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Until about two years ago, I’d been puzzled about double zippers on jackets. You know the ones. There are two zipper pulls, and it’s a bit confusing which one you grab to actually, you know, zip up the coat. I now understand them perfectly, and I demand that all women’s coats have this design feature from now on.
It all started with a lightweight J.Crew puffer coat that I bought a few years ago (no longer available) that was a little bit boxy. My body, which features hips and a butt like many human women, does not respond well to boxy, but I like what that silhouette looks like. So I grabbed two different sizes, anticipating that I’d need the bigger size to fit comfortably, which has happened to me before, which then means the coat ends up being a bit bigger on top than I’d like.
Once I realized that the coat had a bottom zipper, and unzipping it just an inch made a huge difference in the fit around my hips without sacrificing that SpongeBob shape I was going for, I vowed to never buy a coat without a double zipper again.
My love of this feature reappeared again over the holidays. I have a Nike 6.0 coat (a line that was for cool sports, like snowboarding and skating) that I got at a snowboarding event the brand hosted a few years ago. The coat is cozy and I wear it skiing once a year. Over the years since I’ve had it, I’ve gained a few pounds and found myself needing to unzip the bottom zipper just a few inches, which made all the difference in the fit. This was so much better than having to buy a new ski coat for a sport I do once a year and mainly do just so I can drink wine in the mountains when I’m done with the sport part.
After doing a bit of research on GQ and having it confirmed by Cam, Racked’s menswear editor, this feature likely started as a menswear thing. When you start looking, you can find images everywhere of lanky young men leaning against walls with their bottom jacket zipper unzipped to their nipple line. Fancy menswear brand Berluti has a very helpful page regarding this matter, entitled “What is the purpose of a two-way zipper?”
Some of our outerwear jackets and cardigans close with a two-way zipper. And this is far from a mere decorative afterthought. The two-way zipper, with two pulls, allows the wearer to keep the garment zipped while leaving the lower portion open. This can, for example, make it easier to reach an inside pocket. More importantly, it ensures the wearer respects the longstanding codes of elegance stipulating that a jacket should never be closed all the way to the bottom, such that it neither restricts movement nor excessively hugs the figure. Thus, just as elegant men never button the bottom button of their suit jackets, they quickly learn never to zip their outerwear jackets all the way to the bottom.
I think we can all agree that longstanding codes of elegance are important. But there are plenty of women’s brands that still haven’t gotten the hint. The Arrivals has, though, as I discovered when I started visiting this coat online every few weeks just to see if maybe the price would ever drop below $300. (It never does.) I liked it even more when I saw that it had a double zipper, as, indeed, most of the women’s styles on the site do.
I reached out to the brand to see why it’s clearly so on top of this matter. “Our approach to designing new product is consistently driven by The Arrivals’ core values, which are performance, craft, and individuality. The inclusion of subtle design features, such as a double zipper, enhance the daily functionality of our jackets in the often unpredictable climate of an urban setting,” Jeff Johnson, co-founder and creative director of the brand, said in an email. “Another benefit to the double zipper — specifically within women’s jackets and coats — is the ability to further personalize how each piece is worn, which can be left up to the discretion of the individual." Slightly vague, yes, but I feel validated.
I don’t know how much more work or expense it is to add another zipper pull, but not enough brands are doing it yet. Something to consider as you’re browsing all those coat sales now.