In short, yes. Well, probably. If you live in a climate where the temperature drops, even just a little, then you need some variety of down jacket, even if just to add an outdoorsy quilted garment to your wardrobe. Way up north, where the winters are cold, a long, hooded, heavy down parka is definitely in order. If you’re in a more temperate climate, then a lightweight down sweater—or puffer coat, puffy jacket, whatever you want to call it—will do.
Down provides more warmth for its weight, and is much more compressible than its synthetic counterparts. This might not matter to you if you aren’t headed to the summit of a snowy peak. But, know this—down is a great investment. Where a synthetic winter coat may last only a few seasons, properly cared for down coats can last for decades. The only drawback—down loses its loft, and therefore warmth, when wet. So making sure that the shell, or outer part, of your puffy coat is water resistant is important.
Down is the layer of fine feathers found underneath the tough exterior feathers of ducks and geese. It’s essentially the layer that keeps them warm, which is why it’s used as insulation in clothing and bedding. The idea for the down parka came from Eddie Bauer, who, after a near death experience in frigid temperatures, wanted to create a better winter coat. Since his 1930s invention, many other brands have followed suit with their own version of the puffy—some functional, some fashionable, and some in between.
Women’s down coats come in a huge variety of styles. In the dead of winter, long down coats are fashionable, or even necessary for keeping warm all the way to the knees or ankles. For more active pursuits, waist-length down coats or down vests allow for freedom of movement. Many down coats have hoods, sometimes trimmed in fur or faux fur. You may find other embellishments or details, such as belts, pockets, or decorative buttons. Most down coats have a high collar and tight cuffs to keep in the warmth. All down coats feature quilting or baffles, which is the stitching that keeps the down evenly distributed throughout the jacket.