stuff we buy ourselves

Our Editors’ and Writers’ Favorite Fleeces for This (Very) Fuzzy Moment

Photo: 2019 NBAE

If you follow our monthly Strategist Haul, you’re familiar with the idiosyncrasies of our editors’ and writers’ shopping habits. While we think of those as the highlights, there are plenty of other, less glamorous things we buy — and love — on the regular too. So whether you’ve wondered about the work bags we tote around or the underwear we’re most loyal to, this is the Stuff We Buy Ourselves. In this edition, the fleeces our editors pile on when the temperature drops. Fleeces, of course, are not new — as you’ll see below, our managing editor has been wearing hers for a decade — but trend forecasters predict the fuzzy look is here to stay (at least through this season). So if you don’t own one, or if you must buy a new one to stay ever-current, here are our staffers’ picks, ranging from tried and true favorites to stylish newcomers.

Alexis Swerdloff, Strategist editor

I got this fleece Everlane sweatshirt last year, and I have gotten a lot of wear out of it. (I actually have it in a rust color, which sold out, but this green is my second favorite shade.) It’s just nubbly enough to nod to the current fuzzy fleece moment we’re in without shouting it. Because of its texture, some people at first glance think it’s a sweater as opposed to a sweatshirt — which makes me feel less schlubby when I wear it throughout the entirety of a weekend (which I have been known to do).

Maxine Builder, managing editor

Let’s not kid ourselves: The only fleece that matters (and the one that everyone seems to be trying to rip off these days) is Patagonia’s sherpa fleece. I have the Retro-X jacket in beige with a kelly-green pocket and trim that I got back in 2009 at the Patagonia outlet in Freeport, Maine, and I expect it to last many years to come.

Rio Viera-Newton, writer

A fancy fleece was never something I thought my closet was missing. But I decided to impulse buy this particular one with some credit I had at Le Point. I love Sandy Liang and thought this might be my only chance to actually own something of hers — and I have since fallen deeply and madly in love with it. It’s cozy and casual enough to wear lounging around my house on a cold morning, or over workout clothes en route to the yoga studio. But it’s also chic and fun enough to wear to important meetings or on dinner dates with my boyfriend. I basically live in it.

Anthony Rotunno, senior editor

With two Patagonia fleeces already in my closet — a Synchilla Snap-T Pullover and a Retro Pile Pullover — I thought I had more than enough to ride out the extended fuzzy moment we’re in. But then my husband showed me this J.Crew number, with a print inspired by those on sweaters handmade by the Cowichan people of British Columba. The sweaters — which we have three of at home, in similar tan/cream/brown palettes — are known for their thick, chunky knit and intricate designs; they’re really special pieces, but because of their bulk, not the easiest to wear all the time. The fleece is kind of a happier medium, at least when it comes to everyday wear. It definitely has the Cowichan spirit, aesthetically, but is lighter weight and easier to layer, while also still being warm. And, of course, fuzzy.

Karen Iorio Adelson, senior writer

I bought this fleece with my alma mater’s logo on it when I was visiting the campus in May, and I’ve just been waiting for the weather to get cold enough to wear it. I spent many summer nights in my apartment cuddling in it with the air conditioner cranked up. I adore the color, it’s very cozy, has a big, front “kangaroo” style pocket, and I like that I can snap or unsnap the neck depending on the temperature.

Peter Martin, senior editor

I got this fleece eight years ago when my friend convinced me to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with her, and all these years later it’s still my favorite in terms of warmth and comfort. On Kili, I wore it on top of a Mountain Hardware base layer and under a North Face softshell on colder days. (When it got really cold I added a down sweater.) In normal life, once fall kicks in, I seem to wear it every weekend. It’s soft and thick(ish) and warm enough that I can wear it over a T-shirt and be fine going outside even when the temperature dips into the 40s. I do miss having side pockets, but at least there’s a chest zip to hold my wallet and keys.

