An Ode to the Parka: Winter’s Forgotten Friend

Alison Syrett | February 11, 2016

You’ve always resented your parka a bit, only allowing its presence in your wardrobe out of obligation. “Winter is coming,” the House of Stark once proclaimed. “Thou shall not survive in a suede trench.” Fictional kingdom-wide warning or not, you begrudgingly put the rest of your shopping list on hold. Sorry, sparkly mini handbags. Not today, satin square toe sling backs. In the name of being a responsible adult without hypothermia, you bought a shroud of nylon and quilted down first. Ugh.

It went straight to the back of your closet where it waited as you reached for tweedy overcoats and neon fur chubbies instead. It didn’t whine. It didn’t grumble. It seemed content knowing that its day in the sun was coming, although that day wouldn’t be sunny at all. The skies would be gray, the temperatures, frigid, the sidewalks slick and snowy. The two of you would become the closest, most intimately-connected of friends.

And you did… until the storm passed.

Such is the plight of the parka.

Today, however, let us acknowledge the least-appreciated coat in our collections. Together we will raise a glass of hot chocolate and thank it and all of the puffers and shapeless anoraks of the world for stoically enduring neglect. Because while oversized, industrial outerwear has spent years silently watching in the wings, praying for the smallest sign of bad weather, it’s been quietly building a case for your undivided attention.

A fancy magazine editorial here, an inspiring street style appearance there — it all seemed random at first; a fashion world fluke. But the parka, it of waterproof fabric and removable hoods, is a relentless, determined creature. It will not be deterred.

Neither will you, perhaps, after witnessing the sartorial magic it can weave in the slideshow above.

Click through and pray for bad weather.

Collages by Emily Zirimis

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  • Laura

    I love all these coats – and I love the sentiment about celebrating our sad puffy jackets – but I think it is kind of crazy how fashionable people are always photographed in “warm” coats that are needed for frigid weather but their coats are always open… I want to look cool too, but I need my coats buttoned up tight!

    • Same! Or winter fashion shots where the girls are wearing coats but strappy sandals. I can only wear sandals in the summer because my feet get too cold.

      • Alison Syrett

        That’s when I like to employ a good camp sock. 🙂

    • PlaidandPrejudice

      Right? These people clearly don’t live where you’re trudging through 2 feet of snow or in constant peril of slipping on ice or frostbite. I mean, it’s snowing like crazy and 8 degrees where I live. My coat is zipped and my feet are encased in Sorels.

  • My parka was the one thing that kept me from getting pneumonia on my walk to work this morning. I do feel like a deformed marshmallow when I wear it though. No hips, waist…nothing. But I guess that’s all in the name of not dying.

  • Stephanie

    I just got a belted coat- all the difference in the world when it comes to the shapelessness of traditional winter coats. Side note: I am very into winter accessories (hats, scarves, mittens- not gloves) to keep it lively during these cold last gasps of winter.

  • Stephanie
  • ahepwhoa

    My current favorite coat in my arsenal is by far a dark gray parka coat lined in bright blue faux fur. I look like I kidnapped and shaved Cookie Monster to make it. It’s amaze-balls

  • Meg

    I have a total weakness for parkas but if it’s super cold (today/tomorrow/rest of forever) I reach for my Carhartt Active Jac…from Tractor Supply Co. It’s dumb and bulky, but it keeps me so warm.

  • The only way I have figured out how to combat looking like a hot dog you left too long in a camp fire is to pair it with short boots and the most obnoxiously large scarf possible, which essentially creates a look akin to Samuel L. Jackson in the Hateful Eight. I’m into it.

  • M Rae

    MR parka list…better late than never!! currently living in amsterdam and bike in literally pouring rain for 20+ mins to work some days…there is no way to arrive warm and put together, best you can do is a pair a red nose with one of these (i still refuse) *insert all crying emojis*

  • Today here in Dallas, Texas it was 77 degrees. I’m beginning to think winter just got the pink slip and didn’t tell anyone and we’re all just noticing like “hey guys have you seen winter?” “Winter? Oh yeah I remember winter. Where is that guy?” “I don’t know man I can’t even remember when I last saw him.” -a real conversation that actually probably happened

  • Aggie

    I love theeese! Unfortunately in London right now I see them EVERYWHERE and all I can think about is ‘this 14-year old is wearing a dead fox on her hood and she doesn’t even know’. Sorry to be a downer here but does anyone else love a garment but hate it at the same time because it involves dead animals?

  • Katherine Sargeant

    I would have bought the Polo Ralph Lauren parka featured here that’s on sale(!!) instead of buying my Spring Break plane ticket, that’s how much I love it