Despite a warm start to the winter, students were welcomed back to campus by freezing temperatures and over a foot of snow on the ground. Naturally, a change in wardrobe accompanied the climate transition. Students broke out their warmest coats, sturdiest boots, and thickest sweaters to brave the first frigid weekend of the year.
While it may be easily agreed upon that staying warm is the top priority in selecting winter apparel, there is, as with all fashion choices, an underlying meaning to popular clothing choices. In past years, the debate over the high-priced Canada Goose jackets centered on the coat’s unique patch, signifying not only the brand’s name, but also a price tag of at least 645 dollars. Similarly prized parkas made by the likes of North Face and Patagonia are in the 300 dollar and 200 dollar ranges, respectively.
Many students have invested in name brand winter clothing while keeping budget in mind. Jamie Marvin ’19 recently purchased a new Guess coat.
“Most of my winter clothes are either, I don’t even know…I usually get a lot of peacoats from Kohl’s, which end up falling apart,” Marvin said. “Now I have my first name brand coat. This is Guess, but I only got it because it was like, two-thirds off on Black Friday. I don’t really look at brands a lot, so I haven’t really noticed any particular brands that people wear.”
Michelle Fisher ’19 also doesn’t pay much attention to different brands, but she has considered the appeal of such popular choices.
“I’m kind of in it for cheap and warm, I guess,” Fisher said. “I got my winter coat from Land’s End. It was on a half-off Black Friday sale, but I really don’t pay attention to brands…If I see someone else’s coat, I’ll see the Canada Goose thing, but that’s the only really recognizable brand for coats. And I would assume that the Canada Goose coats must be warm, if so many people have them, but I’ve never tried one on.”
Choices that seem less utilitarian, however, are unwise in Fisher’s view.
“Patagonia, those fleeces and stuff, they’re very popular but I feel like they’re not very useful, so I would never get one,” she said.
Does geography play into perception of coats on campus? Fisher, from Georgia, is admittedly not as familiar with these seemingly ubiquitous brands as students from the Northeast might be.
Alyssa Glanzer ’16, who grew up surrounded by North Faces, remembers her excitement upon receiving one for her birthday. However, when she came to the University, she realized that it did not protect her from the cold as well as she had thought it would, and instead began purchasing Patagonia gear.
“I get to college, and my North Face winter coat is actually not that warm, and can’t really survive the Connecticut winter,” Glanzer said. “I think that North Face is ridiculous for not having hoods on all their jackets. And then I tried on my friend’s Patagonia, and it was a lot warmer and looked exactly the same—plus, the Patagonia had a hood.”
Among wearers of the infamous Canada Goose jackets, utility reigned supreme as the reason for their purchases. Abigail Smith ’17, who has lived in London and Dallas, sees Canada Goose as an investment to combat the northeastern cold.
“Freshman year, I had a black down coat,” Smith said. “It was a hand-me-down from my mother. Loved it so much. Great coat. Really stylish. Didn’t have a hood. So that was a problem with the snow and everything. My sophomore year, winter was rolling around the corner, and I looked to my friend and said,‘Which coat do you guys find is most practical with all the snow?’ And I chose Canada Goose after weighing all the options. There were a few other things that I was looking into, but I thought this was most suitable for this type of weather because it keeps me the warmest.”
Hannah Skopicki ’18 echoed these sentiments. A Canada Goose coat is a new and welcome addition to her winter wardrobe, a decision she has yet to question.
“I picked [Canada Goose] because after last year, having a not-so-warm winter coat, I needed something exponentially warmer to survive the cold,” she said. “I have not been disappointed.”
Skopicki has been questioned about the cost of the coat before, but asserts that she is still happy with her purchase.
“I’ve been walking, and people have been saying, ‘How expensive is that?’ Or, ‘Why would you spend so much money on it?’ I spent it for my comfort, and I haven’t regretted my purchase at all, but I have gotten faced with the ‘Why would you get that?’ or, ‘Why do you think that’s a reasonable purchase?’ many times already,” she said.
Ronald Kelly ’19 of South Carolina does not own a Canada Goose coat but has found the right level of warmth and comfort in the clothing he currently wears.
“Especially for this winter, which [is] the coldest it’s been yet, [it] hasn’t been that severe even for me, so if I find that my cheap-ass coat and sweater layering keeps me warm, there’s no need to buy a multi-hundred dollar coat,” he said.
Perhaps in this unseasonably warm winter, though, the utility of such coats is less hotly debated, as they are being worn less than usual. Alison Denzer-King ’16, also of Georgia, has never taken much notice of brands, though she did note that common L.L. Bean Boots have always been prevalent.
“[Popular brands] were definitely not something I was aware of when I came to campus, so I just sort of bought stuff at R.E.I. or wherever I could find it that seemed warm and affordable,” King said. “….This could be influenced by the fact that it hasn’t been that cold yet, but I feel that [style] has been a little bit less uniform. But I just remember that the first year I was here, everyone had the same kind of boots.”
There is no uniform clothing choice on campus, nor is there a uniform opinion toward the noticeably popular, expensive brands of Canada Goose, Patagonia, The North Face, and the like. Maybe, if the planet continues to heat at this rate, nobody will need a coat and the whole problem of choosing will be resolved.