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For being such a ubiquitous material, fleece is a surprisingly recent innovation. The insulating fabric, which is typically made from a polyester blend and easily identified by its fuzzy, wool-like texture, was invented in Massachusetts in 1981 through a partnership between textile manufacturer Malden Mills and Patagonia.
While initially prized by hikers and other outdoor sport enthusiasts for its light weight and excellent warmth retention, it eventually became a suburban staple and then the unofficial uniform of office drones everywhere. In other words, a cultural punchline—as one notable Portlandia sketch famously used it.
However, recent seasons have seen fleece make its way into stylistic respectability. Whether it’s the proliferation of higher-quality fleece made from greater proportions of natural wool, the willingness of designers to play with it in new cuts and patterns, or simply the state of our more-dressed down present, the fleece is finding itself surprisingly in vogue for autumn 2022.
Don’t believe us? Take a look at the roster below, stocked with high pile, shining examples from the likes of Drake’s, Todd Snyder, Isabel Marant and more.
Marni Men’s Fleece Zip Vest
Yes, we’re used to fleece being fuzzy—but not so frizzy as the new heights Marni has achieved by virtue of a pliant mohair-blend fabric. Its contrast stand collar provides much-needed structure.
Buy Now on Neiman Marcus: $1,250
Drake’s Blue Boucle Wool Zip Fleece Vest
Ties may be an increasingly rare sight at the office, and esteemed English tiemaker Drake’s has taken notice. They’re adapting to the new normal with this zipped fleece vest, which stands head and shoulders above its corporate-issued competition thanks to a Tuscan-sourced boucle wool jersey fabric.
Isabel Marant Men’s Marlo Fleece Pullover
Definitively proving that you can have fun with fleece, Isabel Marant marks its model with an extra-wide collar and a graphic stripe pattern. Throw it over jeans and a tee to make a big visual impact with minimal effort.
Oliver Spencer Bembridge Corduroy-Trimmed Fleece Jacket
It’s remarkable what a touch of corduroy can do to a garment. In the case of Oliver Spencer’s Bembridge fleece jacket, patches of corduroy at the pocket, arms and undercollar give it a slightly country feel without detracting from its insulating, cotton-blend fabric.
RRL Argyle Pile Fleece Liner Jacket
How does a vintage-venerating label like RRL make use of a modern fabric like fleece? Easy: it renders it in a classic pattern like argyle and finishes it with twill trim.
Brooks Brothers Sherpa Fleece Duck Motif Jacket
Due to its polyester nature, fleece never made it into the pages of The Official Preppy Handbook. But throw a duck motif into the mix—as Brooks Brothers has done with this Sherpa jacket—and you might have yourself a deal.
Buy Now on Brooks Brothers:
Todd Snyder Birdseye Print Sherpa Full-Zip Jacket in Navy
Italian-milled Sherpa fleece in a birdseye pattern gives this Todd Snyder zip jacket an unexpectedly classic appeal. Layer it above a pink OCBD and flat-front chinos for maximum effect.
Saturdays NYC Astor Polar Fleece Half Zip Toasted Coconut
Thoughtful design details like a V-neck half-zip opening and a contrast nylon patch pocket set this Saturdays fleece apart from the pack. Its midweight fabric is made from recycled polyester to the tune of 12-14 plastic bottles per piece.
Buy Now on Saturdays NYC: $215
Mackintosh Purple & White Fleece Popover Jacket
By accenting white fleece with contrast purple trim, Mackintosh crafted a fleece popover with a powerful visual effect. A stand collar with a stud fastening adds to its dramatic appeal while a simple drawstring hem allows for an adjustable fit.