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Gear Guy

What's the most functional yet stylish jacket for a college freshman?

My daughter has just begun her studies at the University of Chicago. Her dorm is quite a distance from the main cpus and, as a result, she'll be spending time waiting for buses and walking to classes. What jackets provide good protection from the cold and wet yet are stylish enough for her to wear? A hood seems to be a necessary part of the jacket. What do you recommend? Rowan Potomac, Maryland

A: I've got just the thing for you—the Nolita Jacket from Ibex ($240; It's a very stylish but fully functional jacket that's made with a heavyweight but soft loden wool that works wonderfully in cool and wet weather. And, it doesn't look at all dorky. I will say it doesn't have a hood, but any number of hats would work well with it—personally I prefer hats to hoods, anyway. Layer it up in really cold weather with Ibex's Woolies Zip T-Neck ($62).

Nolita Jacket

For really lousy conditions—and Chicago can produce them, heaven knows—L.L. Bean's Baxter State Parka might be the ticket. It's down-insulated and Gore Tex-lined, to withstand snow and wind, and its full hood has a zip-off synthetic fur ruff. Plus, at $209 it's an excellent buy ( Bean has shaped it for women and offers colors that aren't camo, but it still has a certain hunting-garb appearance that may or may not be suitable. Maybe a little more fashionable would be Patagonia's Puffski Jacket ($300;, which is designed as a ski piece so has an outdoorsy look with a bit of panache. Its PrimaLoft insulation is warm, soft, and durable, and the Puffski has a waterproof-breathable shell—plus a full hood. Very warm and not at all bad-looking as you're waiting for the number 33 bus to take you to class.

For more stylin' gear, check out Outside Online's all-new Guide to Urban Wear.

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Filed To: Midweight
Lead Photo: courtesy, Ibex