In an age where the fabric of choice for winter warmth is usually created in a laboratory, it's comforting to remember how Mother Nature doth provide. Take that wonder material wool: It's a nearly unparalleled natural insulator that's water repellent, but can also take up to 30 percent of its weight in moisture without feeling damp. Translation: It's perfect for almost every cold-weather adventure, be it urban or into the wild.
Johnson Woolen Mills, located in Johnson, Vermont, just north of Stowe, has been making some of the finest woolen garments in the United States since 1842, and is one of New England's most well-known and sought-after heritage brands. Its clothes are without question top quality and sharp looking, but our experiences with them have always been plagued by one tragic flaw: They're cut with a Paul Bunyan physique in mind. (We've left the factory store several times bummed that even the smallest plaid hunting jackets felt tailor-made for a grizzly bear.)
Apparently, Johnson sensed our disappointment and is now rolling out a few items with the, shall we say, more svelte-figured man in mind. One of our favorites, a shirt we first spotted over a year ago at Outdoor Retailer, is the Patch Long Tail Wool Shirt. It's not as heavy as the company's classic Jac Shirt, making it a perfect midlayer on a cold day walking around town or snowshoeing in the woods. The Long Tail comes in two handsome (and rustically named) patterns – Blueberry Lake and, our pick of the two, Montgomery Harvest. So for those of you left hanging by hip but tragically oversized made-in-the-USA gear, here's your chance to finally walk tall (if not big too). [$180; johnsonwoolenmills.com]