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Functional but Chic

Winter Outerwear Combines Snugness with Style

In the coldest months of the year, warm outerwear is a must. This year, lightweight, heat-retaining synthetic and down jackets are a popular choice. Capes, ponchos, and other items that provide warmth while adding style to the wearer's neck and shoulders are also in fashion.


A jacket with a distinctive collar. ©Color & Design Research Room of Kyoritsu Women's Junior College

Not Too Casual
Insulated outerwear became a focus of attention about five years ago. Short winter hoodies took hold among young men and women in their late teens and early twenties. Women went for blouson jackets in trendy colors, while men favored shiny enamel-style ones in black.

Coats insulated with down or other material are generally worn over casual or sporty outfits, but this winter has witnessed a subtle change as such outerwear has become a less casual and more chic. As a result, their appeal has broadened to include women and men from many walks of life, in addition to young adults.

Collar styles are also a focus of interest; young working women in their mid-twenties are choosing outerwear with shawl collars, rolled collars, standing collars, and other distinctive styles, as well as classical, chic garments without a collar or with three-quarter-length sleeves.

Three-quarter-length half coats that taper at the waist and make the wearer look slim are popular among both working women and homemakers in their thirties and forties. Favored colors include cream, brown, champagne gold, and other classy, mature tones. Outerwear is no longer just functional and comfortable but stylish as well.


A poncho. ©Color & Design Research Room of Kyoritsu Women's Junior College

Handy Capes and Ponchos
Capes and ponchos are in the spotlight as items that guarantee elegance and warmth. For the past two years, shawls and stoles have been hugely popular as decorative neck accessories. This winter, many young men and women around town seem to have one of these items wrapped around their necks. The popularity of capes and ponchos has further boosted interest in fashions for the shoulders and neck.

Capes are outer garments that loosely hang from the shoulders, cover the arms, have no sleeves, and usually open and fasten in front. Ponchos, by contrast, are large pieces of woolen fabric with an opening in the center for the head. Both these garments are a good choice for days when a coat would be too warm; on very cold days, meanwhile, they can easily be worn over a coat or blouson for extra insulation.

Shawls and stoles, synthetic and down outerwear, and capes and ponchos provide warmth and a full embrace for the shoulders and arms. Their popularity this season may in part be due to the sense of snug security they offer. (March 2009)