My next fleece will probably be this one. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about how fleeces release super-tiny bits of plastic into our water supply — and how those eventually make their way to the ocean — every time we wash them. (The good news is I consider putting my fleece back in the closet to count as washing it, but other people are probably less lazy.) Among the companies innovating to solve this problem is Houdini, a sustainability-focused Swedish brand with a very cool, almost seamless aesthetic. Their Power Air Houdi fleece is made of 100 percent recycled components, which is nice, but it also uses a new fabric from Polartec that sheds 80 percent fewer microparticles than typical fleece when you toss it in the laundry. The interior looks almost like a waffle knit, with little pockets that hold the microfibers inside.

Ailbhe Malone, Strategist UK editor

I recently got sent the Everlane ReNew Fleece Raglan Sweatshirt in olive, and it makes me feel like a real-life Care Bear. A couple of notes on the fit: I’m five-foot-two with a small waist, and I was worried the schlubby style would make it an indoor-only sweatshirt. But it’s cropped nicely, so it hits the top of my jeans. The fabric is a little scratchy on the first wear, but it softens quickly. I got a medium, but could probably have stood to a small.

Hilary Reid, writer

The only fleece I own at the moment is a powder-blue North Face Denali, which I’ve had since I was a teen. It’s the same as this “vintage” one that was recently sold by a probably-current teen on Depop. I’d like something more modern, and have been eyeing this Dunraven Sherpa fleece from The North Face. The slight crop seems flattering, and I like all of the colors, although will probably end up going for the black. And as a turtleneck obsessive, I’m obviously into the funnel neck.

Chris Mandle, Strategist UK writer

I picked up this Uniqlo x JW Anderson fleece when the collection dropped a few weeks ago, and it’s basically an outer layer in itself. It’s so warm that I haven’t actually had an opportunity to wear it outside yet, because it makes me sweat so profusely. I never thought I’d say it, but hurry up with that horrible weather, England!

I am also eyeing the sheepy Patagonia fleece that Anthony also owns because it reminds me of the sheep that categorically do not live anywhere near me in southeast London, and the contrast zips keep it interesting.

David Notis, writer

I’ve had my eye on this one for a while — I actually think I wrote about wanting to buy it at some point last year but never ended up going for it. I always wait too long and then it’s February and I’m like well, do I really need this now? I guess that’s a reason to act early, so this — early November — would probably be a good time to get a new fleece. I love Patagonia and I’ve had one of their fleece pullovers for about ten years now and wear it inside all the time. Sadly, they no longer make it. This one seems like it would be a good replacement and it’s also not the Synchilla that everyone has. It’s a little more plush and has a bit of a sheen and texture to it, so it looks a little “dressier” if you can say that about a fleece. More importantly, it looks warm.

I’m also really into this one. I like the color a lot, and it looks a little cleaner than most of the fleeces out there. It doesn’t have any fabric panels or logos or gratuitous seams, so it feels more fashionable and less like a techy/outdoorsy thing. It has the high-pile vintage fabric without looking like camping gear. But it’s still warm. Because it’s fleece.

Does this count as a fleece? Probably not. But it’s “fleece-y” in a way, no? They call it a “reverse hoodie” because the fuzzy part is on the outside, and I think that’s in the spirit of fleece. Also, it’s naturally dyed, so that feels in line with the fleece ethos. Maybe I’m trying too hard to make my case, but I just like this a lot. It looks super cozy and I love the uneven and organic look of the natural dye.

Chloe Anello, junior writer

I own more than ten different fleeces, two of which are these Patagonia ones. I became somewhat obsessed with fleeces while trying to survive four years of winters at Syracuse University, and yes, the winters are as bad as they say. I’ve tried a lot of the fleeces out there and these are definitely the warmest. They also allow for easy layering underneath without giving you that overstuffed feeling, and I can easily take them off if a building is on the warm side. I think a pullover works better underneath a heavy down coat because it can lay flat, as opposed to a zippered fleece which can sometimes bunch.

