Two long-time staples of the Culver Girls Academy wardrobe are being phased out. This winter has served as the first real test for a new hooded, black, polyester shell, insulated coats. They are replacing both the camel coat and the navy peacoat. And, according to two CGA students, the new coats are receiving rave reviews.
The coats were actually first introduced in January 2019, Assistant Dean of Girls Anne Kelley ’94 said. They were selected after two years of searching for a suitable replacement. Kelley worked with the Uniform Department Manager Matt White in finding a coat that looked nice, is wind and water-resistant, available in a variety of sizes, and will be available for years to come.
White said the new coats are the Journey Parka by Charles River. They are Thinsulate lined and rated to 9-degrees below zero. The coat also has zippered pockets. They are cold water washable and hang dry. Sizes range from extra-small to triple extra-large.
The Culver branding is subtle, White added, with a tone-on-tone logo on the left sleeve. That was intentional so the logo could still be visible even with scarves and long hair. Also, it makes it more likely the girls will wear the coat outside of Culver and after they graduate.
“When we introduced them last year,” White said, “we actually had a lot of the (2019) seniors buy them because they are such great coats. We’ve also had some faculty, staff, and mothers buy them.”
The search for a replacement was out of necessity, Kelley said, as the camel coats became more expensive and harder to find. And, as programs and classes changed, the number of times most CGA students were wearing the coats dwindled to just a few times each year. “Some girls were wearing their coats just one or two times a year,” Kelley explained.
Practicality also played a role in the switch. Purchasing two wool coats was cost-prohibitive. It was difficult finding a good place to hang the longer coats in the wardrobes and both coats took a long time to dry after getting wet, Kelley explained. The peacoats, worn daily, had to be dry cleaned by the uniform department. That meant the girls were reluctant to turn them in.
The variations in the camel coats were so great, the girls started joking about it, Caroline Perea ’20 (Arvada, Colo.) said. The same held true for the peacoats. “Some were dark navy, some black, and even some close to purple,” she said, adding the girls really didn’t look that uniform when they were together.
Julia Arnold ’20 (Valparaiso, Ind.) agreed, adding that shopping for a camel or peacoat that met the Culver criteria was challenging. “These (new coats) are automatically approved and reduce the stress of shopping for a specific color and cut of coat,” she said.
Taking that stress off parents and students was a big reason for going with one uniform coat, Kelley said. But it did take some time to find one that would fit everyone; be suitable to wear with reg rec, daily, and formal situations; and still be reasonably priced.
Perea said the coats are a big hit. “They are simple, comfortable, water-resistant, and most important, warm,” she said. “The switch to the all-black jackets was a fantastic choice. I wear my uniform coat with reg rec and even outside of Culver.”
New CGA students were the first group required to purchase the coats. White said at the beginning of the year, the Uniform Department staff outfits each girl for the correct size, then Charles River will fill the order and ship them in early October for distribution. The department does have approximately 50 coats available on campus.
Returning students may still wear their camel and peacoats, Kelley said. But Perea and Arnold agreed the overwhelming majority of girls quickly made the switch.
That’s because the combination of price, quality and versatility of the coats have made them an instant favorite, Arnold said, adding that a lot of the girls intend to wear them “after their time at Culver.”