.... seeing as it doesn't look like it's getting any milder any time soon. It's freezing here. I took the boys to football this morning and even when we got back in the car, it was still zero degrees. But it's beautifully bright and crisp and not remotely damp which means it's perfect parka weather.
Now I have a parka. I love my parka. I have had my parka for 9 years now. And I am still vaguely mortified by how I came about it. Had just moved from London to what I perceived to be the sticks. Plus I'd just given up work with a 2yr old and a 6 week old baby and my old London wardrobe didn't quite work, tramping around in the countryside.
I was rather intimidated by the whole Barbour quilted clan - it really wasn't (and even after 9 years, still isn't) me but I needed a warm, practical (all those years ago that word actually made me shudder) coat.
Which I couldn't find. Until.. one day in the supermarket I saw this lady wearing the most amazing parka. It had what looked like a fur capelet over the shoulders which, I realised on closer inspection, was a hood that you unzip down the middle to make into an oversized collar.
Overtaken with coat lust, I asked her where it was from. She replied, "Oh it was super cheap, I *think* it was from Littlewoods of all places."
And before I knew what I was doing (believe me when I say I had looked everywhere for a coat and had seen nothing that I vaguely liked), I had yanked down the back of her collar to see the label.
Not entirely who was more surprised or mortified - her or me... I remember apologising profusely and grovelling that I had a tiny baby and was sleep deprived etc etc etc. Still to this day, when I remember the episode, a small part of me curls up and dies.
Obviously it didn't stop me heading straight home and spending hours trying to track down what was, I discovered, a completely sold out coat. But all hail the ebay and patience being a virtue, I located a BNWT one a couple of weeks later. At almost double what it had been in the sale at Littlewoods and they only had it in a size 16. Which I have to say, fits like a glove.
And I have worn it every year, without fail, for the past 9 years.
Would I advocate spending a lot of money on a parka? For me, I don't get enough wear out of it to warrant ever replacing with a more expensive version. And it's easy to spend a couple of hundred pounds, up to over a thousand. But for me - I mostly need something that's waterproof, which this isn't. However it's super toasty and on days like today when it's freezing cold but beautifully bright, for being outside with the dog, they are the perfect coat. Easy to layer under (well, it is when you get a size 16... handy drawstring waist means that it fits perfectly) and a change to my regular raincoat that I wear daily for dog walks and sporting duties (the kids' not mine).
I'm asked often about decent outfits for dog walking in and this is the perfect coat for the next couple of months (rain depending..) And since it's very much an extra coat (as you really do need a waterproof one, even though I will admit I pretty much a fair weather dog walker...), I've found some more reasonably priced options.
Well. Apart from this one, but I thought I had to return to the scene of the crime, as I do ever year, to see if they've brought out a similar version to the one I have but they never have done. At least with this one, although it's not cheap, you do get three coat options with it.
South 3 in 1 Parka £110 Parka with fur lining, parka without and the fur lining as a gilet to be worn separately.
V by Very Oversized Casual Parka £65
They also do this one in regular sizing as well on ASOS. If you're tall, you know how hard it is to find coats that fit. Cold ankles are one thing but bracelet sleeves on a parka with chilly wrists are another. And warm knees with this one too.
ASOS Tall Longline Parka £85 And the regular version which is also £85
Khaki Parka with detachable faux fur liner from ASOS was £85 now £59.50
Another great bargain at Zalando with the Twintip Parka in khaki which was £60 now £48 Detachable fur collar.
A paler khaki also from Twintip and this is possibly the bargain of the day.
Twintip Parka in khaki was £70 now £35 again with a detachable fur collar.
They also have this in a black which is still £60 - still a great buy.
Although there is a black Twintip parka in the sale and this would definitely get my seal of approval. An amazing buy.
Twintip parka in black was £70 now £45.50 Same as the paler one above so the fur collar is also detachable.
And another black option if you'd rather not go for the more traditional olive shade.
Faux Fur Lined Lux Parka was £120 now £60
So they don't have to be super expensive and the joy of them is that they don't go out of fashion. It's one of the oldest things in my wardrobe and pretty much every time I wear mine, I am asked where it's from. I will say though, that no one has ever been as rude as I was and unceremoniously yanked down the back of my coat to look at the label. Yet....
Here I am today in mine for a dog walk and taking the boys to footie at the crack of dawn (well - 8.30 which is downright indecent for a Saturday no?)
Parka - South at Littlewoods
Black jumper - Banana Republic
Coated Eden jeggings - Dorothy Perkins
Grey Wellies - Ilse Jacobsen
Cream hat - Amelia Jane
Camel wrist warmers - Topshop
Black Harker cross body bag - Anya Hindmarch
We have have another quiet night in tonight - wading in with more Harry Potter I think. Had my glass of wine last night - just the one but it was rather fabulous. I am now on a shoe mission, was very distracted by the other goodies in the Matches sale. You have been warned... I've been asked for mid heels so mid heels I shall look for. Well.. lower high heels anyway.