Let us tell you a secret about down jackets: if you're not going to be using them in genuinely harsh weather, by which we don't mean the Cotswolds in February, you really might as well just buy whatever one you think looks nicest. These are the samiest of all coats.
They all have outer fabric that is rip, water, and windproof to varying degrees, and also able to keep the down that fills them inside to varying degrees. Some are impregnable, some will let slip the odd feather.
Inside there's duck, goose or synthetic down, or a mix. Obviously. As a result, you're well advised to use specialist down-only detergent when cleaning or, if your local Tescos lacks such a product, use about 1/3 the normal amount of detergent.
Designed for the outdoors, from the Alps in a blizzard to a brisk, British country walk, down jackets are now spotted on high streets the world over and are a major fashion item. Why, just look at the fella pictured above, totally at home in his alpine environment. We wager that with his fantastic modelling skills and easy manner, he'll be catching the eye of all the finest ladies at the aprés ski disco hot tub party. And a certain proportion of the gentlemen, to boot, we dare say!
To help you through the primary-coloured minefield of sameiness that is down jacket shopping, we've ranked the following in rough order, starting from 'high street catwalk' and moving up to 'Arctic ready'. They will all keep you warm though, rest assured.
• The best non-puffy winter jackets and coats are here.
• The pick of technical waterproof jackets (please don't say 'anoraks') are here.
Imagery courtesy Go Outdoors. Coats are listed roughly in order of protectiveness, from light but still warm to full-on Arctic survival gear.