Considering that you pretty much live in your winter coat during the colder months, you should probably choose a jacket that you love enough to wear all the time.
But finding the perfect parka is not an easy feat — not only do you have to find a style that's warm enough to battle the bitter cold, but you also want one that looks and feels good, too.
When shopping for a winter coat, you'll want to ask yourself the following questions:
1. What's the temperature rating? In other words, what temperature range will you be comfortable in, while wearing this jacket? (Note, not all companies offer specific ratings, while others have their own rating guides, without specific temps.)
2. Is it waterproof, water-resistant or water-repellent? And what the heck is the difference between the three? If your coat is waterproof, it is impervious to water (these are pretty rare, especially with "fashion" finishes). If it's water-resistant, it's able to resist the penetration of water to some degree, but not entirely. Water-repellent fabrics, on the other hand, are not easily penetrated by water, thanks to a surface coating treatment.
3. Does it have a fur trim, and if so, is it detachable? Not everyone wants to rock a fur-trimmed hood (real, or faux), so be mindful of choosing a parka that suits your needs.
4. How do I wash it? If you want something that you can clean easily on a regular basis, go for a machine-washable parka. If you're only planning on spot cleaning for the season, then giving it a good wash by the time spring rolls around, a dry clean option works.
5. What's the fill, and how warm will it be? Most parkas feature duck or goose down filling, often times mixed in with feathers. Pay attention to the fill power, which essentially is a measurement of the volume of down in the coat. Basically, the higher the fill power, the more air an ounce of the down can trap, making it more insulating and warm. (Long story short, go for the higher fill number for maximum warmth).
And now that you've had a crash course in winter parkas, check out a few of our fave styles in the gallery below: