The women's parka is one of the mainstays of style. Although it's usually the wool overcoat that's seen as the ultimate winter style classic, the women's parka comes out with a lot of versatility.
Originally made from caribou or seal skin, the women's parka has been in many shapes since its first ice-cold Arctic outing: cotton-sateen blends to protect the US Army, and more recently custom made from cashmere blends (a ski wear that's almost – almost – too much to wear outdoors).
Parka for women: Everything You Should Know About
Nowadays, the options are endless – choose from unlined lightweight designs that keep the rain at bay while boosting warmth or traditional polka dotted styles that act as a form-fitting furnace. Still stuck on which women's parka to invest in this year? Your search might be over.
What is a parka?
Few clothes have undergone such a thorough transformation as the women's parka. This age-old outerwear staple can be loosely defined as a long, hooded coat designed to keep the rain (and the cold) out, yet it's available in a few key shapes. And, like many of today's most popular garments, the women's parka rose to its prominence in the 21st century through widespread use in the military, particularly in the American armed forces.
While the women's parka has never really fallen out of favour since the Mod era, its enduring appeal, like other classic menswear items, can be attributed to its function rather than its form. It was favoured by the army for its good rain coverage and unrivalled warmth, and by the mods for exactly the same reason. Who doesn't want to stay dry, whether you're fighting through war or city traffic?
What are the types of Parka's?
- Arctic Parka. Due to their impenetrable nylon-blend fabrics and insulating down or wool linen, some modern women's parkas are capable of keeping the wearer warm-up to-40 degrees of weather, so remember to take them off by public transport. Due to their chunky silhouettes and weather-beating design, arctic women's parkas are well equipped with similarly sturdy objects, such as rubber boots, heavyweight denim and thick knitwear. It's not going to work so well in formal conditions, but when the temperature drops dramatically, who really cares?
- Tailored Parka. A perfect stand-in for the classic rain mac, the tailored women's parka is the ideal day-to-day winter coat, especially if lined. They often come in more luxurious fabrics – think of merino wool or cashmere blends. Try wearing your daily women's parka over a suit – a gray wool women's parka over a navy dress is a good combination – or a long-sleeved knitted polo on the weekend.
What are the best brands of parkas?
- Canada Goose. Canada Goose has been providing cold weather equipment to the Canadian military and police for a number of years and is a reliable source of some of the warmest women's parka around. The fashion foray of the brand has been equally successful, with long-standing collaborations with Drake's October label Very Own solidifying its street-style appeal.
- Woolrich. Woolrich is the place to go for some of the best technical women's parkas (which are equally stylish). The American brand uses the best fabrics in Italy for its coats – the waterproof Storm System of Loro Piana makes multiple appearances – and the classic designs on offer are hard to beat.
The women's parka hasn't had the easiest time to break into the world of fashion. Its relatively low status on the scale of stylish outerwear has not been helped by womenswear's focus on refined, tailored pieces over the past decade or so. But now, with the rise of streetwear, the fashion of the nineties and oversized silhouettes, this old faithful is firmly back in the limelight.
It's still a coat style that only works for a select few brands and people, though. Not every single label under the sun is making them – but those who have chosen to feature a women's parka are likely to lead the new direction that womenswear is taking.
Photo by Ann Danilina on Unsplash