Some of my basic requirements for my winter jacket was that it has to be light-weight. for work, I travel around the city and basically live in the subway so I didn't want to carry a huge heavy jacket with me everywhere. Has to have a fur lined hood (seriously, it's a necessity!), has pockets, the jacket had to be long enough to cover my knees, the jacket's style needs to be smooth and not ribbed...I didn't want the puffy look and lastly be in black or blue (i'm so basic!).
Here were my choices:
Mackage - With the belief that outerwear is an integral part of fashion, it’s no wonder that the coats and jackets designed by Mackage are super chic. This Montreal based brand has continued to be a celeb fave season after season and has grown to worldwide recognition. The parka I wanted was the Kay-P Mid Length Winter Down Coat with the classic Mackage Collar (see below) - $CAD890
When I tried the jacket, I felt the amount of fur was overwhelming....it was way too much fur for me, I looked like a chicken! I did like that it looked more fashionable and the jacket that comes inside was really handy because if you get too warm then you just unzip the front zipper. Many, many, many girls have Mackage and it's definitely a unique look but it wasn't for me. The fur and the fact that it didn't give me a nice waist line was just a no for me.
Moose Knuckles - With amazing attention to detail, luxury materials and hardware, it’s obvious why Moose Knuckles is so popular. We love their parkas for their durability and stylish take on traditional puffer jackets that are perfect for the chilly Canadian winter.
I checked out the Moose Knuckles, Stirling Parka - $CAD850
I went into the store and tried on the parka in navy blue with white fur and it looked so beautiful! I loved the little pom-poms on the jacket. My biggest problem with the Moose Knuckles is that the jacket is so heavy!!! It was a struggle to just get it on. I feel like this jacket is absolutely great for arctic weather but for the everyday Canadian winter, it was just too bulky. I knew that I would be lugging this jacket around if I bought it. It would be great for the days when we got -30 degree weather but it was just too much on my frame. The jacket was overwhelming and didn't give me any shape at all.
Canada Goose - Founded in a small warehouse in Toronto almost 60 years ago, Canada Goose has grown into into one of the world’s leading makers of luxury apparel. Known for their uber warm and cozy winter coats, this is a Canadian brand you can trust!
I checked out the Kensington Parka in black with a brown/white fur trim - $CAD 895
The Canada Goose jacket looks the most simple out of the 3, which I didn't mind because I was focused more on function than fashion (shocking!) It is a very popular brand and thousands of people have this jacket and I absolutely love the style. What I loved was that it's super-duper lightweight but keeps you extremely warm. I don't know what magic they have worked on this jacket but it keeps you uber warm. I really liked the fur trim on the jacket, and it's ethical as well; which is a great bonus. You can cinch in the jacket from the sides so it gives me an amazing shape in my waistline so I can show off my curves. Also, this jacket was better in terms of it being water resistant.
So to the bad part now; the jacket isn't as long as I wanted. There were other styles that were longer but they were too puffy. This jacket is a little above my knees and I wanted the length to be a little longer. Not a huge deal and I knew I could compromise on that aspect. the fur trim is a little irritating as not all fur is created equally! There are some jackets where the fur looks worn out or tilted but apparently the fur is coded to the jacket so you can't switch it with another. I tried the fusion version of this jacket as well, which is made for petite people, but once again the length was bugging me. It was even shorter on the fusion fit.
I ended up buying the Canada Goose in Black. It was the best jacket that met most of my criteria and I am in love with it! The suspenders built in the jacket are a little weird but I can see how they can be handy. I love that it's lightweight but keeps me so warm. It did come with a lifetime guarantee....not sure if it will come handy. Also, Canada Goose will help you dry-clean your jacket; ask them about it for more info!
I'm so happy with this jacket and it was definitely an investment so hopefully it will last me a few years!
Below is some more information on parka buying and some other handy tips!
Where can you buy parka's:
- Go to the actual store, In Toronto, each brand has their own store in Yorkdale.
- Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Holt's Renfrew etc. - all department stores carry these brands.
