I don't want a fabulous coat-parachute, thanks!
August 19, 2011 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Fellow short/petite women, please tell me your favorite winter coat brands, styles, and sources! I need a new classic, black wool winter coat, and I mostly do the sales/consignment/discount/online shop thing.

I've decided that I need a new classic winter coat, the kind that will last for years. I want it in black wool or a wool-angora or wool-cashmere blend. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where it rains and sometimes freezes, but never snows, so it doesn't have to be ultra-thick.

My problem is that many coats just SWIM on me. I went to the Burlington Coat Factory the other day and tried on coats on a whim, and they had some lovely coats, but all were HUGE, beyond what a tailor could easily alter. The "petite" selection was minimal and mostly parkas. Boo.

I am 5'2" and a size 4-6 and can usually get away with regular non-petite sizes in dresses and skirts. (Pants are another story!) I like to wear a size larger in coats so that I can layer underneath and move my arms easily, so I'd probably move up to a 6-8. For work, I wear dresses and skirts, so I want a coat that goes about to mid-calf for wearing with boots.

I really want to avoid trudging around Macy's and Nordstrom's and trying on every coat they have and then try to find a particular coat online or at a discount. So I'm asking the hive mind for suggestions so I can narrow down my target before I start. What brands fit you best? What styles were the most flattering? What brick-and-mortar (SF Bay Area, please) or online stores are your favorite? What other winter coat hacks do you have?
posted by Rosie M. Banks to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
My favorite coat ever came from Land's End petites section. It fits me perfectly, is good quality, and after I ordered it online it came swiftly and if I recall correctly, I even found a free shipping coupon. I'd highly recommend them.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 9:55 AM on August 19, 2011


Oh, I just remembered, I've actually bought two coats from Land's End - one was a long, puffy coat that fit me equally well and was high quality, etc, but I always forget about it since it wasn't exactly my style, I just needed it for warmth back when I lived in the midwest. However that is not the poor coat's fault and it served me well.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 9:57 AM on August 19, 2011


I know you said you don't want to do Macy's but I've found that they have a really good selection of Petites coats.
posted by rglass at 9:58 AM on August 19, 2011


I don't mind Macy's per se; I just don't want to pay full retail price if I don't have to, nor do I want to spend a whole morning trying on coats I have no intention of buying so I can find that brand or style elsewhere.

I would shop at Macy's during sale time, however. I really love Macy's sales.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:03 AM on August 19, 2011


J Crew's coats come in petite and strike the perfect balance between fabulous and classic. They're priced at a premium, of course, but they last forever. I'm currently (as in, this winter I'll be) wearing a pea coat of theirs passed down from my sister that's at least ten years old and still looks amazing. I get compliments on it all winter long.
posted by litnerd at 10:25 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


J. Crew has a series of fitted, classic styled wool and cashmere-wool blend coats but the longest ones hit just above the knee eg lady day coat (previous seasons had a version without thinsulate) or the plaza coat. They do go on sale every year at the end of season and you can also find them frequently NWT on ebay. What litnerd said.

Stylewise, I recommend against coats with belt/sash ties, I personally find it inconvenient as sometimes you want to have your coat open but not off, and then the ties dangle.
posted by tangaroo at 10:28 AM on August 19, 2011


Came in to recommend J. Crew petite coats too--guess I'm not the only one! I have the lady day coat with thinsulate lining and it is incredibly flattering, warm, and hard-wearing. I got it on sale two seasons ago for a pretty big discount (I think it ended up being under $200)--the "end of season" sale was in mid-December, so there was plenty of winter left. Note that the petite sizes are not only shorter but also narrower in the chest, so you might want to size up a bit (usually I wear a 2 or 4 in J. Crew stuff; the petite 6 coat is perfect but without much room to spare when worn over a couple of layers).
posted by Jemstar at 11:00 AM on August 19, 2011


Came in to recommend J. Crew petite coats too--guess I'm not the only one! I have the lady day coat with thinsulate lining and it is incredibly flattering, warm, and hard-wearing. I got it on sale two seasons ago for a pretty big discount (I think it ended up being under $200)--the "end of season" sale was in mid-December, so there was plenty of winter left. Note that the petite sizes are not only shorter but also narrower in the chest, so you might want to size up a bit (usually I wear a 2 or 4 in J. Crew stuff; the petite 6 coat is perfect but without much room to spare when worn over a couple of layers).

