Essential functional & practical winter parka

Wednesday, 5 February 2014
functionalcoat-1 functionalcoat-2
Outfit: Barbour vintage troop parka (30% off), Zadig & Voltaire sweater (similar here), Helmut Lang t-shirt, Zara jeans, Louis Vuitton stole, Louis Vuitton Speedy 35 Bandouliere and Zara boots.

I’ve just about had it with the constant rain (I don’t think the roof on my flat can handle more rain too) and strong winds. The rivers have overfilled and flooded the surrounding area. The constant onslaught of rain and the ever present grey skies have a way of snuffing out any enthusiasm. pfffffffft…….........

I've been on a hunt for a waterproof hooded winter coat for the past few months. Buying a parka is always a bit grim. I guess it’s a reminder of the dreary weather we’re having (biting my tongue very hard here trying to suppress what I REALLY think of the weather). It’s unexciting because functional and practical outerwear ain't all that pretty to look at. Nevertheless, a good waterproof jacket is essential here in the U.K. Oh, and a pair of comfy boots. The search took forever because.......... weeeelllll....... my list of criteria is pretty darn long and borderline anal. I don’t want to buy a jacket and realized it was a mistake. And then fork out more £££ to get another. 

Okay, here goes...... This parka's gotta be/have
- waterproof
- a large hood (preferably with faux fur lining) but not lightweight that it flips right back when the wind blows. Umbrellas are pretty pointless here.
- long enough to cover my butt
- a decent lining so I don’t freeze to death 
- not crazy expensive as I don’t care for an empty bank account
- slimmer cut. I don’t want to look like a dwarfette who had one scone too many
- well made so that I don't have to buy another in a hundred years


I ended up going for a Barbour jacket albeit one that's been redesigned to look more contemporary. Although, the husband has quite a Barbour jacket collection, I hadn't realize how difficult it was to nab one in my size. Everything was sold out during the sale. I was lucky enough to get my hands on this vintage troop parka at 30% off. First up, it's heavy. It's a substantial jacket with thick padding and a quilted Union Jack lining (I know......I just love the cheesiness of it all). Yes, it ticked all the boxes above. The added pros are
1) the multitude of pockets including ones that are hidden inside. Good luck to the pickpocket trying to steal something from me.
2) drawstrings on either side for a slimmer fit.
3) there are buttons behind the faux fur lining so you can turn it inside out. It'll probably protect your face more in a snowstorm
4) the jacket's made in England (I love heritage brands)

kylie copy

Here's Kylie in her waxed cotton parka. She sourced a hood from an army supply shop, stitched the fur that she picked up from a vintage shop. Such a neat idea to revive a vintage jacket.

Photography: Kylie & Me, edited by me.


  1. Both of you look great! I'm impressed by her sewing ability and creativity!

    1. So am I. I still can't put a thread through a needle..... pfffft

  2. I love it Marlene! Such a perfect coat - I didn't realize that ASOS sold Barbour either - when I was searching for parkas the other day this never showed up! xx

    1. It's silly because I did the same search. You'll have to type in Barbour or else you'll never find it. Weird, huh?

  3. That parka looks great on you! Definitely functional and practical, but also a beautiful coat! Sorry that it's been raining that much. It was even on the news here.

  4. You two look amazing in your parkas!

  5. Can you comment on the sizing please? I have a Barbour Beadnell in UK 8 and find it a bit snug. I normally take size small for coats so I can wear sweater underneath. TIA!!!

    1. Hiya! I find the Barbour vintage trooper parka is true to size. I normally wear UK 8 and the parka fits me well in this size. I can still wear my thickest knitted sweater and I'll be able to comfortably zip it up.

  6. I had a vintage Gamefair Barbour I sold to a guy in the States. It looked a lot like the one Kylie is wearing.

  7. Love this coat! Was just saying to the hubs the other day that I really need something warmer... :) I've also been seeing stories of the deluge in the news--it sounds awful :/


  8. Mine is a Mango, in forrest green with removable lining. Smallest size I could find but still it reaches my knees and I could even wear it with a light puff jacket underneath... It was actually planned to be that be (yes I really feel the cold) but as we are facing drastically this winter a general warming (not new unfortunately), I never tried it, not cold enough. And as the parka is pretty casual? I did not wear it very often either (not realy possible with my work clothes...), only on week end days. As for Barbour, I confess I would never I thought of it before you mentioned it (in my mind typycal british gentry style with Hunter, tweed ....). Do they have small sizes: I would need a UK 6 (or should it be a 4?). Here where I live Barbour are very expensive even with sales price (which are ridiculously low here).Should I wait to come to London then ?

    1. I have a friend who's tiny (and I thought I was pretty small) and she wears a Barbour in size UK 6. You don't want to go any smaller especially if you're buy the slim fitting parkas. The arm holes are narrower but you still need room for layering. I know there's a restriction on Barbour clothes being shipped outside of the UK, particularly if you're buying from ASOS or Barbour directly.

      I would suggest My-Wardrobe especially if they're running a voucher code sale. They ship internationally. You'll have to be quick though with these guys. They have limited selection and with the added discounts, stock just fly out the door. I couldn't find any in my size. And you're right, Barbour's pretty expensive outside of the UK.

    2. many thanks for your answer and the tips, never thought of it! And again I deeply apologize because once again my message is full of typos. I swear I know how to handle my fingers when I am typing (well normally at least) but typing on a tiny laptop at work is not so easy (says the girl who need excuses.. shame!).

    3. Not to worry about typos. My blog posts are littered with them too. I found a company that's offering FREE worldwide shipping for Barbour jackets. Click on the first photo on the shopping widget. That'll take you to a similar jacket to mine which is currently 40% off. It's basically the same thing without a hood. I think the price is approximately £105 which is a heck a lot cheaper than what I'm seeing at online stores outside of the UK.

  9. Lovely parka - suits your style perfectly because at the end of the day, you need to feel good in it too. And there's nothing like a bit of fur around the hood for a smidgeon of luxe. Is it a full body turn hood or does it move with you?

    1. It becomes more like a full body hood if you flip the faux fur lining inside out. I like that flexibility especially for someone like me who wears glasses.

  10. Love both of your parkas! The texture of your coat Marlene is perfect and I love the furry detailing that your friend has added to hers, such a nice touch. :)

    Take care and enjoy the rest of your sunday,
    Daniella xox

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