Pea Coat Overload
November 13, 2012 12:59 PM   Subscribe

I have very little experience with buying winter coats. In searching online for a semi-formal women's winter pea coat I have gotten completely overwhelmed with choices. Help?

It seems like everyone in DC has a black wool pea coat, and now I kind of want one too so I look like a grown-up at work. I have a really heavy-duty parka from my college years in Ohio, but I need something more formal. I'd like to find a warm, snazzy pea coat (not necessarily black) but I'm totally overwhelmed with online options. Coat should be:

- Less than $200 (preferably closer to $100)
- Prefer a simpler, more classic look to things with ruffles/fake fur
- Pockets
- Quality materials (more wool in the wool blend, right? Also, is Thinsulate particularly good?)
- I like the classic black pea coat look, but ideally this coat would be ever so slightly more interesting in some way either in fabric (tweed or herringbone or not black) or a nice subtle touch (toggles or colorblock or neat buttons)

Also, about half my commute involves walking about a mile outside and the other half involves being underground in crowded, heated metro cars.

I've found some good options on several of the major retailers I could think of, so if you have any particularly good/bad experience with any of these or better suggestions for where to look let me know!

American Eagle

London Fog



Old Navy
posted by forkisbetter to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (31 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I don't own that particular pea coat, but the last coat I purchased from Old Navy lasted 6 weeks before it started coming apart at the seams. Just so you know.
posted by AmandaA at 1:04 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, don't expect decent quality from Old Navy on anything other than pajamas, and even that is chancy these days.

Would you be open to vintage/thrift stores? You might be able to get stuff of better quality there, tbh.
posted by elizardbits at 1:10 PM on November 13, 2012

I have had good experience with Lands' End wool peacoats. The quality is nice and they have lots of colors, pockets, and are usually very classic in styling. This one is classic while being interesting. Here is a classic short one and here is a longer one. The longer ones will be warmer.
This last one is more than $200, but if you pay attention to the site a lot in the next couple of weeks, you're almost guaranteed to hit on some kind of sale. If you can wait until after Thanksgiving, you'll probably be able to get it at a price under $200. They are always having sales at Lands' End, especially on outerwear at this time of year.
posted by aabbbiee at 1:10 PM on November 13, 2012 [7 favorites]

Go to a department store and try them on. I like Macy's because they have good quality merchandise and lots of sales and coupons.

A coat is worth actually shopping for in person. It's what most everyone will see you in, everyday in the winter.

So take the Metro out to Tyson's Corners, maybe on Saturday, go alone, you don't want a friend to be all put out with you for trying on every permutation of the same damn coat.

Be sure to stop for lunch and to catch your breath.

Also, wear a sweater so you can see if the sleves will fit well over bulky items.

You only have to do this once a decade if you do it right.

You won't even have to spend too much on it. Under $200, easily.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:11 PM on November 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

Seconding the Land's End peacoats aabbbiee linked. I have the shorter Luxe Wool Peacoat, but I'm petite (5'3") and it hits about mid-thigh for me. It's absurdly soft, warm and comfortable. Easily comparable to much more expensive coats. Land's End (and LL Bean, also worth checking out) has a lot of coupons around the holidays, it shouldn't be hard to find a good discount.
posted by sonmi at 1:17 PM on November 13, 2012

If you want something to wear consistently over the long-term, avoid places like Old Navy and Delia's and spend as much money as you can afford.

That said, the winter coat I wear the most was purchased last year from JCPenney for less than $100. The wool is of markedly lower quality than the Michael Kors coat I've had for eight years, but it's perfectly serviceable for everyday wear and I'm sure I'll get a few seasons out of it at least. If you don't want to commit to one coat for more than a couple of years, try JCP. It's my secret weapon for stuff like this.

I do think you're going to be best served by going to stores and physically trying them on, no matter which route you decide to take.
posted by something something at 1:22 PM on November 13, 2012

Thirding the suggestion for Lands End (or LL Bean). Good quality, classic styling, no ruffles or frills that will go out of style anytime soon. If you have a Sears nearby, they may have some Lands End inventory for you to try on.

Anecdote: I had a peacoat from LL Bean and the lining wore thin and ripped after just two winters of wear. I took it back to an LL Bean store and they gave me a full refund. (I subsequently replaced it with a Lands End coat that has gone through 2 cold-climate winters and is still in good shape.)
posted by watch out for turtles at 1:23 PM on November 13, 2012

I've had really good luck with coats from JCrew. If you can wait until late winter, you can probably get a pretty good deal once they go on sale. They've got a wide variety of nice wool coats usually fairly classic cuts and interesting colors. THey seem well-made to me (at least they haven't worn out). They're mostly around $250 not on sale, so a little out of your price range, but I've been super-happy with the three coats I've gotten from them. This one particularly looks like it might be the sort of thing you're looking for. Classic double-breasted peacoat but with contrast trim, and on a little bit of sale right now.
posted by duien at 1:42 PM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'd like to suggest looking at a toggle coat instead of a peacoat. It's still a classic look but is just a little bit different than a peacoat. I have a black hooded one from Liz Clairborne that was a gift from my parents and it looks almost new after 4 seasons of wear and one drycleaning. They usually come in solid colors. You can google them or search zappos for toggle coat.
posted by shortyJBot at 1:42 PM on November 13, 2012

Of your options, the only one I would pick as a durable every-day winter coat is the London Fog option (and it's lovely to boot!). The Delia's jacket is super cute and trendy, but more of a novelty/trend item, I think. Agree with others that the other stores (except maybe Uniqlo, I've heard good things about them) are more fast fashion/disposable than durable.

