still here
 
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I'm not sure where the line between parka and those down-filled puffer jackets is, but I definitely thought I would never in a million years be caught dead in one of the latter.

Then I moved to Boston, and while I try to wear my elegant black overcoat most often, sometimes, when you've got 2 feet of snow on the ground and need to shovel out your car, you've got to wear the down puffer coat with the furry hood. You just gotta :p

p.s. -5C is about 23 F.

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11-10-2006
  5
Meg
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I meant about +5 C and yes, I would say a lot of world, including nyc drops below this temperature yearly. Plus I come from a very cold province in Canada where the average temp is -30 or -40 C.

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11-10-2006
  6
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I guess someone who goes for a tea to Ritz can afford taking a taxi and therefore wearing only several layers of knits, n'est-ce pas? No wonder she had trouble to pull a parka off.
This idea of wearing a cardigan and an umbrella is just ridiculous, especially in my country baby, where it is -15 C throughout most winter days and streets are covered in snow slush with salt melted in, which ruins your nice new shoes, every season. But I am still seeing lots of stylish girls, and I am sure some will be wearing parkas.
It is all in styling it with right accessories so I am not saying no to it - had one many years ago and remember it as a pleasant experience. I guess that lots of Russian fashionistas would swap their furs for a nice designer parka!

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11-10-2006
  7
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To me, the basic parka means this (photo from en.wikipedia.org):



I have seen a lot of updated "fashion" versions but I have not yet found a good representative picture of the ones I'm seeing lately.

I think it can be worn stylishly, but it is definitely a "streetwear" look; I wouldn't accept it as elegant.

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11-10-2006
  8
flaunt the imperfection..
 
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yeah..i had one like that as a kid tang.....
i think EVERY kid in north america did..
and it was def cool and desirable...
*mine was navy blue with an orange lining i think....

but i don't think any of us was going for 'chic' at that age...:p...

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11-10-2006
  9
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ugh i dont like them... any down-jacket i dont like. especially fancy ones like moncler... you still look like you are wearing a garbage bag. i can survive the massachusetts winter without one.

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11-10-2006
  10
backstage pass
 
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Utah = FREEZING COLD!
I Love my parka!

But its not elegant, but you really cant be when its below 0

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11-10-2006
  11
sleeping
 
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ugh, i don't like them... but when the temperaure drops below -10C [14F] it is the only choice left i own one of those pillow looking down things..

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11-10-2006
  12
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Wow never had to own one but also never get to experience Fall fashion either always lived in Carribean or florida

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12-10-2006
  13
scenester
 
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Thanks for the article
I loathe parkas/puffers, personally - the ones with fur-trimmed hoods in particular. I live in Canada (in Toronto, not Calgary, to be fair) but I refuse to wear them...a long wool/cashmere coat, boots, and layers will do.

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12-10-2006
  14
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Carine Roitfeld.

I think the parka can look cool, but it's a really hard look to pull off, I think you have to be of a certain age and quite chic, to not end up looking too trendy or fashion victim-y.

And I have seen a cuple around in London and the looks tells me that the person just read Vogue and saw that the 'must-have' was a parka, and went out and bought it.

style.com


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12-10-2006
  15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pucci_mama
Carine Roitfeld.

I think the parka can look cool, but it's a really hard look to pull off, I think you have to be of a certain age and quite chic, to not end up looking too trendy or fashion victim-y.

And I have seen a cuple around in London and the looks tells me that the person just read Vogue and saw that the 'must-have' was a parka, and went out and bought it.

style.com
I agree with you. I think I like parkas with some outfits, but due to it being super cool at this time (again), I won't wear or buy one.

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