Friday, October 30, 2015

J.Crew Review: Nordic Parka

PSA: For today (10/30/2015) only, J.Crew is having a huge sale with almost no exclusions! The tiers are $25 off $125+, $75 off $250+, and $175 off $500+. It's a great time to pick up big ticket items you've been eyeing that have been excluded in the past, like the most popular coats and blazers. My recommendation is to stick as close to the bottom of the price tier as possible for the biggest savings. I decided to go ahead and order the following coat (in navy). I also added this versatile wool scarf to crack the top tier. 


Last week I visited J.Crew after school for some window shopping retail therapy. I saw some of the new arrivals in store, but they didn't have everything on my wishlist. Out of the things I saw, there was nothing I had to have at full price (which I try to avoid as a matter of principle anyway), so I left empty-handed. However, I wanted to share my favorite item from my quick try-on session. For reference, I'm 5' 4", 32C-26-34. My usual sizes at J.Crew are 00 and XXS.

Nordic Parka (Item E3977)
Navy XXS

I know it's early to be thinking about winter coats, but I've been wanting to replace my giant ugly puffer (which could pass for a sleeping bag) that I've had for over 4 years. No matter how nice my outfit is underneath, that coat always makes me feel super dowdy when I throw it on over everything. Since it looks so terrible, I try to avoid wearing it as much as possible, even when the temperatures drop low enough that I really ought to. Anyway, I've been looking for a replacement that's warm, has no less than 80% down, and doesn't make me look like the Michelin man. A few weeks ago, I tried on the Canada Goose Trillium for the first time, and while some people think it's overrated, I have to disagree. I tried on down coats from several other brands, including North Face, Marmot, etc., and I think Canada Goose offers a lot of value even for the hefty price. However, I'm not ready to drop $745 on a coat at this point in my life (they're also notorious for NEVER going on sale), so I've been looking for Canada Goose alternatives. There really aren't too many options in my price range that fulfill all of my other criteria.

Enter the Nordic parka. J.Crew's website touts it as the warmest coat they've ever made. Since they typically make wool coats that are more decorative than functional, that statement doesn't necessarily say much. In general J.Crew coats are fine if you live in a place with mild winters, but they're laughably insufficient in my opinion for cold winter days on the East Coast or winters in the Midwest. Of course I'm also the kind of person who gets cold easily and hates being cold.

My first impressions of this coat: 1) the quality is surprisingly good, and 2) it offers a lot of value for the price (regularly $450 but may go on sale). For example, it's pretty good in terms of warmth. I wore a thin flannel button-down the day I tried this on, and within minutes I started feeling too warm. That might be due to the coat's double insulation: Thinsulate plus a filling of 80% down/20% feathers. The outer material felt like a durable heavy waxed cotton (actually it's a waterproof blend of 85% polyester, 15% cotton), which I found a little too stiff but not a dealbreaker. Both the outer handwarmer pockets and the regular hip pockets had fleece lining. The sleeves had cuff extenders with holes for your thumbs. The hood was gigantic/very deep, had a faux-fur ruff, and was also lined in fleece. The back of the hood had an adjuster so that you can control where it sits on your head. If I remember correctly, there was also an internal drawstring waist and additional internal pockets. That's a ton of features you don't see on comparably priced coats!

Of course the design is not completely perfect. For one, it was incredibly heavy! It's possibly the heaviest coat I have ever tried on in my life. The thing seriously felt like it weighed at least 5 pounds. I could see that being an issue if you had to carry it around in your arms for a long period of time or keep putting it on and taking it off. Another issue: the outer buttons on the button flap are a pain to do up and undo. It would be even more difficult if you had to do it while wearing gloves. I would prefer if they had used snaps instead. As it is, I would most likely leave the coat zipped but unbuttoned, although then cold air could get into the coat through the zipper.

Comparing this against the Trillium (which is my gold standard), I would say that this coat is a strong competitor. At almost half the price, the Nordic parka is similarly warm and durable feeling. The Trillium is probably warmer, but the Nordic parka should be sufficient for all but possibly the coldest of winter days. It's decently stylish, albeit not as slim as the Trillium from the front. However, it does look slimmer when viewed from the side. If you're interested in this coat, go with your regular size. I'm wearing an XXS in the pictures, and there's definitely enough room to layer underneath. Anyway, this parka definitely makes my fall/winter wishlist!

Verdict: Surprise like. True to size. On my wishlist. Worth buying for 25-30% off.


  1. Ooooh that looks so nice. :) I have an old down coat from the North Face that probably needs upgrading soon... I just bought a different coat, though, and I'm hoping that one is warm enough for the days in between fall-like and extreme-winter-like haha.

    1. I'm really excited to get it in the mail! Not that it's cold enough to wear yet but still lol. Which coat did you get?

  2. I'm in the market for a new down coat too. My previous one actually is warm enough for me, even in the fairly brutal NYC winters that we've had in the last few years, but the zipper gets badly stuck and I'm afraid it could break for good anytime. I was originally thinking I'd end up with something a bit more sporty/utilitarian like something from North Face, but I ended up ordering something from Elie Tahari that tries to be a bit more stylish because I saw it on sale (though that's not something I need from my down coats, and I'm not sure it actually makes the coat look better).

    1. My old coat is warm enough too (although I'd love for it to be even warmer), but it just looks so dowdy that I never want to wear it. I tried on a few North Face coats, but nothing really stood out to me. I looked at some Elie Tahari coats just now, and they seem nice. Can't wait to see what you got!

  3. I just thanked you on your IG, but wanted to leave my thanks here too. I really appreciate your detailed review of this parka, it answered all of my questions (fit, especially). I ordered it today with the promo, can't wait to wear this and be warm outside again!