My fiancée is also a huge fan of J. Crew and their coats (as am I). She just picked up a one-off leftover from last winter a few weeks ago for $80, originally $325, on sale for $100 less a 20% discount code. Steals like that are few and far between, but there are lots of great sales to be had otherwise. Like Jemstar said, the end-of-season sales begin in mid-December, and continue through January. J. Crew is also big on offering 20% or 30% off specials on items already on sale, and those usually hit right after Christmas (the 26th or so), and are on and off for a few days at a time for the next month. I wouldn't buy anything without an extra 20% off of the sale price at that time, since it's usually only a matter of waiting a week or so before that 20% or 30% appears again. She's bought other coats that way, I've bought several that way, and each one ends up being anywhere from 40-50% off of the retail price.
posted by The Michael The at 12:13 PM on August 19, 2011


There's a J Crew outlet store at the outlet mall in Vacaville, right off I-80, if you're thinking J Crew works for you. They often have really good deals.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:14 PM on August 19, 2011


There's a J Crew outlet store

What the J. Crew outlet stores sell is a special selection of merchandise designed especially for the outlets using lesser materials at a cheaper price point. It's not bad per se, and I've bought a bunch of stuff from the JC outlets, but don't assume you're getting a good deal on mainline J. Crew products.
posted by The Michael The at 12:23 PM on August 19, 2011


That settles it! I'm going to J. Crew. There is a J. Crew in my city so I won't bother with the outlets (especially as The Michael The is absolutely right, store outlets often sell inferior goods). If I can't find what I want on Ebay or consignment, I can wait until December - I have a coat that will do until then, and the really bone-chilling damp cold hits about mid-December here.

Thanks everyone! I never thought of myself as a "J. Crew person" but you've convinced me! I looked at the "lady day coat" and that's just what I am looking for.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:54 PM on August 19, 2011


I have a "lady day" with Thinsulate... Set up an eBay "saved search" for it as they are not that rare "gently used," and there are a number of reliable J. Crew resellers who will sell you one half-price (with a black marker run through the tag).

I would not pay full price for it -- even with the Thinsulate I was cold in early December (in Ottawa, admittedly, but). It is not inferior compared to other coats on the market, just perhaps inferior to what coats used to be; I don't think such a thin wool would've been used on a winter coat twenty, even perhaps ten, years ago. And if what you are wearing underneath makes it a wee bit snug around the hips, the pockets pull and the lovely contrast colour satin lining shows and it looks pretty bad. And mine is black and the fabric is a bit of a fuzz magnet. All that said, it has a lovely drape, beautiful lining, and a great cut (overlooking the pocket issue). It will certainly not swim on you -- it is cut like a sort of heavy dress, very form-fitting. Also very versatile. And ignore my Canadian complaints; it'd be perfect for SF "winter"!
posted by kmennie at 8:06 PM on August 19, 2011


Just beware that the JCrew retail stores generally have a much smaller selection of items than are available online. You should be able to find a few things to try on but possibly not all of the items you see online. I do a lot of ordering off the website, usually the sale stuff and getting free shipping. Then whatever doesn't fit I take to the store near me to return. They just went to a flat shipping rate which is a much better deal than they had before when you do have to pay for shipping. Oh, and you might get free shipping if you order in the store.

I love their coats and agree with the recommendation to check out their offerings.
posted by JenMarie at 9:27 PM on August 19, 2011


Thanks to the Nordie's Womens and Kids Sale, I found a beautiful black lambswool coat (George Simonton) in a petite size. It's very comfortable and easy to move around in, will look great with all of my outfits, and the lambswool fabric is perfectly adequate for Bay Area winters (fog is our enemy, not snow) especially if I layer under it.

All the replies in this thread were extremely helpful, so thank you Green fashionistas!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:53 PM on November 9, 2011


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