I'm too short to wear the heavy Carhartt coats-they are stiff and I can't move in them. But a heavy weight Carhartt sweatshirt is my winter coat, with a rain jacket and vest over it. If you wear it every day in the winter and don't wash it it will soften up next winter. If you wear it occasionally and wash it once a week it will soften up by early fall. Oh yeah it will bleed its color, and reach that coveted "I work outside and I EARNED this faded Carhartt" state of perfectly worn and comfortable. If you don't use them around sharp things, like my husband does (tractors? cars? hay knives? hunting knives? I don't know how he does it but the fronts are always shredded) it will last you years and years. My kids have Carhartt coats and they outgrow them and the coats still look brand new and the kids do chores every day outside. DH gets about 4 years out of a Carhartt and he works in steel fab, hauls hay, works on stuff, hunts, ect lives in the coat every day for eight months of the year. It's good stuff but it's industrial strength clothing and it cares more that you're warm for years than if it's soft to the touch.
I would have frozen to death many moons ago without my Carhartt coveralls. They are many years old, now faded with a large denim patch on my hay bale carrying leg. *first world whine* I do not want to go through the stiffness thing again. Unless they've loosened their standards, they are THE BEST work wear manufacturers on the planet. When I must replace my old ones I think I'll wash them many times and hang them on the line for days.
I have the baby-shite brownish orange jacket and bibs. They will lose a lot of stiffness, but takes time and washings.
If you don't rip it on sharp stuff, it'll go on almost forever. Mine is about 5 years old, looks like the day I got it. Well, faded a bit. And mine gets worn hours daily all winter, every winter.
They do retain some stiffness. I have to unzip mine halfway to drive in it, because when I sit down it doesn't wrinkle very well so it just "stands" on the truck seat. Which makes the collar taller than my face, LOL! So I unzip it to see where I'm going!
Always wondered what people driving behind me think:
Is that the headless horseman???
The bibs stand up with or without me in them. First winter I walked like Gumby in those. But they're fine now. And so warm that if I wear those, I usually end up removing my jacket so I don't melt.
You jump in the saddle,
Hold onto the bridle!
Jump in the line!
Throw it on the ground and grind some dirt into it, like with a truck or tractor. Leave it outside to get rained on and sun-faded. Wash only when it moves on it's own. Repeat regularly. In a couple of years it may approach softness. It will last many, many years after that with regular abuse.
I bought a different brand I got from Cabela's. They are quilted and softer but yes, the only thing to wear when it's cold as blazes outside. I don't have the headless horseman problem because I am tall. However, I am wide, so I look like a quilted black Oompa Loompa.
I have Once black insulated coveralls. Several years old. My dear husband wanted me to throw them out after the deer attack last year (they were pretty bloody and have a hole right through the left thigh, in the front, out the back,) but I couldn't bear the thought of breaking in a new set, so they got washed thoroughly and are back in daily use.
Around here our local Carhartt supplier holds a contest. The person who brings in the most destroyed, well worn and close to death garment wins a free one. They are all displayed for public viewing and voting of the winner. It is a truly impressive tribute to ruggedness. Carhartt rules.
Oh yeah it will bleed its color, and reach that coveted "I work outside and I EARNED this faded Carhartt" state of perfectly worn and comfortable.
I cheated! My neighbor's were having a yard sale. I went over to browse. They had a box, under a table, with two old faded soft worn Carhartt jackets in it. I was fingering them - you know like good leather feels to finger - and the neighbor lady said oh those are free if you want them!
An old horse breeder friend of mine pointed to the tattered sleeve bottom when I was wearing one of them and asked me (in his heavy thick European brogue accent) "You sell a horse you gonna buy a new coat?"
Best thing has been said for new Carhartts - wet them, lay them in the gravel drive and drive back and forth over them.
another Carhartt tidbit. I had a friend here in town who was French I asked her what everyone wanted her to bring back for them when she made trips home, you know, what's the most requested item??? she said Carhartt's.
The truth is what you can get other people to believe.
I bought a men's Carhartt chore coat in 1985. That ugly brownish color with the wool blanket liner. Admittedly I have desk job so I don't wear it every day, but it remains my go-to coat for staying warm, regardless of whether it's wet, cold or windy.
After all these years, the cuffs are starting to fray a little.