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Winter Coats: How To Buy One That Will Last For Ages

Winter Coats: How To Buy One That Will Last For Ages
Carly Jacobs

‘Oh my god I love that coat! Where did you get it???’

I laughed at my friend and said ‘Are you serious? You were with me when I bought it! And then you totally regretted not getting one yourself!’

To be fair, I hadn’t seen her in ages and said shopping trip was well over ten years ago. I just love how her obsession with this coat has never wained, even when she forgot that she’d seen it before. I bought this coat when it was on sale from $500 to $150 at store I’ve only seen in Melbourne called Chelsea. The store is sort of aimed at women a bit older than me but I’ve found some absolute gems there in my time, including this amazing coat. It’s 100% boiled wool and warm as toast. I’ve had to sew the buttons back on a few times and recently the cuffs started to fray so I crocheted over the edges to keep them together. I fully intend on getting another ten years out of it, minimum. It’s kind of like a cardigan coat so it’s stretchy and fits over bulky jumpers for really cold days.

winter coat

Coat from Chelsea – Purchased circa 2010

If you’re a regular around here, you’ll know I’m frugal, I’m good at mending things and I’m not too shabby at making meals out of whatever I have in the pantry at the time. I’m also a bit of a winter coat buying savant.

I’m pretty bloody good at making decent clothing purchases in general, but I’ve really done well on the winter coat stakes in the last few years, when I follow my proper winter coat buying formula. Back when our grandparents were young, people tended to have one good winter coat that they’d wear for a decade or two without replacing it. It would be a good quality, well made, warm coat and it would most likely be passed around family members until it literally fell apart.

I had a gorgeous coat in my late teens with a fur collar my auntie gave me when her mother in law passed away. It was wasn’t her daughters’ style so it was given to me. I wore that forty-year-old coat for ten more years until it literally fell apart at the seams and my tailor told me it wasn’t fixable anymore. That’s what you want in a quality coat. For at least two people to get a few decades out of it.

winter coat

Down Coat from Muji – Purchased circa 2013 –  To be honest, down coats aren’t really my style but I travel a lot and when it’s REALLY cold, down is the only way to go. I had it in my head that I wanted to replace this coat this year but you know what? He’s still going strong. I’ll keep him around for a few more years.

I’m under no delusions that you can still buy items quality items like the aforementioned coat. I think some modern items will accidentally last decades but I don’t think many companies plan for that to happen. They like you to replace things as often as what is considered reasonable. It’s how they make their money. I literally haven’t bought a new winter coat in 5 years, because I made good purchasing decisions. Here’s how I did it…

Tips For Buying An Awesome Winter Coat

1. Buy it a size or two larger than your regular size 

Most of my coats are a size 16 which is a little bigger than I normally buy but I like to have extra space under my coats so I can add layers if it gets really cold. I live in Melbourne and it’s one of the coldest places to live in Australia. It sometimes even gets below zero at night. I can hear all the Canadians laughing at me right now about how I think below zero is cold but most of my coat see me through some of the chilliest days in Oz.

2. Spend some money 

Cheap coats suck. I’ve had several in my life and they’re just rubbish. The inner lining rips apart, they don’t sit right, the seams are often bumpy and weird and I swear I had a cheap coat once that smelt like grass and the smell NEVER WENT AWAY, no matter how many times I had it cleaned. It just constantly smelt like I slept in a barn. It was weird. If you can get a quality second-hand coat (I literally bought a leather jacket for $20 the other day from Vinnies) absolutely go for it but you should get the best quality you can, which usually means forking out some cash. I used to buy a $100 t0 $150 coat every year or so because they needed replacing that often. Since I started spending $300 plus on coats I don’t replace them anywhere near as often.

winter coat

Coat from Sportscraft – Purchased circa 2013 –  I bought this coat about 5 years ago from Sportscraft and it’s already been a pretty great purchase. It was about $400 at the time but I just knew it was a good buy. It’s 100% wool outer, super warm and it’s a classic style that looks great over almost anything.

3. Go with a classic colour 

A few years ago baby pink coats were all the rage and I was super keen to get one but I held off for two reasons. 1. Baby pink is not a colour I ever wear and 2. that makes it a fad colour for me and it just wouldn’t stand the test of time. Charcoal grey or navy looks rad with everything and if I want to add a seasonal colour (like baby pink or this season’s maroon) I can chuck a scarf over the top of it and look totally on trend. If I happen to be caring about looking trendy which I usually don’t.

4. Make sure it’s comfortable

A few months ago I spied an amazing coat with a Japanese structural collar. This collar was incredible and totally my style but it was really stiff and kept rubbing under my chin. So not cool. I didn’t buy it for this exact reason because I knew I wouldn’t wear the damn thing if it was uncomfortable. I can have a nap in any of my existing coats and be perfectly comfortable. Good life choices there.

winter coat

Vintage faux coat from Vinnies – Given to me by auntie about ten years ago. She’s a hardcore op shopper and just randomly buys fabulous things hoping that her daughters or nieces might like it. This was one of my best scores from her, it’s super warm and bit more glam than my other coats for more fancy winter occasions. I added the obi belt to give it a bit of shape.

5. Make sure it’s warm

I went on my first overseas trip when I was 19 and took a cheap coat I bought from maybe Supre or something and I froze my ass off. My cheap little coat only had 2 buttons (because fashion) and was fine for dashing around Canberra in my heated car but I nearly froze alive when I was waiting on tube platforms in the London winter. Plastic coats are not warm. You need wool. And thermals underneath if it’s super cold.

What’s your winter coat like? Do you love it? Or are looking for a new one?

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  1. Author
    Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

    I love turquoise I should really where it more often. I like Very Very – they did really cute coats back in the day.

  2. Author
    Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

    That’s so weird! Why so many? I find the colder the climate the less coats I own because I just always pick my one warmest coat. My down one! It’s so average looking but I don’t care. I love it.

  3. Author
    Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

    Isn’t annoying when coats stop fitting? They’re so expensive to replace.

  4. Kathryn OHalloran 5 years ago

    One of my best coat buys was from Big W. I was waiting for my sister in the city after work and it’d turned cold, so ran into get something warm and found a leopard print trench coat. I think it was like $20 on sale. I’ve had that coat for about 10 years. For a while I worked with a woman who was a real fashion snob and she asked me what label it was 🙂

    I hate down coats. I have one from Uniqlo and even though I know it’s practical as hell and great for travel, I never feel good wearing it. I’ve got a couple of duds and they are both Hellbunny label. Their coats are just way too high waisted for me. I got the second one from Modcloth and they don’t put the actual brand on their site or I’d have never bought a second one knowing that.


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