What is outerwear all about?
Outerwear is a garment category that wears many hats. For Starkweather, the three principal responsibilities of outerwear are:
OUTERWEAR IS A FASHION STATEMENT
When we put on a coat, that one piece takes on all the sartorial responsibility. We can wear whatever we want underneath our coat, but most of the people we pass by and interact with in a day will never see it. They only see the coat.
Also, one coat will have to work with our outfits and lifestyle for most of the season. This means it not only has to be good looking enough and represent our style enough that we want to wear it all the time, but it also has to work with whatever we want to wear all of those days that it will be donned.
The most important aesthetic factors: Silhouette proportion and texture.
PROTECTION FROM THE ELEMENTS
The elements will fight against our lifestyle of needing to be out in the world getting to and from our work, social engagement and home. Outerwear protects us from those weather conditions that might otherwise make it impossible for us to live in inclement places. But we have gotten lazy about this, buying one coat that is supposed to take us from 40° weather to 0° weather.
Layering is the skill we must exercise, knowing how to maximize on our bodies own regulatory system and not squash it or overcompensate. Know where to release the heat, and where to stay protected. Then layer accordingly.
And now forgive me. It's about to get scientific...
FASHION AND HOMEOSTASIS
By nature, our bodies self-regulate their temperature as a form of homeostasis. In many cases we wear coats now as if our bodies don't have these natural mechanisms.
"Heat is exchanged with the environment through a complex combination of conduction, convection, radiation and evaporation. Clothing worn by humans and natural integuments also play a role."
Outerwear is an essential garment when it comes to supplementing homeostasis. And it should be designed and worn with this supplemental role in mind. A great example is how back through history outerwear has manifested with use of animal hides. Nomadic peoples, for example, took the cue from nature and understood the protective quality of the fur and skin to be sufficient for other mammals and so adapted the same use for themselves.
And now, with our knowledge of biology and of lifestyle demands, we can make educated design decisions to create great outerwear in response to both of those design parameters.