Thursday Miscellany: Winter Travel Outerwear, What I’m Reading and More

packable down jacket for winter travel

After trying about a dozen different jackets/coats for next month’s Paris trip, I think we finally have a winner! This is the Lands’ End lightweight down packable parka. Of everything I’ve tried so far it has the most features I wanted for late autumn or winter travel, plus a great fit. It doesn’t make me look like the Michelin Man! There’s shaping through the waist, the hood is removable, it has a two-way zipper, and the down itself is supposed to be more water-resistant and quicker drying than standard down. It’s offered in Regular, Petite, Tall, Plus and Petite Plus sizes!! While I would have liked a snap closure as well as the zipper, I think for a few days this will be just fine. (I do have one more coat on order to try, but I think this one will be hard to beat.) I may also bring a packable water-resistant shell I can throw on over the top in case of heavy rain.

I’m late to the party, but have finally begun reading some Nancy Mitford. I decided to start with her first novel, Highland Fling, which is both acerbic and hilarious. She skewers her milieu (British upper crust, circa 1930’s) with delicacy and finesse, and intermittently with discernible affection. I can tell already I’m going to be Mitford fan.

I finally got my annual flu vaccination yesterday. I used to dismiss the idea of flu shots, but have noticed that since I’ve been getting them, I seem to be MUCH less susceptible to every odd virus that comes down the pike. Your Mileage May Vary and Ask Your Doctor. Anyhow, I get one every autumn now. And I figure I’m doing my part for the common good by not harboring a disease that’s potentially deadly for some folks. Consider this a gentle reminder if you’ve been meaning to get one and putting it off.

Have you ever had the experience that once something is in your attention sphere you suddenly seem to notice it everywhere? Like red convertibles or that song you haven’t heard since 1987 and now it’s on every intercom in every store? It’s been that way for me with wool-free sweaters since I made a point to look for them. Just since I put together yesterday’s post, I’ve spotted about a dozen more with potential. So here’s my little collection…

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  1. November 3, 2016 / 3:32 am

    That coat looks very practical!
    The Mitford sisters rock.

  2. Rosemary Raughter
    November 3, 2016 / 5:37 am

    So glad you’re enjoying Nancy Mitford. Just wait till you get to her masterpieces, Love in a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love. I reread both every few years, and never get tired of them.
    First time to comment, but have been reading your blog for years and really enjoy it.

  3. November 3, 2016 / 5:55 am

    I like the look of the coat, but in practice I’ve found zip-front-only outerwear to be less-than versatile. I much prefer the Eddie Bauer “Girl on the Go” insulated trench coat that you reviewed on October 24. I bought it in black — perfect!! Thanks for your good recommendations.

  4. Pam
    November 3, 2016 / 6:15 am

    Finally, a flattering design for a down coat! Very nice. I’ve always wondered why designers don’t “get it” -many of us want to wear something other than boxy and horizontal “shaping”. Even when my body looked like a tall , skinny stick in my younger days, those horizontal lines in most down coats made me look like the M Man. Thanks for sharing this pretty find.

  5. Ellen
    November 3, 2016 / 6:17 am

    I love my Lands End Packable down coat (above the knee length for me) and it kept me warn through most of last years (admittably mild) Minnesota weather. Long zippers on coats have their issues, ,ost of which can be fixed by rubbing bar soap along the track, You might want to do that before you go.

  6. November 3, 2016 / 7:03 am

    I have a Land’s End Down Parka, but don’t believe it’s the packable one. I love mine. I hope this one keeps you very warm and is great to travel with.

  7. June
    November 3, 2016 / 7:20 am

    Nice looking coat. I am in France right now with the sun shining but cool today I am doing fine with a Scottevest Chloe hoodie with a Columbia rain jacket over it; I used similar outerwear 2 years ago with success. I can remove the hoodie warmer layer and easily put it in a reusable grocery sac that I always carry in my purse.

  8. November 3, 2016 / 7:50 am

    Land’s End has been a go to for me for over 35 years for basics and outdoor type clothing. They are reasonably priced for the value, well made, and 100% guaranteed!
    I have a fitted knee length down coat from LE that replaced my old Woolrich Michelin Man coat from 15 years earlier that I only wore in the most extreme weather. It is a zipper only closure also, but when layered with a warm sweater underneath, it has served me very well down to 10 below here in N Indiana.

  9. November 3, 2016 / 9:44 am

    I am so jealous that you have two of my favourite ever novels yet to read. Lovein a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love…are sooo divine. I’ve read both books at least three times. When the late fall cold and rain settles in for a few weeks before the snow…there’s nothing better than a fire in the fireplace, a cup of tea and a little Mitford fix. Enjoy.

  10. Lynn
    November 3, 2016 / 11:45 am

    Thanks for more non-wool sweaters. One of my favorite brands is 525 America. I think I’ve picked up a few great sweaters from them in small boutiques but they probably are available online.

  11. tish868
    November 3, 2016 / 12:35 pm

    My, my Lands’ End. . . I’ve always liked shopping for gab trousers and the occasional coat because they offer Tall, which I know is absolutely not an issue for you.

    So, is this one your final choice? I like the way it nips in at the waist.

    • Susan B
      November 3, 2016 / 1:26 pm

      I’m pretty sure I’m going with this style, either in navy or black. 🙂

  12. November 3, 2016 / 6:23 pm

    Wow! I have to say that is the nicest down coat I’ve seen. It’s got a shape! Wear it well!

  13. M McCown
    November 3, 2016 / 6:32 pm

    Great post and I just added the LE parka to my shopping cart. The phenomenon you mention has a called Baader-Meinhof and is a fascinating thing!

  14. Stephanie Anderson
    November 3, 2016 / 10:33 pm

    I’m amused by your search for non-wool sweaters, because I’ve searched high and low for all-wool non-cashmere sweaters! Here in Northern California, most sweaters in stores seem to be either cashmere or some cotton/rayon/acrylic blend. Even my old reliable Talbots has a lousy selection of wool sweaters. I did find a v-neck merino wool cardigan in the Lands End catalogue.

  15. Rhonda
    November 4, 2016 / 2:37 pm

    I have this Lands End parka and wore it in Rome last winter. It just got cold enough in Boston last week to break it out for the season. Your review of the features is accurate and I do recommend it. However my stitching started to unravel very early on. Lands End would have exchanged but they were sold out. I think this coat sells out quickly.

  16. Valerie
    November 4, 2016 / 8:14 pm

    So I ordered the Eddie Bauer trench. I am not into anything even remotely puffy.Nice trench but the xl is really large. So they state easy exchanges. Nope.Three days.Three different people in customer service- including a supervisor. Three different answers to who do I return this through?
    I am hoping to get the exchange fixed but will not be ordering from this company again.

    • Susan B
      November 5, 2016 / 7:15 am

      Valerie, I’m sorry to hear that! Good customer service is SO important.

  17. Rebecca Johnson
    November 28, 2016 / 1:28 pm

    Susan, I meant to ask a while back which color you ordered in this jacket. I’m toying between black and grey. Also curious about the packable shell you mentioned.

    • Susan B
      November 28, 2016 / 3:44 pm

      Hi Rebecca, I ordered both colors in the packable down jacket (navy and black) and kept the navy. After considering the packable shell, I decided against it, as the parka has some water resistance, and I’ll also have an umbrella on hand.

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