In my memory, the last time fleeces appeared to be popular beyond the scope of dad-enforced practicality was in the early 2000s, when fuzzy North Face zip-ups rendered in baby blue and baby pink were beloved amongst middle school girls. Seeing as I was personally ensconced in middle school at the time, I was acutely aware of this phenomenon. Seeing as I was also an (annoyingly) intrepid individualist who shunned popular trends, from pants with “JUICY” written across the butt to grinning Paul Frank money T-shirts, I refused to touch fleece with a 10-foot pole.
Fast forward 18 or so years later, and not only are fleeces trendy again, but I am also very keen on touching them, pole or no pole. When I began seeing them pop up with regularity this fall on runways (Mansur Gavriel, Ashley Williams), presentations (Sandy Liang) and stylish Instagram feeds, I developed an unprecedented desire to own one myself, because this wave of fleece popularity is different from the last: It’s much more diverse. With a wide array of colors, silhouettes and overall vibes instead of celebrating a single dominating style, there’s truly a fleece for everyone in 2018, even the staunchest of individualists. I rounded up some of my favorite fleece options on the market right now to keep you warm like the coziest of stuffed animals. Keep scrolling for a run-down of their particularities.
Patagonia’s website claims this particular style is the “polyester fleece pullover that made fleece famous,” which, despite the lack of supporting evidence, I fully believe. This is the image that comes to mind for me whenever someone says “fleece” in a generic sense, and for good reason, because it’s delightful: soft and lightweight, coupled with that element of vintage-esque je ne sais quoi that only longstanding iconic garments can embody. I like a boxier fleece fit and thus prefer shopping in the men’s section of Patagonia (why do companies think women want outerwear that adheres like Wonder Woman armor!?). If you’re on the same page, taking a size smaller in men’s than you usually would in women’s sizing is usually a good rule of thumb.
If you want a fleece that essentially looks like a not-too-oversized but extra-plush crewneck sweatshirt, this one from Everlane is your gal. In other perks, it’s also $55 (one of the most well-priced/good quality options out there, based on my research) and the body is made of 100% recycled polyester from renewed plastic water bottles (neat!). It also has over 250 glowing reviews on Everlane.com, one of which likens wearing it to “being hugged.” The moment I tried it on, I knew this to be true.
Go baby blue or go home is something I’m guessing no one has said, much less typed, until this very moment, but it is highly applicable to the way I feel about statement-making outerwear. This fleece from House of Sunny also features a neck that can be snapped open into a wide collar or snapped up into a stiff turtleneck for equally dramatic effect. The silhouette’s distinctive crop, front flap pockets and too-long-on-purpose scrunch sleeves create a effect that culminates in the undeniable fact that there are regular fleeces and there are fashion fleeces, and this one falls into the latter category.
If you’re interested in conjuring the well-worn softness of a childhood blankie, the warmth of a duvet, the aesthetic of Where the Wild Things Are and the panache of an exceptionally cool brand — and you’re willing to put up $395 for the cause — you couldn’t do better than this fleece from Sandy Liang. Yes, it’s expensive for a fleece, but when you put it on, it looks and feels expensive for a fleece, by which I mean the plushness of the material and the thoughtfulness of the detailing (contrasting blue corduroy elbow patches and green zippers) conspire to convince you you’re wearing something truly special.
L.L. Bean knows a thing or two when it comes to excellent fleeces, and this signature style does not disappoint. It might actually be my favorite of the bunch, all things considered, but particularly because of the a) thickness of the fleece itself, b) distinctiveness of its pullover mock-neck style (no zips or snaps! novel!) and c) structured nature of its uber-boxy silhouette. If you like a super soft, malleable fleece, this one is probably not the one for you, but if you’re in the market for something more substantial that holds its shape really well, your dream fleece hath arrived.
According to J.Crew’s website this fleece is made from Polartec, i.e. the company that INVENTED FLEECE, which makes a lot of sense when you cozy up inside of it. It’s super soft and super warm, and definitely something I would want in my wardrobe’s corner come winter. The green color I’m wearing looks to be sold out as of now (hopefully they’ll restock), but I’m also a big fan of the Pink Blush or Bright Cerise for something a little more outside the box of fleeceland’s normal array of earth tones.
Outdoor Voices’ brand new MegaFleece Pullover is slightly, deliciously oversized, which is why I’ve categorized it as The Dad (highest of compliments, in my opinion, because there is nothing more fun than borrowing my dad’s slightly, deliciously oversized sweaters). It’s made of recycled wool but can still go in the washing machine — a winning combo. I can see it being the exact thing I reach for on cold days when I come home from work, remove all my clothing and reach for something big and soft to envelop me like a chrysalis.
Are you on board the fleece trend train? Are you eyeing one in particular? Let’s cozy up in the comments.
Photos by Elizabeth Tamkin.