- Sporting Life - sometimes you can get a better deal, price-wise at a sporting store as you could get it on sale or during a promotion. You will miss out on the little perks like guarantee on your parka (Canada Goose has this when you purchase in a CG store) and dust bag. If you don't care of those things and would rather save money then try out a sporting store.
Why a parka is worth the investment:
- Hibernating isn't good for you...insert winter is coming joke. Basically, you need to get out so guess what? you need a jacket.
- You will have it for years! Trust me! your good quality coat will last for ages.
- You can't fake a good make. Quality is key!
- You don't need to sacrifice style. There are so many brands and so many styles that you will find the perfect fit.
Types of winter jackets:
- The Utility Parka – If you want the ultimate parka that will keep you warm and dry in a snowstorm, last you at least a decade and half, and is an investment piece in itself – the utility parka is for you. Everybody needs to have this one faithful parka for polar vortex days when all the other jackets just can’t hack it. Some even have a temperature guarantee ( Nobis one has a -30 guarantee), can’t argue with that.
- The Urban Parka – If you are looking for something stylish and sleek, you are one of those die-hard fashionistas who would rather freeze than wear anything frumpy, you need to get yourself an urban parka. The quintessential “not-a-parka” parka is anything but frumpy, often with luxe fur and leather trims to give it that extra sass. Ideal for downtown living where the temperatures are not as extreme. Many even have features such as extra midway zippers on the inside made to regulate your temperature (and keep you warm, but not suffocate you) for when you duck indoors or the subway.
- The Sport Parka – If bunny slopes, winter chalets and après-ski is your jam – sporty parkas are what you need to give you the added breathability and mobility for winter sports activities (even if you are just faking it for the après ski – it pays to look good). Gone are the days of the unflattering neon coloured ‘Michelin’ sports parkas. Sport parkas nowadays are the epitome of technical fabrics and boasts luxe features like fur trims and fleece lined pockets.
Key points to remember when purchasing your winter jacket:
- Down content percentage is key! The higher the percentage, the warmer you will be. Polyfill/synthetics are cheaper but it takes more of it to insulate, leading to a bulkier form (and we don’t want that, do we) for the same level of warmth. Also keep in mind that a winter parka is a pretty sizeable item to add to your list of daily items you schlep around – the lightweight down fill will make a huge difference. Down is also more breathable, which means it will keep us warm, but not too warm. The breathability keeps us from getting hot and sweaty inside the jacket, and prevents us from getting sick. It’s all in the fabrics!
- Waterproof – Do you live in Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver? In Montreal or Toronto, it’s more snow (lots more) than rain. I find though it’s nice to have something at least water resistant, but I rarely need it to be waterproof. If you live in the west coast, you NEED it to be waterproof or risk smelling musty for days.
- Added features – Today’s parkas offer all kinds of neat features to make your life easier. Hoods, fur trim, exterior pocket, interior pockets, the sky’s the limit! So it is important to keep in mind what feature is most important to you and what you can do without. You need a hood to keep your head warm, and the Nobis & Canada Goose parka has this neat little feature where you can bend the wire in the fur trim in a way that your hood won’t get blown off by even the strongest wind! Soia and Kyo parka has this extra removable lightweight puffy jacket underneath that you can wear as a separate jacket for when you're indoors. Both are super handy.
- Make sure that you check the cleaning instructions before you make a purchase to decide if that is what you are willing to sign up for. Most heavyweight parkas have to be dry cleaned, though there will be some (likely synthetic fill) that you can machine wash. But buyers beware – machine wash doesn’t mean you can just throw it in the washer and dryer like you do with your t shirts – you might have to lay it out to dry for days, ‘beat’ your parka or add tennis balls to the dryer to fluff up the fill. Not worth the hassle and risk of damage if you ask me. For my Canada Goose jacket they gave me a discount card that I could take to the dry cleaners or if i'm really lazy give it to the store to dry clean.
- If your parka has a fur hood – check if it is removable. Some dry cleaners don’t clean fur, so when the fur is not removable and they accept the item, you assume responsibility for it if the fur gets damaged. Same goes with leather trims – I had a parka with leather sleeves, and while the rest of the parka was dry clean friendly, I had to send my jacket to a specialty leather cleaner just for the leather trims to be cleaned, which was extra money and a hassle.