The Best Winter Outerwear, According To Someone In Antarctica

Whenever we complain that it's fah-reezing outside, we find ourselves thinking of all the people in the world living in even colder climates, like Alaska and Antarctica. They know cold in the truest sense of the word and could probably school us fashion folk in dressing for it properly.
As it happens, we recently had the opportunity to talk with a woman who's lived in both of those locations. After graduating from Brown University last May, Alaska native Rachel Kaplan accepted a grant to work with the United States Antarctic Program on the Antarctic Peninsula. There, Kaplan is a field technician on an oceanographic study at Palmer Station.
"I'm from Fairbanks, Alaska, located at 64.8 degrees north latitude," Kaplan says, "which is cool because Palmer is located at 64.8 degrees south latitude. They're two cold places, but cold in quite different ways and requiring different types of outerwear." The key to frigid-weather dressing, according to Kaplan, is layers. "They trap body heat between them, creating extra insulation, and can be adjusted if you get too hot." This logic isn't necessarily new, but it does serve as a great reminder to those of us who sometimes favor fashion over function.
If you are dealing with polar-vortex-worthy conditions, says Kaplan, "what's really central to staying warm is staying dry or, if that's not possible, wearing layers that will stay warm when wet." And, faux fillers are just fine: "Although synthetic-down jackets aren't as warm in my experience as real down, they're great for cold weather coupled with rain or wet snow (like Chicago, Boston, Portland, New York). There are a lot of great, updated options every year, like The North Face Thermoball or the Patagonia Nano Puff." Synthetic, down, and then some, coat options for women are improving every year, says Kaplan, and the "marshmallow" look isn't as prevalent anymore. "It's actually possible to be both fashionable and warm."
Ahead, we talk more coats with Kaplan — because we're inclined to trust whatever she deems warm and durable — and offer a few weather-resistant toppers to keep toasty in this winter.
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"When it comes to picking a jacket, I think it's important to remember that, while it may be expensive, if you get the right one, you'll wear it and love it for years," suggests Kaplan.
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"It's worth looking for a color that you really like."
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"A lot of jackets, like the Nano Puff and Thermoball, have cool, contrasting zippers and stitching, which make them that much more fun."

Hunter Original Down Coat, $347, available at Hunter.
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"Yesterday, I was huddled in the typical big, red jacket everyone pictures when they think of Antarctica, which is down and specially made for the USAP by Canada Goose. But, the other day, I went hiking in a sports bra! The weather is incredibly variable here because we're right on the water and relatively far north for Antarctica."

Canada Goose Chilliwack Bomber Jacket with Fur Hood, $595, available at Neiman Marcus.
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"At Palmer, my research takes me water sampling in a small boat three days a week, so I always get dressed knowing I might get wet and that the weather could change at any minute. On the boat yesterday, I wore two long-underwear shirts, a down vest (Mountain Hardware — great because it's quite thin), two fleece jackets, and a synthetic-down jacket (North Face Thermoball). It started out chilly and snowing and then suddenly turned warm and sunny."

The North Face Women's Thermoball Full-Zip Jacket, $199, available at The North Face.
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"Hoods are great since we lose so much body heat through our heads...having head protection on a jacket means you can always be that much warmer."

Fjällräven Arktis Parka, $850, available at Fjällräven.
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"Look for a jacket with a detachable hood for extra flexibility."

Columbia Women’s Lay ‘D’ Down™ Jacket, $230, available at Columbia.
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An important reminder: "In all dressing for the cold, especially if you might be outside a long time, the key is definitely layers."

Peuterey Detachable Hooded Coat, $736.76, available at Farfetch.
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According to Kaplan, the best bet is to look for "any designs or details that will make you happy when it's cold outside."

Moncler Leucate, $1,490, available at Moncler.
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"In cold, dry climates (like Fairbanks, Alaska), I wear a 'real' down jacket, like Mountain Hardware, all winter. I love its Ghost Whisperer series because, despite being warm enough for minus-50 degrees Fahrenheit, it isn't too large or poofy. It also has a warm, fuzzy lining around the neck and wrists for extra coziness."

Mountain Hardwear Women's Ghost Whisperer Down Parka, $400, available at Mountain Hardwear.

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