Learning to distinguish between practical and impractical purchases is an important (albeit difficult) skill to acquire when one is an avid consumer of fashion and style blogs. I have made innumerable mistakes in the past on spur-of-the-moment purchases (with Goodwill donation slips as my witness) and I promised myself that I would take more care in vetting purchases.

Utility jackets (and similarly designed military jacket, parkas, army jackets, cargo jackets, field jacket, etc.) piqued my interest early on but I did not consider them seriously until I started spotting them regularly on Cee, Jean, and Blair’s blogs.

I finally bit the bullet this winter after trying on several styles and scouring the web for feasible options. I ordered three sizes of the Zara girls’ parka worn in this post to compare (gotta love free shipping and free return shipping) and had a Goldilocks moment when making my decision.

The jacket features zipper closure, snap buttons, and a detachable vest which doesn’t add much warmth for New England winters but could be practical for those who live in tepid climates.
This jacket would score a perfect 10 on my rubric if it had side, on-seam pockets and was longer in the size that I ended up keeping but it was fairly true to my original criteria.

Zara Parka with Detachable Waistcoat | J. Crew Faded Chambray Popover | Forever 21 Polka Dot Sweater (similar here and here) | J. Crew Classic Mini in Felted Wool | HUE tights | Zara Office City Bag | Boutique 9 Zanny Knee-High Boots (also here, here, here and here)

I ordered the three largest sizes (9/10, 11/12, and 13/14) to try. I at first leaned toward size 13/14 for the length (I was gung-ho about getting a style that was mid-thigh length) but ultimately decided in favor of size 11/12 for the less overwhelming fit.

I normally wear size 13/14 in Zara girls’ dresses (for longer length) but can get away with a smaller size in jackets and outerwear, of which I typically prefer a slimmer fit.

size 9/10
size 11/12
size 13/14

If I hadn’t purchased the Zara parka, I probably would’ve gone with the Abercrombie & Fitch Skyler Parka (pictured below in XS) but a highly-visible Abercrombie patch on the right sleeve made the retail price of $120 hard to swallow. The material is less structured and therefore not as bulky in appearance.

Abercrombie & Fitch Skyler Parka – size XS (currently sold out/retail tag here)

I was also eying this Brooks Brothers Girls’ Cotton Twill Coat which recently went on sale and also has removable lining. I am slightly annoyed at myself for pulling the trigger on the Zara jacket without giving this a try but have worn the Zara jacket a few times already and love how well it complements “girly” pieces that dominate my closet.

Brooks Brothers Girls’ Cotton Twill Coat

Army-inspired jackets, yay or nay?

(For additional options, consider these: J. Crew Downtown Field Jacket, Topshop Hooded Parka, Burberry Taffeta Drawcord Parka, Forever 21 Utility Drawstring Jacket, ASOS Utility Parka, Hunter Lightweight Field Jacket, and Topshop Short Hooded Parka)

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