If I were buying a pea coat to be my everyday winter coat, I would choose either the Land's End coats that other commenters have recommended, or this LL Bean pea coat. This wool-lined trench is another good option for early winter and early spring (the lining zips in and out. And I covet it.).

I totally agree with other commenters that Land's End and Bean often have coupons. In fact if you google "[store name] coupons" often things appear. Ahem.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:42 PM on November 13, 2012

Response by poster: I'm in my early twenties, so I like the narrower more form-fitting cut of some of the retailers. I have worn a Landsend coat in the past and found it to be unflattering, which is why I was hesitant to get another one.
posted by forkisbetter at 1:42 PM on November 13, 2012

It's definitely true that Lands End coats run on the roomier side, though it could be worth trying a petite size if that applies to you. They've gotten a little more fashion-conscious recently with their new Canvas line and as a result a lot of their stuff is better-cut than it used to be. Mine is a little roomy, but I like wearing giant sweaters and scarves, so. Definitely look at J.Crew, their quality has gone down in a lot of ways in recent years but their outerwear is still gorgeous.
posted by sonmi at 2:08 PM on November 13, 2012

I really like Tulle coats. They have a lot of updated variations on the classic pea coat with a slimmer silhouette, are under $100, and I've found their wool blend coats keep me warm through most of the winter (disclaimer: I am in Alaska; when it drops below 0°F I wear my grandmother's fur coat).

Nordstrom is carrying two styles, and now I'm coveting that polka dot one.
posted by rhapsodie at 2:14 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Macy's. I have long coats in this style from Anne Klein and Calvin Klein and all were well under $200, are fitted and look nice.
posted by justonegirl at 2:16 PM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

That coat from Uniqlo, if their products stateside are the same as the ones sold in Japan, will probably be too flimsy to keep you warm during a DC winter.
posted by misozaki at 2:16 PM on November 13, 2012

Definitely go into a department store and try some on. Coats sizes and quality can vary soooo much, you don't want to waste any money. Some good places to buy a coat are: Macy's, Burlington, Nordstrom (sometimes they have sales), Express. Good brands (London Fog, Calvin Klein, Guess, Columbia)

I'd stay away from Delia's and Old Navy, their coats look cute but are too thin to provide any real comfort. Looking warm while you're freezing sucks.
posted by mariisoul at 2:44 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

nthing the Lands' End peacoat - I had the short one for about four years, and it was perfect. For the price, it was perfect and I only gave it up when I tired of linty black in my busy household.

Sometimes Sears has a Lands' End section, and you might be able to find one to try on if there's one near you - but yes, online coupons rule so I often try on in stores and then shop online. Because I've purchased there before, the minute I clicked over there I was offered 30% off and free shipping.
posted by peagood at 2:59 PM on November 13, 2012

Don't have a recommendation for a specific pea coat, but given the timing I highly recommend the following strategy:

Wait until after Christmas to buy your coat.

You will get far, far more coat for your $100 eight weeks from now than you will now. Three years ago, my wife got a big down coat for Christmas. She liked it a lot but it didn't fit. After Christmas she went to Banana Republic to return it for store credit. She spent the store credit that same day purchasing the same coat she had just returned but in her size, as well as two other coats that she liked, and a pair of gloves to zero out the balance.

If you can wait it out, the wait will be worth it.
posted by gauche at 3:17 PM on November 13, 2012

Seconding duien's recommendation of the J Crew peacoats, which are cut well (and slim), and come in great colors. I like the classic myself. If you're not in a huge hurry, you can keep an eye on their sale section, because things usually show up there, and they often do sales where they take an extra percentage off all sale items.

Three Stones coats are also beautiful.

