For decades, there have been two schools of thought about serious winter wear (the type of winter wear you need in places like Chicago, New York City, Boston, Stockholm, Moscow).
One side goes traditional winter fashion: long coats (camel hair or cashmere double breasted top coasts), maybe some designer down, fur coats for women in major cities.
The other goes technical, adopting the down, Gore-Tex, sophisticated materials and designs of the outerwear worn by people who are involved in outdoor sports and activities: climbers, campers, skiers, skaters and snowboarders.
Which side of the winter wear option you come down on can depend on your location (big city/mountains) and activity (work/outdoor sports). Increasingly, however, folks are discovering this well-tested and prove fact: technical outerwear does a great job under any condition of keeping you warmer, dryer, and comfortable than traditional fashionable winter clothing. The people who participate in winter outdoor sports and the outdoor sports industry have long known that technical gear–with the latest materials and design for function vs. fashion–has always been the way to go. One great jacket from Columbia, The North Face, Patagonia, LLBean, Eddie Bauer, Arteryx or any of the other top brands in the technical outdoor wear industry can take care of you on the slopes or in the canyons of Manhattan on a cold, January evening.
The word is now getting out.
This is a mainstream movement now, as this article from Bloomberg.com shows. And despite what Fran Lebowitz says in the Bloomberg article, not a good idea to take advice on anything to do with being outdoors from someone who once famously said ,”The outside is what you pass through on the way from your cab to your building”.
Full disclosure: I have the traditional cashmere DB overcoat for big city work, but, when conditions are really nasty, I always reach for my vintage highly-technical 1980s U.S.Ski Team jacket by The North Face, which is easily the very best piece of winter outdoor gear I own.