It’s hard to sacrifice performance for fashion when I need to be out in the elements, but I really don’t like looking like a hiker as I go about my city life. Now I have another option: the January Jacket by Core Concepts.

This fun, feminine soft shell jacket provides great weather protection and satisfies my desire to maintain a more refined look. There are no garish logos identifying the jacket as “gear,” and the flared hem and sleeves give the jacket a bouyant, “That Girl” kind of vibe. I like the large metal grommets on the front of the Core Concepts January Jacket – so mod! Each disk contains a magnet that attaches to another magnet on the other side of the jacket; it’s a cool design that allows me to quickly fasten the jacket without the usual Velcro-style fasteners (which drive me nuts – everything snags on them).

The magnet “buttons” also allow me to extend the collar to its full height to get excellent protection in cold weather. I like how Core Concepts designed the collar because the main zipper ends at the base of the collar, so there’s nothing to rub against my neck. The collar is lined with soft fleecy material that feels quite cozy against my skin. Initially, I found the underside flap of the collar to be a bit distracting because I could feel it when my chin moved across the edge of the material, but I forgot all about it after I wore the January Jacket a few times. The tall collar is this jackets best feature, I think. It’s quite flattering, and it’s warm.

Since the Core Concepts January Jacket is a soft shell, it’s best for casual wear in temperatures between 45-60 degrees F and provides good protection against rain. I usually wear it over a short- or long-sleeved t-shirt or merino wool top, adding more layers for colder temperatures. The fleecy inner cuffs are quite long, and therefore, great at keeping out cold air, but they’re positioned too high up the sleeve. I can’t really wear another layer in cold weather because it binds midway up my forearm where the cuff is attached. When I drive the sleeves pull up too far. Women with shorter arms (I’m 6′ tall and have very long arms) will find the overall sleeve length to be fine, but I’d like a longer sleeve and the inner cuff moved closer to the wrist to allow more room for a warm mid-layer.

Since I don’t always have time to go home and change before my daily power walks I have been wearing the January Jacket in freezing temperatures over a Primaloft vest and a thin merino wool base layer, and it’s performed beautifully. It’s kept me dry in drizzly outings and it does a good job of blocking mild wind. I usually walk for an hour and as I heat up, I unzip the jacket and use the magnets to keep the top half of the jacket fastened; it’s a great way to get ventilation so I don’t overheat when I need the Core Concepts January Jacket to get me through my workout. On the way home, the fabric does a great job of blocking the chilly breeze so I stay warm.

Overall, I’m happy with the performance of the January Jacket and its fun style. I had imagined the jacket would be cut leaner and sleeker for a more body-consious fit, but it’s actually roomy through the torso (which works well when I need to wear a vest) and a bit boxy through the shoulders. So, it’s not as slim and urban as I’d hoped, but it’s a very nice change from the usual soft shell jackets I wear. Once I quit expecting the January Jacket to be something else, I started really enjoying wearing it.  I just love the collar and appreciate the clean design. Too many companies clutter up otherwise attractive jackets with cheesy ornamentation. Sometimes less is more.

The Core Concepts January Jacket has large zippered front pockets and a small zippered pocket on the inside.  I tested a women’s size L, my usual size, and found I had some extra room through the torso but a size M was a bit too snug (I have a large chest) and too short in the length and sleeves.

Available in women’s sizes XS-XL in Black and Creme Fraiche.

Bottom Line: A great three-season soft shell jacket that stands out from the rest.

Manufacturer: www.corelayers.com

buy-now $189,  free shipping at Amazon.