That said, my current wool coat is from Delia's-- I thrifted it three years ago and have worn it a lot since, and it still looks great and is in good shape. I was shocked at how nice and non-teenagery it looks (as long as you don't see the heart-covered lining), and it has held up much better than I expected it to. I don't know if this quality is consistent, but this coat has been great.
posted by dizziest at 3:46 PM on November 13, 2012

Seconding the Tulle coats. This is only going to be my third real winter, but I got one from Nordstrom Rack before last winter and it kept me plenty warm through the Chicago winter, albeit last year was pretty mild. It also held up well, although again, it's only been a year. The only annoyance, and this seems to be a thing with the brand rather than my specific coat, is that there's not a little loop to hang your coat on a hook. Annoying for me because that's how I end up needing to hang it most of the time, but maybe not for you.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 5:29 PM on November 13, 2012

If you know anyone with a Costco card, they almost always have basic black/gray ladies peacoats during this time of year. I probably have seven from various past winters in different lengths and weights and they've held up surprisingly well. I think they're often from the "discount" lines from major producers like Kenneth Cole and Calvin Klein, but they're a good deal. One caveat: I've never found a smaller size than a 4 at the Pentagon City Costco, but I usually wear sweaters underneath my coats anyway. The one I got last year is a beautiful deep red with a detachable hood, and I actually kind of like that it stands out.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:30 PM on November 13, 2012

Lands End! I couldn't do without my red peacoat from there.
posted by BostonTerrier at 5:38 PM on November 13, 2012

I bought this one from H&M on sale for $50 a few weeks ago that I absolutely love. It cinches in nicely at the waist, and it's actually very warm! Sadly, it doesn't appear they are selling them on their US site anymore (they do have them on the UK site). There were still a ton in the store when I was there though. Maybe you can find this one or a similar style in the clearance section?
posted by Oliva Porphyria at 6:52 PM on November 13, 2012

Try . I think the authentic runs $210 but you will never have to by another one.
posted by Silvertree at 7:04 PM on November 13, 2012

I'm from Buffalo, NY so I take outerwear seriously. Don't pay full price - there are always coupons and deals to be had. J. Crew has pretty coats but they're pricey - try J. Crew Factory. If you check it out soon, there's a 30% off promotion going on. Slant pockets are super important to me (as opposed to patch pockets). Also, make sure the coat fits well in the shoulders - too snug and it'll look weird, too big and it will look like you're wearing your mother's coat. I tried a Tulle coat last year and it was too snug for me. Definitely wear a sweater or blazer when you try it on so you know how it'll fit. If you want to wear something other than a boring black coat, you can go for another color that's still dark but a little different, like purple or dark green.
posted by kat518 at 7:28 PM on November 13, 2012

JCrew has the most beautiful coats, IMO, but they are pricey. Unfortunately, the stars have never aligned where one is discounted at a time that I require a coat, so I can't speak to their actual quality.

I got a fabulous knee-length wool Theory coat last year for $200 at a Theory outlet. Extremely warm and wildly flattering peacoat/military style. This was at an big after Christmas sale; the retail was about $700 (which is sheer madness). That's really the best time of year to buy outerwear sales-wise so if you can wait a couple of months it's really worth it.

If you can't wait, then I think a H&M coat is better quality and cuter than Old Navy for the same price. I bought a dirt cheap trench there two springs ago on clearance and it's been surprisingly durable and has a nice silhouette. Old Navy coats just feel cheap and look terrible and lumpy whenever I try them on. That said, Gap is sometimes a good option for basic peacoats - I've found that their outerwear is still decent quality. Banana Republic, too, but they're about as pricey as JCrew.
posted by gatorae at 7:44 PM on November 13, 2012

I don't have anything new to suggest about where to look, but I do recommend you think about getting a coat in charcoal gray or another color instead of black. Whenever I have gotten a black wool coat I have regretted it because it shows every piece of lint, stray hair, cat fur, etc, that I come into contact with. They are impossible to keep looking neat and clean.
posted by apricot at 4:48 AM on November 14, 2012

I always buy my coats at Marshalls and TJ Maxx but if you have something specific in mind you are better off going to Macy's. Macy's will have the coat you are looking for. If you buy it on sale it will cost between $99.99 and $250. Go when they're having a sale (actually their Veteran's Day sale runs through Thursday, looks like) and print out the coupon from the website (or open a Macy's charge).
posted by mskyle at 5:57 AM on November 14, 2012

I got a beautiful wool coat from Benetton several years ago, in an an after-Christmas sale, for about $100. It's held up really well. I don't know what their offerings are like this year, but it's worth a shot.

Agree with apricot's suggestion of gray versus black. This coat of mine is a heather gray color and it shows no dirt whatsoever.
posted by baby beluga at 6:11 AM on November 14, 2012

Land's End have some really nice ones at the moment - I don't suit the straight shape (I like my coats to flare out a bit) otherwise I would have thought about getting the green one.

Do you have good vintage stores in DC? If you're a smaller size, you could probably get something better made for the same cost if you hunt it out. My favourite coat (which I plan to jog my way back into next year) was a vintage Macy's one from Etsy and it's gorgeous.
posted by mippy at 6:17 AM on November 14, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for really great suggestions! I had never heard of Tulle before, but they have beautiful coats that are extremely inexpensive (many right now are $50).

I think I'm probably going to end up getting a funky hip young person coat, that perhaps is not quite as warm and durable, and wait until after Christmas to go for the long-lasting serious coat.

Thanks again!
posted by forkisbetter at 9:13 AM on November 14, 2012

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