Styling the Parka: From Casual to Suits, Make a Parka Your Go-To Coat

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There are a variety of great looking coats that any stylish man should consider keeping in his stable. But when the weather really hits hard, it’s the rugged weatherproof parka that proves itself time and again. A natural with casual outfits and a daring style choice with dressier looks, the right parka can handle it all.

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Choosing the Right Parka

First and foremost, it’s important to choose the right parka to handle the job. Some are stylish at the expense of warmth, while others sacrifice good looks for protection from the elements. In rare cases they do both. While there are some great options out there at many price levels, I find you can’t go wrong with a classic military surplus parka in olive drab, burgundy, or navy blue.

The fur-trimmed hood keeps out the cold, wind, and snow; the deep hand warmer pockets and flapped front pockets can hold everything and more; the buttoned storm flap is much cooler than velcro; the nylon shell keeps you dry as a bone. And they look great. What’s not to love?

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Casual Looks

Obviously, a coat like this is an absolute cinch with stylish casual looks. With some good jeans and a favorite sweater, you can throw this coat on as easily as you might a waxed cotton or tweed jacket in the fall. Add boots in bad weather or your favorite sneakers on a sunny yet cold day. The options are limitless.

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The Mid Range

Given the old “preppy” convention of combining dress and casual pieces in the same outfit, the parka does just as well over a soft coat and tie combination. A tweed jacket, button down collar shirt, and classic tie add a bit of easy going dash to the overall toughness of the parka. Dress it up or down as you like, with anything from flannels and loafers to cords or jeans on the bottom. Just make sure that the parka is long enough to cover your sports jacket.

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Full Dress

Most daring of all, and perhaps most stylish, is to wear a tough as nails parka over a formal suit and tie. Confidence goes a long way to pulling this look off, so jump in feet first. Try wearing a parka over your dressiest double breasted pin striped suit, complete with shiny black shoes, a crisp white shirt, and a formal tie. You’ll keep warm and have a devil-may-care look about you. If you’re not sure this will work, just spend ten minutes looking at photos of millionaire Italian industrialists. If that doesn’t change your mind nothing will.

I’d hate to say you should only have one coat to choose from in the colder months, but if I had to choose the parka would be a top contender. Not only will it perform it’s primary duty of keeping it’s wearer warm and dry, but it fits in seamlessly with looks ranging from street wear to preppy to European with ease. There aren’t many other garments that work as hard.

Photo credits: An Affordable Wardrobe

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