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Need a nice-looking (women’s) jacket for winter travel?

I do. I have various fleece and puffy jackets for casual wear in Seattle weather, but nothing that can be dressed up a bit for European cities.

I found this one at REI Outlet, eligible for the current 20% discount offer, and got a $110 jacket for $63.

Although they describe it as fleece, that is the interior. The outer fabric is a sweater-like knit. It is 3/4 length (mid-thigh) on me, and the Princess seams make for a nice fit and flattering line. The side pockets are good for hand-warming but have no zipper closure. There is a small secure and inconspicuous zipper pocket on one wrist, just the size for a credit card and a few folded bills.

REI only offers the charcoal grey, but if you want to see other options you can check the Royal Robbins website—-they have it in maroon and a print (ugh), and there may be a way to get a sale price on those somewhere.

It would be nice to have wool, but that would have been at least 5x the price.

Posted by
1905 posts

Lola - I always appreciate your recommendations, but I have to say I have never purchased a polyester garment that is "breathable," even though they say they are. I purchased the Marmot sun-protective shirt and I've gotten a lot of good out of it, but it does make me hot. And I have an LL Bean rain jacket - same thing. Both of these are more breathable than garments that aren't advertised as such, but they're not like natural fabrics. I'm just posting this to find out of I'm an outlier here.

Posted by
187 posts

Lola-- I just returned from Europe. Your puffer coat will be fine. Accesorize with a pashmina. Bring warm gloves. A beret, fedora, or headband will be that extra panache.

Believe me, noone will notice. You will blend in just fine with a puffer coat. You didn't say when you were going,but this REI jacket would not be warm enough for winter.

I am on a facebook group, travel fashion girl-- and posted pics of my recent trip of what women are wearing. Puffer coats were everywhere. Be comfortable-first and foremost.

Posted by
13875 posts

Hi Janet, I expect it will be breathable because it is all knit fabric, like regular fleece. It is not meant to be worn directly against the skin as it is outwear. I just tried “breathing “ through it and it seems fine; much better than my N95 mask for sure! Actually it didn’t impede the airflow at all.

I don’t care for polyester against my skin either. The Marmot sun shirt I recommended is an exception, as it has a cotton-y feel to me—-but I still wear it over a very light merino Tee so it only touches the skin on my arms.

A polyester rain jacket like your LL Bean is a different animal—-they are tightly woven and either treated with an impermeable coating (like the old coated nylon rain jacket I had 50 years ago) or layered with a “breathable” membrane like Gore-Tex. I think those make a person sweat when exercising under warm conditions no matter what the ads say. I just tried breathing through my favorite Patagonia Torrentshell rain jacket ( single layer fabric) and it is as suffocating as a plastic bag. And I do perspire in it while hiking. But my more expensive Patagonia H2No “city” rain jacket has a mesh liner, and if I put that side against my face, I can breathe through it a bit. Must be something about the mesh layer, as if I try to breathe through it with the outer layer on my face I cannot.

Not sure what all this means but I was an interesting exercise. Actually for me it means that the Royal Robbins jacket I just bought will do for warmth but maybe not in a cold biting wind. But it is trim enough to layer under my rain jacket ( the mesh-lined one) so I will be taking both to Italy in February.

Posted by
1477 posts

Lola, I have an Arcteryx jacket very similar to the one you've linked. It is surprisingly warm and windproof. It takes a LOT of rain to wet it out. For days you are walking, if your underlayers are correct (depending on the fit of this coat I'd say one good one underneath is all you'll be able to have), it will suffice until temps down around 25 degrees or lower. A packable down jacket will give you more warmth, but more bulk and is often not wind-proof. I took my jacket with me to Iceland, Ireland (early May) and France last fall, plus to Rome in January. I wear it here a lot in the winter, but it will depend on the weather forecast.

Be mindful that 'dressing in layers' really means your base, a mid (like a puffy jacket or this piece) and your outer (like a rain jacket or shell), not layering upon layering. Restricted airspace makes one cold. I saw this ALL THE TIME when I worked at REI.

(It's possible my Arcteryx is slightly more windproof because it is a technical performance piece, but fleece in general is extremely windproof, and what you are calling the outer polyester is just woven fleece. It is an excellent material)

Posted by
1905 posts

Thanks for your experimenting, Lola, and reporting on it!