Certain timeless pieces simply evoke a sense of sophistication. The quilted jacket proves a classic staple every human person ought to own in their wardrobe. Given the elegance its silhouette connotes, the rich history of quilting as a craft comes as no surprise. However, the quilted jacket as we know it hails from comparatively humble beginnings. Interested in acquiring this must-have for your own, or expanding your already impressive collection? Our round up offers everything you need to know, and the best options to suit every occasion.
The Origins of Quilting
At its most basic level, “quilting” means any act of sewing that incorporates more than one layer of cloth. Construction defines the quilted jacket, rather than its iconic shape or style. Those seams and puffs that create its depth result from joining multiple layers of fabric together for varying levels of insulation. Historians have traced the term “quilting” back to 12th century England, stemming from the Latin word cucita, which means cushion or bolster. Interestingly, quilting seems to be a strategy shared by the entire collective consciousness—there’s evidence of the approach being taken by disparate cultures from Europe in the Middle Ages all the way to the Far East, at a time before ideas could be easily shared like they are today. By the 17th century, quilting was a pervasive tactic used in pragmatic crafts from housewares to armor.
If you’re looking for warmth, nothing competes in games of toastiness like a quilted jacket.
The Birth of the Quilted Jacket
The quilted jacket as we know it today finds its roots in Pennsylvania (that unexpected birthplace of other notable sartorial developments). PA-native Steve Guylas retired from the Air Force in 1965, trading combat for commerce due to an eye disease. A devoted Anglophile, he left the States for England and founded three separate enterprises centered around outdoor outfitting. Each company’s name began with Husky, an ode to the beloved dog Guylas would take on outdoorsman expeditions. In 1965, Guylas designed the original Husky jacket—100% nylon with polyester filling. Built for hunting in the dreary English climate, it was lightly warm and weatherproof. When paparazzi spotted the Queen wearing one, the trend took off. Guylas has since sold his company to the Italian Saviero Moschillo, who continues crafting these original quilted jackets with that infamous Italian touch.
In Modern Times
Given their relatively recent advent, it’s no wonder that quilted jackets are still around. What began as a hunting jacket and catapulted to prestige at the hands of literal royalty has splintered off into all kinds of styles suited to a variety of lifestyles.
Why We Love the Quilted Jacket
“Quilting” simply means stitching more than one layer of fabric together. It doesn’t dictate how many. With loose guidelines like this, manufacturers can add more layers, new types of fabrics, and all kinds of embellishments from pockets to hardware that make each version of the quilted jacket utterly unique. It also means you can use this piece in all kinds of climates and situations.
If you’re looking for warmth, nothing competes in games of toastiness like a quilted jacket. Not only can this variety of coat incorporate endless piles of cloth, but oftentimes manufacturers pack each fold with insulation like goose or duck down feathers for further unprecedented warmth. Most people reach for a puffer jacket when the weather turns untenably nippy, blissfully aware of the quilting that makes such designs possible.
Quilted jackets just look good. Their lines can go any which way, whether in a uniform pattern or utter cacophony. Built from such studious construction, their aesthetic design often proves sleek and smart, even when erring on the bulkier side. Rather than falling in a lump, quilted jackets own some kind of sleek structure that doesn’t sacrifice style for substance.
What to Consider Before Buying
Weight & Material
These are the foremost functional considerations that should play into your search, and will narrow down your options considerably. Are you buying this jacket to keep you warm in extreme cold, or just to layer over top of a sport coat or blazer after the sun goes down? Material has its own weight, and quilting offers the opportunity for multiple layers. The warmest quilted coats also include extra installation. Bird feathers called “down” have shaped up as a traditional favorite, with goose being the standard for high quality, but innovations in textiles have enabled manufacturers to move from this dubiously humane practice to equally effective artificial options.
Now that you’ve established temperature, consider how your quilted jacket should handle the weather. Many quilted jackets come with a baseline protection against the elements, but some materials like waxed canvas can withstand sheer downpours while others are only equipped for a light drizzle. Wind and snow throw further wrenches into the equation.
