Good Bye Wool, Hello Down!

Upon arrival in New Orleans this week, I jammed my down coat into its stuff sack, and stored it in my suitcase. I needed a warm coat in New Jersey and only a light sweater there.

When I’m in cities, like New York, I observe what people wear, noting how down has taken over outerwear, from vests to jackets to long coats. While I might see a few colors, I mostly see black.

So I enjoyed seeing a pinkish-red Norma Kamali “sleeping bag” coat, circa 1980’s, that was part of French fashion icon, Countess Jacqueline De Ribes’ wardrobe, on display at the Met’s Costume Institute until February 21.

I remember when down coats like this one first came out and I had one in a rust-color. Then, I still had several wool coats. Now I have two: One long and one mid -length but I’m wearing them less and less.

I’ve become a down convert. They have zip pockets, stuff into a sac or pocket, are light yet warm, and washable. I have a mid-length black down coat I usually wear when walking in New York City. On a recent visit, I realized I needed something longer to shield me from winter winds. Finding a coat on sale, another black down, I bought it. I’m ready now for all weather.

Last year, walking with my friend Claudia in the city, and chatting about winter, she mentioned she only had the coat she was wearing—a lovely, knee-length wool. Though she grew up in Boston, known for its harsh winters, she’s spent the past five years living in Hong Kong, and forgot how cold it can get. I tactfully told her she’d need something warmer. “Really? This won’t be warm enough?” She listened and ordered a long down coat that day, and has thanked me many times since.

I’m not quite ready to get rid of my woolen coats. They are tailored and pretty. And if it’s really, really cold, I’ll don the mink I inherited from my grandmother. It’s heavy and bulky, warm as toast, perhaps politically incorrect, but sentimental and gorgeous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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13 Responses to Good Bye Wool, Hello Down!

  1. I’ve really only had very lightweight down coats/jackets. I love them for their utility enlighten us. That said, I still love my wool too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love wool everything else– scarves, sweaters, hats, shawls…

    Like

  3. You should have told me this before we downsized. Now, more than ever, I need a larger coat closet!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jfrances40 says:

    Who do you order your down costs from, Lisa? I can’t wear wool at all. Even in NC we need a warm coat and I need a new one! Thanks for sharing your opinion on the matter!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jfrances40 says:

    Thanks! Will check out Lands End!

    Like

  6. madtaylor says:

    First, I never have on the right coat for neither occasion nor weather. The ski jacket (not down) is bulky and mid thigh in length. So I fry up top while from the thighs down, I’m nearing hypothermia. Then there’s the long wool; tailored and chic with it’s just two buttons but because of that feature – welcomes the elements right on in while the rest of me fries.
    I remember when down seemed to ‘come out’ as less of a camping/hiking-in-Nepal-kind-of-wear into the world of everyday fashion. It always seemed so Back-To-the-Future-y or Stay-Puff-marshmallowy. As a gal who has always believed she was fat – I din’t want to draw attention to myself by wearing something from outer space or that made me look fatter. So, the dilemma: look good and be marginally prepared for the weather; look like everyone else but be warm?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The styles have changed so much. They are now much sleeker and less Pillsbury Dough Boy looking. Lots of great colors too. Look around– would be perfect for DC weather.
      And you’re not fat!!! You’re gorgeous!

      Like

  7. I love wool coats. I have a long black wool coat that I wear mostly when traveling to NY from LA. Here in LA we don’t get cold enough winters and are in and out of cars. But on cold Friday nights (high 40’s – low 50’s) I wear that wool coat which I enjoy wearing.

    Today I’m wearing a wool sweater. Love my winter clothing….Oh – and I do have something made of down – our down quilts – comfortable!

    Fun post!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I bought a white, fairly heavy, long down-filled coat for the winter up here in the great white north and I’m telling you, if it’s not cold enough one could die of heat exhaustion in that coat! Enjoy New Orleans, or should I say N’orlins? ❤
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hard to find the right balance! Just went overnight– didn’t want to overstay my welcome as I stayed w/ my daughter. Easy trip – 3 hours there direct. Happy to be back in winter weather and snow!

    Like

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