With the recent arctic air blowing sub-zero temperatures into Utah, most people bundled up with little thought about what they looked like.
But fashion experts say sacrificing fashion for warmth isn't necessary - particularly as the fashion-minded begin to turn their thoughts toward spring.Men looking for stylish outerwear have two distinct choices for the remainder of winter and spring. One of the looks is a carry-over from last fall - the rugged-country-outdoorsy-George-Bush-down to earth-environment-rustic type of look.
Ask someone in the world of fashion what that means and they'll use words like curry, nutmeg, chocolates, mustard, olive, forest, clay and rust. That's greens, yellows and browns to you and me. Earth tones.
"That's a very important look for spring that began in the fall," said Hank Rinquest, the men's outerwear buyer for ZCMI.
The return to the outdoors and increased concern over the environment helped spur the rustic, country flavor that remains in style this spring.
But those who prefer brighter colors don't need to worry. They, too, can be in vogue when the weather begins to warm up. Purple, yellow, turquoise and emerald are the dominant colors for men's outerwear in this category. But forget the hot pink and the fluorescent green. Their time has come and gone.
"Bright is in, but not neon bright," Rinquest explained. "Neons are gone."
New styles tend to be "nautical inspired," retailers say. You'll see a lot of use with white, navy and sapphire blues - even sailboat motifs, said Andrea Ludlow, Nordstrom fashion coordinator.
The newer jackets have color blocking with two or three colors used in the same coat. Chest stripes through the center of the coat are also in style.
At ZCMI stores, leather coats continue to sell, but not like they used to, Rinquest said. "Most vendors feel that leather has peaked."
But other retailers disagree with that assessment. The manager of Berman's The Leather Expert in the Valley Fair Mall insists leather outerwear is as hot as it ever was.
"This is our ninth year of being real strong," said Joe Lopez. "We're still having steady increases nationwide and we have more than 600 stores."
One of the best-selling jackets at his store is lined with "thinsulate" - a material that is lighter than down and twice as warm as wool, Lopez said. And the liner can be removed when the weather isn't so chilly.
"You're looking at a jacket that you can wear year-round," he said.
Leather bomber jackets also continue to sell well at Berman's and at Nordstrom. Parka-length anorak jackets with the drawstring around the waist and thighs continue to sell well, too, said Ludlow.
But deciding which jacket is best isn't as big a problem as it once was, because retailers say fewer men have only one all-purpose coat hanging in the closet.
"People aren't happy with one coat anymore. They need a variety," said Rinquest. "Most men have between three and five coats . . . a coat to work in the yard, a leather coat, a go-to-the-store coat or a coat to wear over a suit."
And there's a variety of brands and fabric to choose from. But in Utah, most of the outerwear you'll find is made of cotton and cotton blends, Rinquest said. "Cotton-touch nylon" is also popular. Although 100 percent nylon, the "scratchiness" has been taken out, he said. "If you were to touch it, you'd swear there was cotton in it."
"Microfiber" is the newest fabric to hit clothing stores. It consists of a very fine man-made fiber that is supposed to be very durable. The new fabric is used in raincoats because it is water-repellant. Manufacturers are making plans to use it for sport coats and slacks.
"It feels almost like a suede," Rinquest said. "It's a finer thread than silk even."
But don't look for microfiber soon in Utah. It will likely find its way to the shelves by next fall. He also warned that the new fiber will likely be very expensive. "But I think it'll be around for several seasons and increase in popularity," he said.
Lopez said that the style for the length of men's outerwear is getting shorter. And about 90 percent of the coats sold at ZCMI are waist-length or slightly longer. Rinquest said the longer-length jackets never quite caught on in Utah as they did in Eastern and other Western states.