An Ode to the Caterpillar Coat

A staff writer for The New Republic puzzled at length over full-length down coats in a piece titled “Against the Caterpillar Coat.” She called these coats “totally unnecessary” and think they “make their wearers look bound at the knees, like they couldn’t take a large step over a puddle of snowmelt if called upon.” She has enough awareness to note that her feelings are “personal, of course,” but ultimately decided that, “there are lines and everybody has to draw them for themselves.”

It’s petty to resent someone for having a preference, of course. But I feel weirdly protective of the “caterpillar coat,” because it’s part of my mom’s winter uniform, and an attack on this type of outerwear feels mildly like an attack on her. For her–someone who grew up in the subtropics–facing the cold is as much a mental battle as it is a physical one, and her overkill of a coat is exactly what she needs to ready herself. It’s armor. It’s refuge. It’s comfort object.

And sure, she might be able to recreate the protection of a down coat with multiple lighter layers, but why bother with all the layers (unless you are a masochist like me) when she can just shed one bulky item when she is back indoors?

Besides, and this might be an unpopular opinion, a wearable sleeping bag is awfully comfy, and were it not for the fact that I’d lose the will to work if I were that warmly cocooned, I’d live in it. 

While J. Crew did not choose to revive the Wintress Belted Down Puffer Coat that I am wearing here this fall, it has made the coat available for Nordstrom in several colors. If you are interested, you can read my review here.

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