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Function over fashion: Men's coat trends see minor modern upgrades

Quilted puffer coats have made a splash in men’s outerwear in both neutral and bright color palettes. Photo courtesy of westacresblog.com / Special to Forum News Service1 / 2
Style expert Niki Larson says patterns like plaid have been popular this season in men’s outerwear. Photo courtesy of westacresblog.com / Special to Forum News Service2 / 2

FARGO — In the fashion world, women tend to be the risk-takers, trying out new trends in the name of style. Men, on the other hand, tend to play it safe.

"Men's (fashion) is a lot more classic. It doesn't tend to change as much and doesn't tend to grab onto the trends as much as women's," says West Acres Mall style expert Niki Larson. "I think that's just because women get bored of their wardrobe quicker where men really like their classic looks."

In outerwear, the same rules apply.

"You'll see some trendy pieces in men's outerwear when it comes to different silhouettes or collars but, other than that, not much changes."

Although some classic rules still apply, 2018 includes new detail trends men can try to step outside of their comfort zone.

Multi-purpose styles

In 2018, men are looking for outerwear that will fit a variety of occasions.

"They're getting a lot more inventive with men's outerwear so (men) either want to buy different types of coats to wear all the time or there's just a one-for-all that incorporates many styles so you can wear it dressy or casual," Larson says.

For more formal occasions, peacoats are still a go-to, but designers have taken the concept and modernized it.

"Something that's been popping up a little bit more is that mix between a peacoat and an everyday coat," Larson says. "It'll be that wool fabric like a peacoat but maybe there's a zipper, more of a standup collar or front pockets. You'll also see more of a modernized peacoat where there's a zip closure and maybe an extra layer on the inside of quilted material — it's a little warmer and you can wear it more often."

Additionally, quilted puffer jackets first appeared in women's outerwear fashion but have quickly been adapted for men as well.

"It wasn't as popular in previous (years)," Larson says. "Now you're going to see it a lot more, whether it's for the teens, middle age or older demographic. It has spread throughout."

Coats made in 3-in-1 styles typically provide warmth when all pieces are included, giving the option to unzip inner liners and a lightweight outer shell.

For 40- to 50-degree weather, vests have gained momentum in men's outerwear.

"Women kind of grabbed hold of that (trend at first). For a while, it was too feminine for men to wear a vest," says Andrew Herian, the men's outerwear manager at Scheels.

But times have changed.

"You might completely see it swing the other way where women don't wear vests at all and it's just a guy's thing. It could happen," he says.

Hoods, lengths and shapes

Contrary to women's outerwear, men tend toward shorter, boxy coat styles.

"Men's jackets tend to be shorter unless they're an overcoat or a trench," Larson says. "But I have seen longer hemlines on quilted (coats) for colder winter months. They're not nearly as long as women's, obviously, but they are a little longer than previous years."

Most men's coats tend to hit right at the beltline.

"They're not as worried about accentuating their waistline," Herian says.

While women tend to gravitate toward hooded jackets, Herian says most men request jackets without.

Neutrals for the win

This year, women's coats came in a variety of colors, but men's coats are typically more neutral in color.

"I see navy, camel, olive, gray and black," Larson says. "If you're going to see brighter colors, we've seen it more in the puffer coats, whether it's an orange, red or brighter green."

Herian says a brand like Patagonia takes more risks in introducing new colors.

"We do see a little bit of color — brands test out different styles," he says. "The younger crowd usually goes for that stuff — the 18-25 demographic. If you look at everything else in the store, that's usually the demographic that tries the louder stuff on."

This year, prints and patterns have also popped up.

"For men, we've seen actually a lot more prints, like plaid, for something a little bit different. It's not always just that solid color," Larson says.

If the whole coat isn't made from patterned fabric, prints may appear as details — like in the inner collar or sleeve — to add some personality.

"I think when it comes to coats, comfort and functionality is absolutely huge for something you're going to be wearing so often when you're from where we're from," Larson says. "Luckily, there are so many options out there now that meet both of those things while still remaining fresh and forward, without having to buy a new coat every year."

Adding one last touch

While accessories might not be the first thing that comes to mind for men, Herian and Larson recommend these pieces to add warmth and style to your outerwear:

• Hanging scarves. "Especially for peacoats and stuff, you'll see a hanging scarf in plaid or stripes in those neutral or earthy tones," Larson says.

• Beanies and bomber hats. While beanies are a good default, bomber hats are also making a comeback. "For full-on winter wear, we're seeing those bomber hats come back," Larson says. "They're really comfortable and warm so I've seen a lot of brands take it to the next level with different colors and textures. They can be a little more fashion-forward now." Bomber hats are also used for more practical purposes like snow blowing or tailgating in cooler temps. Retro pom beanies also demonstrate state pride.

• Gloves. While women opt for mittens in the name of warmth, men tend to choose gloves for dexterity. "Leather gloves are always a staple for a lot of men — they're a little bit more formal," Larson says. Overall, men prefer a less cumbersome cover for their hands. "Gloves for men are usually not super bulky ones," Herian says. "They want something they can stuff in their pocket when they don't have them on and it's easy to have on when they're in the car driving."

• Sunglasses. Whether skiing and snowboarding or driving, the sun reflected off the snow means sunglasses are a must in winter. "For men, I think aviators have become a classic necessity. They look good on a lot of different men. They also provide the protection you need," Larson says.

Alexandra Floersch

Alexandra Floersch has worked for Forum Communications since February 2015. She is a content producer and photographer who enjoys writing about finance, fashion and home.

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