Reader Q: What Kind of Coat Do I Need For Winters in MI? (Think: Chic Puffers, Parkas, or Ski Jackets)


I’ve been getting a ton of reader questions about warm winter coats.  I loved Jennifer’s especially since MI will always have a special place in my heart:

I need your help!  We’ve recently relocated from Central NJ to Ann Arbor (which means I won’t likely run into you at Clay – what a gem! – wearing a copycat outfit) and it is November 1st and I desperately need advice on what I will need to keep warm.  I have an old J Crew car coat that needs to be replaced and I’m unsure of what I will actually need to keep warm here.  

Sooooo….how to keep warm in MI?  It is not easy.  Every Christmas we go home to Marquette and it’s always a shock to the system.  It gets SO. SERIOUSLY. Cold.  Like forty below.  No exaggeration, the actual temperature (without windchill) will read -40F.  Last year, Raines learned not to play outside without wrapping his entire face (ninja style) in a scarf, else he’d end up with severely windburned cheeks.  (Not that it would stop him.  So I learned that First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream – bought for post-chemo – ALSO worked wonders on his red, chapped cheeks.  In case any of you have little snowplaying lunatics like R.)

But let’s talk coats!!  The first thing I did was call Scotti, my MI-dwelling sister to discuss.  I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going overboard.  NOPE.  We were in violent agreement.  If you really need to be warm in a MI-like winter, you’ve basically got three options:  Puffers, Parkas or Ski/Snowboard Jackets (these typically require layers).


Zara |Madewell

 Vince | S13/NYC Mogel | Lands End

The good news is that there are some seriously amazing options, at all price points.  So we rounded up a bunch (my personal favs are above).  I tend to like the shorter jackets or the ones that juuust cover the bum (the long parkas look ridiculous on me, especially with snowpants – I look like a short, wide, man)…and Scotti prefers belted coats (show off her waist, balance the bass).  Here’s what caught our eye:




Stay warm!




  1. Is it wrong that I wish it were appropriate to wear a full length down coat where I live (Bay Area)? I don’t want to *have* to wear one, but they look so cozy.

  2. Welcome to Ann Arbor, Jennifer! It won’t get as cold as Marquette (thank god) but it will get cold. I have the Land’s End shimmer down coat in a cool rust sort of color, and it’s been a lifesaver the past few winters. I have no idea how I stayed warm before owning that coat. However, I was so sad to have to bust it out last week ALREADY. I was hoping I’d have some time before needing the puffer, but when the high was around 20? It had to happen.

  3. Thanks for the fantastic roundup! I’m in Michigan as well and ordered this coat from Lands’ End a few weeks ago in Dark Stone Heather – – I’m debating about the fit on me and if I’ll actually keep it but the heathered color and contrasting color detail inside the coat are really nice. Can we also talk boots now as well? After last winter’s Polar Vortex I’m all about updating my winter gear and have been searching high and low for great winter boots that are functional but still cute. I’m thinking seriously about Sorels but don’t know if I’ll feel too clunky in them. Thoughts??

    • I would highly recommend a wool base layer. I bought some wool leggings from Sierra Trading Post last year to use for polar vortex runs and ended up getting another pair so I could wear them under jeans too! They make a huge difference.

  4. I second the request on how to style a down parka…and down vest…casually : )
    Also have to mention Eddie Bauer has some wicked good fit on their down parkas! I’m from South Dakota… The cold has already hit here and will only get worse! : )

  5. I love this post! I now know what coat I’ll be asking Santa to bring me this Christmas 🙂 I’d also like to ask him for some boots…I second the request for a follow up boot post. I’m in search of the Chicago boot trifecta: warm, dry, and WALKABLE!

  6. I have North Face’s Artic Down Parka: It’s a bit much for Philly, but oh so warm. It, along with 2-3 layers underneath, helped keep me toasty last December in Lake Placid (-25F). I found it at Nordstrom rack at KOP for about $200, but at full price it’s well worth it. I like it because it has a streamlined exterior and a “waist”. Their Brooklyn park basically looks the same, btu has a belt: NF did a great job with these. The typical NF logo on the rear shoulder is color-matched to the fabric so it doesn’t scream.

  7. Thank you for this! I ordered a few to ‘shop’ at home. As a heads up, the T Tahari grey sweater one — I was in love with, but it fell short in person (just not well made.) I wanted to keep it, but it would need to be on steeper sale to be worth it. 2 more in the mail… I’ll let you know!

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