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Down vest with hood styled with Sienna Studio skirt, GNW tight, Great Northwest denim shirt and riding boots (all own) for a winter work outfit in cold climate regions

Everyone dislikes wearing down clothes due to the “fattening” effect and because they can be heavy. But when it’s cold, it’s unavoidable. Read how to look stylish in down clothes and how to avoid looking like the Michealin Man.

  1. Look for Tailored Down Clothes
  2. Hoodie Down Vest: Wear the Hood over Your Coat
  3. My Secrets to Look Stylish in Down Clothes


Look for Tailored Down Clothes

When it is bitter cold, you really want to put on a down vest. However, they add weight around the waist which no fashionista needs. I searched forever to find this tailored down vest. I found this vest at Nordstrom Rack in Boulder when I visited Ana from Mrs. American Made. To show the waist off I added a belt.

fashion over 50 looking stylish in a down vest

mature fashion How to look stylish in down clothes

Fashion over 40 How to look stylish in down clothes
Wearing a down vest over a Landsend sweater with a Sienna Studio pencil leather skirt, and statement belt. Keeping the outfit in monochromatic black and the high heels of the Harley Davidson booties serve to avoid that the vest wears me. All items are my own

Hoodie Down Vest: Wear the Hood over Your Coat

The vest would be perfect if it had no hood. Don’t you also think that hoods sort of make you look like Humpack’s sis when you wear it under a coat? However, since its cut permits to pull it outside the coat it works.

How to look stylish in down clothes
Great Northwest denim shirt, R&Q down vest, Eddie Bauer tweed skirt, GNW tight, Sanchez riding boots, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Esprit silk neckerchief


My Secrets to Look Stylish in Down Clothes

If you have your issues with down clothes, but don’t want to freeze to hypothermia when the polar vortex pumps cold Arctic or Siberian air into your region, here are my secrets to still look stylish.

  1. Look for down coats, vests or anoraks that are tailored. While, of course, vertical down compartments have a slimming vibe, they have the disadvantage that due to gravity the downs accumulate in the lower part of the compartment. Consequently, insulation becomes uneven, but worse, the coat will look lumpy. Go for close to horizontal compartments instead, despite horizontal stripes add weight. See this guide for more on what to look for in a down coat.
  2. There exist down coats that have an outer fabric to hide the down compartments. While this look overcomes the disadvantage of horizontal lines, it is not obvious that you wear a down coat. You probably prefer people to know that you wear down clothes. It must get below -40F (-40oC) before I wear the down anorak shown in the photos below.
  3. Wear high sturdy heels or at least shoes that add some height. Looking taller offsets a bit that the downs make you look wider than you are.
  4. If you wear a knee length down coat, adding a long scarf creates vertical lines as it divides the “wide” appearing coat into small left and right parts and the scarf in the middle. This trick has some slimming effect as it draws the eye up and down instead of along the horizontal compartments of the coat.
  5. Go for a monochromatic look which has a slimming effect and looks classy.
  6. Choose dark colors for two reasons. First, dark colors have a slimming effect, which helps to offset the weight the down clothes add. Second, you will not look like you wrapped you wrapped your grandmother’s feather bedding around your body. 😉
    1. Avoid red and pink as these colors always add at lest 5 pounds.
    2. Avoid pastels as they add pounds.
  7. Try to find a piece with an interesting print like a floral down coat for your climate region.
  8. Accentuate your waist with a belt or look for a down piece that has features like a drawstring to give at least the idea of a waist.
  9. Recall the styling trick to pair bulky with something slim and lean. Thus, straight pants or jeans, skinnies, over-the-knee boots are good options to not be mistaken for the Michelin man. 😉
  10. Don’t make the mistake to buy the down coat that is tight to offset the weight that the down coat adds. There are two reasons for buying a coat that has at least an inch (2.54 cm) ease. First, you will look like a sausage on the grill shortly before bursting when your down item has no ease. That look is never, ever stylish. Second, squeezing out every little air package between you and the down item also squeezes out the air between the downs. However, air has a great insulating effect. Thus, your body heat would be conducted within short time to the outside and counteract to why you wear a down piece in the first place. Furthermore, this squeezing will break the downs and leads to premature aging of the down item, i.e., you would have to buy a new down piece earlier than necessary. And who likes spending money on down pieces to begin with? They are an inevitable necessity in cold climate regions, but nobody’s favorite piece in the closet.
  11. Identify the down coat that is right for your climate zone.


down coat with hidden down compartments Down coat that insulated me from the cold air when watching the Idiatarod start (front view)
down anorak with hood Down coat with additional cover layer and hood (back view). The sleeves have a closure as well as knit endings to avoid that body warmth get lost to the ambient air

Do you own a down item? Do you wear it for fashion or because you live in a climate region where it gets bitter cold? In the latter case, do you procrastinate to wear your down coat until it is absolutely unavoidable to do so? How do you style your down clothes?

You may also be interested in reading about how to wear embroidery or how to style metallic over 40.

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Photos: G. Kramm

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