While it’s not as warm as my beloved Patagonia pullovers, I love the look of this Donni fleece. It’s slim-fit, so I can put a coat over it, but also warm enough to keep me comfortable on a cooler day. It’s the perfect blend of practicality and style. It’s definitely made more for boots and jeans than it is for hiking (or surviving below-freezing temperatures), but that’s what I love about it. Plus, it’s just so soft. This is definitely more of an early-fall fleece or for those who spend their winters in California.

I don’t have this exact one; I have an older model, but this is my favorite gym-time fleece. After a workout, I’m typically pretty warm already, so this is a great lightweight fleece to throw on. It protects me from a breeze but I also won’t overheat.

Liza Corsillo, writer

To be clear, I don’t own this fleece yet. But last winter I finally found a parka that both keeps me warm and makes me feel stylish no matter where I am going. So I feel confident that this cotton-candy dream would also fit me well and keep me cozy all winter. In my opinion, fuzzy fleece jackets (the ones that make you look like a sheep or a stuffed bear) already have a childish appeal to them. So why not lean all the way in with the color? For me, the sportiness of this fleece balances the bright pink, and I’d have so much fun styling it with jeans or dresses or going full activewear in yoga pants.

Jenna Milliner-Waddell, junior writer

In a lot of ways, I’m a bit of a Strategist black sheep: I own nothing from Everlane, I have zero interest in the Dansko clogs, and I can’t express enough how off-brand a fleece jacket is. However, if I had to get one, the Outdoor Voices megafleece is on my radar — specifically the men’s version. I prefer the snap closure to the women’s quarter-zip style, and I would definitely wear it to and from the gym.

Jessica Silvester, contributing editor

I don’t go to SoulCycle anymore, but I still get their emails, and about a month ago, when fall was just starting to enter the air and I was walking along the windy Hudson underdressed, one popped up from them with the subject: “You will live in this jacket all season.” For whatever reason, I was inclined to believe them. The picture the email opened onto was of a cuddly yet not-too-boxy-looking style with a great below-hip length (modeled by NYC-based instructor Tanysha, which didn’t hurt). It had zero visible SoulCycle branding and a vertical zip pocket on the chest, in addition to the two regular pockets (I like an extra pocket). And since SoulCycle famously overcharges for everything, I was surprised that the price was a reasonable-seeming $128. I ordered it and have gotten nothing but compliments since, by literal strangers on the street. It’s nice and roomy — big enough to layer over a thick hooded sweatshirt, but without feeling bulky. Plus, it has plenty of space to hold my phone, credit-card case, keys, lozenges, etc. (I hardly notice they’re on me in this thing). The faux-shearling exterior has kept me nice and warm even on those recent 40-degree mornings, and the sporty lining is a fun Crystal Lite color. In other words: I’ve basically been living in it all season.

Dominique Pariso, writer

I used to be quite fleece-averse. I never wore one in high school or college, because I always associated them with people who played team sports and liked to hike — two hobbies I could never see the appeal of. But when I spotted the numerous fleeces in the latest Uniqlo x JW Anderson collab, I decided to bite the bullet. I didn’t have a good midweight coat option for these finicky fall temperatures, and a fleece is just so darn cozy. Plus, a fashion-y fleece like this one feels more stylish than the outdoorsy fleeces offered by Patagonia. I went for the beige and baby-blue style, which is unfortunately sold out in a lot of sizes. However, the navy and orange fleece, which is similar to the one Chris bought, is still available in all sizes and I find it just as appealing. I can also personally vouch for the blue plaid version, which my roommate bought.

Lauren Ro, writer

I literally do not own a single fleece jacket, so it’s probably time I get one. I’ve had my eye on this V-neck zip cardigan from Uniqlo ever since Chris Black recommended it as an office basic for layering. I like its Eileen Fisher-y boxy shape and would get it in beige.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Our Editors’ Favorite Fleeces for This (Very) Fuzzy Moment