Fitted down jackets, contoured to the body, often with a hood. Much like anything featuring Jamie Laing or rabies, they are to avoided at all costs.
We all know the media is rarely critical of clothing — everything has to be wonderful because the advertising department says so. But I don’t have that problem. I can tell it like I see it. And besides, I’m often asked by non-menswear obsessives for a steer that doesn’t require the complexities of a Japanese proxy service, so here goes…
If you are considering buying a Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Parka or any garment that looks even vaguely like one, don’t. If you already own one, give it to someone, anyone, donate it to charity, give it to Coats4Calais, just get it out your house.
Harsh? Maybe. But this is the cruel truth of clothing, or more accurately trends. At their most saturated they become unignorable, a virulent optical pestilence. And we have reached peak fitted down jacket.
Once you spot one, you can’t stop seeing more and more and more, they can’t be unseen. They’re at the check out, on the platform, at the bar, in the park; look there’s one straining to contain a paunch, there’s someone trying to look Italian with their’s stuffed under a blazer. And here come the girls: a gaggle of Stepford Wives, cork wedges, Longchamp handbags and yes… a wall of ghastly black fitted down jackets.
I went to Wells in the West Country over the holidays and I was surprised they let me in. I was the only person not wearing a fitted down jacket. Beneath the commanding spires of Wells Cathedral the entire city waddled about in thin sandwiches of polyester, nylon and feathers. Irrespective of gender, age or physique, everyone zipped to the chin in body-conscious mediocrity.
It’s almost not the garment itself I find so unpleasant, but its universality. We’re like a futuristic Star Trek civilisation who’ve chosen to forego matching silver jumpsuits in favour of hooded refuse sacks.
There’s actually something quite spooky about it. Wells may be England’s smallest city, but the sheer volume of fitted down jackets it manages to accommodate is unsettling. It’s a land of pod-people, sartorial doppelgängers on every corner, the constant rustle of man-made fibres, yet no one seems to notice. Just identikit dead-eyed shufflers — a ghoulish omnipresence of black synthetic body bags.
The defence would doubtless lead with the practical — they’re warm, they’re cheap. And if those are the only criteria by which you choose to present yourself to the world, then there’s little more to be said. But hidden in the grey area there’s Uniqlo‘s mighty marketing spend and the average Brit’s suffocating fear of standing out. It’s conformity at all costs, especially if it’s £39.90 in the sale.
I also suspect that buried in there somewhere is that most excruciating of menswear triggers: James Bondism. I’m convinced that a lot of men still think that by wearing a tight fitting black down jacket they’ll look more sleek and sexy, a bit techy and modern, crucially, a bit like Daniel Craig. They won’t. Obviously they won’t. Nevertheless in any city across the land you’ll see men of all shapes and sizes, trussed into body-con puffer wear, all imagining they are on a mission to rescue a Russian ice-skating protege while queuing for a McMuffin.
So there you have it. The fitted down jacket. A garment that manages to appear simultaneously greasy and crispy, while boasting the sophistication of a Roblox avatar. The beans on toast of jackets. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.