The parka turns posh and practical

A model wears an Anna Sui design at New York fashion week. Picture: Getty
A model wears an Anna Sui design at New York fashion week. Picture: Getty
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GET down in the hood with a posh and practical coat, writes Karen Dacre

THE parka has had a bad rap in recent years. The practical winter coat that fell from the hands of Liam Gallagher into those of the school-run brigade, it joins the hoodie, the velour tracksuit and Ugg boots in a canon of clothing best known as “things to wear when it’s two degrees and the red wine has run out”.

A wardrobe necessity which possesses about as much glamour as a 24-pack of Andrex Extra Long, the parka in its green, faux-fur-trimmed glory is generally considered to be a ubiquitous choice – but not an inspired one.

At least this was the case before Alexander Wang got his hands on the style. Choosing a basic parka as the foundation for the outerwear in his latest autumn/winter Balenciaga offering, Wang elevated this pedestrian coat to a divine fashion sphere. His interpretation, a masterpiece of sorts, comes with intricate zip-detailing, luxurious quilting and, yes, you guessed it, a whopper of a price tag. The US-based designer is joined by Stella McCartney, who has flowing parkas in her green and rich navy, and by Hedi Slimane, who riffed on Gallagher’s signature in his collection for Saint Laurent.

On the high street, parkas have also taken a turn for the posh – particularly among middle-market brands. Whistles has a gorgeous offering of nicely crafted parkas this season, as do French favourites Sandro and Maje, which will ensure you enjoy a more stylish trip to the off-licence on Friday night.

Of course, the thing with this season’s parka is that it’s no longer appropriate attire for your local Costcutter, but rather a cold-weather must-have that’s intended to take you into the office in style and on to whatever evening occasion you fancy.

The joy of a posh parka is its flexibility. When chosen wisely, a parka looks great over a pair of smart black trousers and properly sexy when strewn over a strappy party dress. It’s also a widely practical choice, particularly for those who seek solace under the hood of a cosy winter coat and find the threat of another battle with an umbrella and a gale-force wind too much to bear.

When shopping for the posh parka of your dreams, stick to neutral shades – navy, black and jade green work best – and avoid shiny fabrics such as nylon. And when it comes to silhouette, seek out long-length parkas that fall on the knee or below (NB: the posh parka looks great with bare legs) and try to avoid those that bulk out your shoulders or waistline. Trim-wise, and regardless of whether faux fur or the real thing is your preference, opt for a thick, textured trim that feels as good as it looks.

Truly, there’s never been a better time to hug a hoodie.