Countless possibilities exist on a more minute level, pretty much anything the mind can fathom (though I have found patterns pretty hard to come by.) For example, specialized zippers can further weatherproof your jacket and also make it more ergonomically pleasant to interact with. Hoods enable even more comfort and safety when the going gets dire. Last but not least, even the most practical purchase should speak to personality. Pattern, hardware, and silhouette also play their part in your decision, parsing through all the quilted coats out there to find one that speaks to you, and you alone.
Quilted Jackets for Every Occasion
Jacket by HUSKY
Where else could we possibly start but with the complete OG? Even under its Italian ownership, HUSKY continues to produce quilted coats harkening back to the core integrity that allowed the garment to take flight of its own. HUSKY jackets can be hard to come by, but they’re worth the wait for true fans.
Barbour Flyweight Chelsea Quilted Jacket
With their shared Anglophile heritage, Barbour and quilted jackets are a match made in heaven. We like their minimalist flyweight Chelsea jacket best, a lightweight piece of outerwear suited to warmer months. Where other pared down iterations of the quilted jacket sometimes hang shapelessly, Barbour’s neat collar, angled pocks, and slim fit keep this simple piece structured enough for a style statement.
Patagonia Men’s Diamond Quilted Bomber Hoody
In search of something a little more hardcore? Patagonia has engineered this durable, insulated jacket that you can feel good about. The brand has been hailed time and again for their ethics and esteemed focus on sustainability, which blends eco-mindedness with actual function. Their sturdy quilted bomber jacket is waterproof and wind-resistant, featuring extremely effective high-tech insulation that stays lightweight and saves on animal cruelty. Complete with a hood, it makes a wholehearted promise to keep you safe throughout the elements. This fair-trade sewn piece of gear comes in a range of colors that still manages to assert individuality, even in the wild.
REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0
Investing in a staple doesn’t need to mean breaking the bank. Rooted in craftsmanship and quality, most quilted jackets possess the propensity to push the fiscal comfort zone. However, cult adventure brand REI operates an in-house label that’s updated their quilted jacket to pack even more bang for your buck. Particular colors go on sale not infrequently. This lightweight down jacket keeps the chill away when the weather turns cool, whether at a restaurant or on a hike.
Super Down Ultra Jacket by KUIU
Most quilted jackets have stitches that run in that iconic diamond pattern, but really their stitches can take any shape without losing the quality of “quilted,” so long as they meet that one initial parameter. This puffer jacket from KUIU bucks market norms in multiple manners, producing a bold quilted coat that supports the company’s obsession “with engineering the world’s most innovative performance hunting gear.” The Super Down Ultra Jacket features built in technology from Toray and KUIU themselves, rendering the gear warmer yet more airy than many of its colleagues.
Quilted Waxed Shirt Jacket by Flint and Tinder
Flint and Tinder has packed a little extra storage into their tactical quilted jacket made of waxed canvas, water-resistant and ready for the elements. “Thanks to the hardy British Millerain waxed canvas shell, recycled Primaloft® insulation, and a slew of modern, technical features, the Quilted Waxed Shirt Jacket can tackle early morning cattle drives and evenings spent wrenching away on a vintage motorcycle,” the product description explains. Available in three solid, understated colors, this sturdy shirt jac still proves sophisticated enough to transition from outdoor work to indoor hanging. Armed with numerous pockets, including hidden side hand pockets and an inside zippered chest pocket for valuables, it also ensures you can hold everything else you need throughout your day.
x Marcus Paul Bengali Tableau Quilted Workwear Jacket
Even if you didn’t come here to find the most high fashion iteration of the functional quilted jacket, it’s still fascinating to take a gander at what artistic feats can be achieved with one iconic medium. Quilting gets a little more literal with this expressive quilted jacket, notable more for its aesthetic design than its function. “Inspired by a 1920s Kantha quilt from West Bengal, India, this cotton jacket is intricately detailed with floral and geometric stitching for an antiquey look,” the product description explains. Somehow, it leaps towards the unconventional while remaining sane, bringing a whole lot of sunshine to a garment first designed to trounce under the rain.