Guide What to Look for in Winter

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All other things considered, your parka covers the majority of your body, and it carries the bulk of the workload for keeping your body warm. The first thing to look for in a winter parka is quality insulation. Good insulation does this by creating thousands of tiny air pockets, which trap warmth inside the shell of the jacket and create a barrier between your body and the outside world.

Under ideal conditions, down insulation is the warmest available for the weight.

What to Look for in Winter — RICHARD LJOENES

The warmth of a down coat is measured in two numbers: fill power and fill weight. A stiffer down will keep you warmer for longer and will have a higher fill power. The fill weight measures how much of the down is in the coat. Once again, a higher number means warmer insulation.

Synthetic insulation is made from finely-woven synthetic material, such as polyester, nylon, rayon, or acrylic. This material is intended to mimic the qualities of down as much as possible. Not too long ago, synthetic had a poor reputation for quality, but in recent years several major brands like PrimaLoft and Polarguard have put out quality products that are exceptionally reliable.

In simplest terms, you aren't limited in choice just because of the change of season. If anything, it opens up an entirely new world of possibilities. So as you focus on the styles that best speak to your sensibilities, put a winterized slant on your decision-making process.

For example, the average riding boot—the one you might literally wear to ride—is not going to cut it when it's hovering around nine degrees outside and there's a threat of snowfall. The key is to look for a cold-weather version of said shoe. It will fall in line in terms of silhouette and outward style, but contain the very necessary elements that make it more compatible with winter wear.

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The same goes for other styles that might catch your eye. If you love a great pair of women's ankle boots for the office, for example, then you have your pick of thousands. What sets the winter contenders apart is the addition of warming features that protect your feet, no matter what the conditions are like outside. And if you do happen to favor ankle-length boots instead of those with longer profiles, pay some attention to what you wear on the bottom, too.

Soft slack's for women or leggings in wool or fleece are ideal for helping you stay warm on those oh-so-brisk days. Now, the important part—yes, once the cold rain begins to happen during early to late fall, the way rain boots perform ultimately takes precedence over how they look. The good news is that modern options factor both aesthetics and mechanics into their construction, making it easier than ever to find a pair of boots that meets all of your needs.

What to look for specifically? It's all about efficiency.

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While you're admiring its color, fabric, and eye-catching details, spare a thought for the addition of outdoor-worthy extras that set them apart from basic fashion boots. Think about what fall and winter bring to your region in terms of water, then zero in on features that are built to stand up those challenges. Among the most important is a weather-resistant material or waterproof shell that will lock out moisture, keeping your feet dry.

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Also key? The soles. Unless you don't mind showing off your lack of skating prowess on an unexpectedly icy and wet day, it's best to avoid any type of sole that might make you slip. Another must-focus point?

Get Acquainted With the Functional Side When it Rains

What's inside your boots matters just as much as everything on the outside. Finding all of those in one—on a silhouette that you love—may seem like a tall order, but it's not quite so challenging once you know precisely how to find rain-worthy boots that operate like a dream.

As you search for attractive materials, look for key terms that inform you they won't succumb when exposed to a little bit of moisture—and prepare to be surprised by what you find.