Please tell me what nice coat to buy!
January 25, 2020 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Every year I set out to buy a new and nice coat so I can stop wearing the old hand-me-down one I got for free 10 years ago, and every year I get overwhelmed by the choices and give up. Please help me! Tell me what coat to buy! Criteria inside.

I clearly keep coats forever, so I am happy to spend more to get something very high-quality that I'll be able to wear for years. I'd like either a down coat or a (single-breasted) wool coat, not sure which. Happy to get recommendations for both.

- High-quality
- Appropriate for maybe 0 - 35 degrees? I live in North Carolina, where it doesn't get particularly cold, but I am a big wimp and run colder than most people so I'd like something that is maybe slightly more warm than necessary for this climate. I also travel to colder places sometimes (Chicago, Boston) and it would be nice if this coat could work for those occasions.
- At least butt-length, longer is fine
- Has a hood
- Looks relatively nice and not super sporty
- Nice touches like thoughtful pocket placements, etc. are appreciated
- Fits my body type well (I'm tall with long arms, a long torso and narrow shoulders)
- I am fine ordering things online.

Recommendations for specific brands and (better) specific coats very welcome. I've seen previous questions but would like updated recommendations. Thank you!
posted by aka burlap to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Forgot to add, these brands are on my radar from previous questions so specific advice about these brands are welcome as well: Fjallraven, Lands End, Canada Goose (too warm?).
posted by aka burlap at 9:20 AM on January 25, 2020

I love my coat from Duluth Trading Company. Super high quality and cool extra pockets, including an interior pocket that holds my largish cell phone. It also has warm inner sleeves that keep my wrists from getting cold. I don’t see the exact one on the website now, but their quality can’t be beat.
posted by FencingGal at 9:28 AM on January 25, 2020

Take a close friend with you when you shop. Another opinion, for me, makes shopping easier.
posted by tmdonahue at 9:28 AM on January 25, 2020

The J. Crew Chateau Parka has a hood and comes in Tall sizes. The current selection on the website is a bit picked over, since sale’s been going on awhile. Personally, I would order whatever color it came in in my size and then once you knew your fit, I’d return it and browse secondhand sites. They make this style every year so there should be a rainbow of colors (and many generations of staple neutral colors) out there that are probably more reasonably-priced. I don’t have this particular coat, but I have other coats of theirs made from the same Italian wool that have held up great over the years.
posted by alygator at 9:44 AM on January 25, 2020

I love my puffy long coat from Lands End. For a coat that is has a bit of puff to it, the fit doesn't make me look like a giant round purple grape. It's warm but not too warm and has held up really well the two years I've had it.
posted by ilovewinter at 9:50 AM on January 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

Canada Goose is wonderful - they are very warm and well thought out - but you pay for it. They can run up to over $1,000. So if money is no object . . . . Eddie Baur makes some very nice stuff, my wife has a stadium coat that she loves. I assume Lands End and L.L. Bean are equally as good.
posted by rtimmel at 9:51 AM on January 25, 2020

There are some other Canadian coat brands that are very warm, and more beautifully made than a Canada Goose.
Expensive and fashionable: Rudsak, Mackage,
Expensive and a bit more “functional“ looking: Moose Knuckles, Nobis
More affordable: Soia and Kyo
Vegan: Wuxly
posted by nouvelle-personne at 9:59 AM on January 25, 2020 [4 favorites]

If you go with Canada Goose, be aware that there is a thriving market in fakes. See this Atlantic article.
posted by FencingGal at 10:56 AM on January 25, 2020

The J. Crew Chateau Parka has a hood and comes in Tall sizes. The current selection on the website is a bit picked over, since sale’s been going on awhile.

Very popular in part because the "poor" character in Knives Out is wearing a visibly brand-new one for what seems like more than half the movie!

Down coats and wool coats are usually very different styles. Good down coats are almost always warmer, but the (inherently necessary) puffiness presents style challenges that means the look is almost always going to be casual/sporty/technical. Wool coats are less warm, but can provide a sleeker, more professional appearance. Low-end wool will withstand wet weather better than low-end down, but more expensive down will have some form of water-proofing or water resistance. Both are a pain to clean. I wear my wool coat to work (in a more formal-than-average industry), etc., until it gets to around below zero, at which point I'm like, eff it. I'd think you'd want to answer the question of which meets your needs and fits your lifestyle first.
posted by praemunire at 11:29 AM on January 25, 2020

If you are tall I've found fjallraven stuff tends to run long, which is lovely. I've tried on a few jackets, and quite liked the Kiruna, but honestly it might be too warm for what you need. Most of their coats will be too warm for you, so if recommend sticking with JCrew tall coats. (I swear I've recommended JCrew tall coats like 4x on metafilter at this point.)
posted by larthegreat at 11:46 AM on January 25, 2020

They can be pricey but I recommend checking out Helly Hansen. They of course have sports style items, but also more fashionable parkas and such.

I have the Bonye parka. Which is more geared toward fall/mild winter. But I've been able to layer under it and the quality and windproof ness has done well. You may want something more insulated. But I can say, quality is great, pockets are planned - flap with snaps and a side slip under it - zipper is dual ended so your thighs don't get cut off when you sit down, snap flap, hood, adjustable cording. And it looks really good on.

I would definitely go to them when looking for more outerwear.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:07 PM on January 25, 2020

Maybe be more specific. I live in Maine. I have a goretex jacket that I wear with or without a fleece jacket or vest for most winter activity. I have a long down coat that is super warm and useful about 10 - 15 days of any given winter. And a short Merino wool coat that is soft, pretty warm, as dressy as I ever need to be. All came from thrift shops, but LL Bean is here so there's a good selection. I will unrecommend down, which can be warm, but in NC not worth the maintenance requirements.

L.L.Bean Sweater Fleece 3-in-1 Jacket or Weather Challenger 3-in-1 Jacket or Boiled Wool Coat

LandsEnd usually has something quite similar, as well as Women's Fit and Flare Long Wool Coat that looks pretty classic as well as warm.

Eddie Bauer has similar.

This REI Trech coat is parka-ish, and you could wear it over a fleece if it's really cold.

Coats are on sale, limited options for sizes and colors, but many retailers have similar products, just don't dawdle.
posted by theora55 at 1:18 PM on January 25, 2020

I’ve had a Marmot Montreaux coat for many years; when I outgrew the first, I bought a size up. It is in no way fashion-forward, but it’s also not embarrassingly trendy. It’s sub-$300 and typically you can find last season’s on sale. It does come with a faux fur hood trim, which is removable so you can air-dry it. Finally, it does 40F in Cleveland and -30F in Fairbanks. Above 40, it’s probably overkill.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 2:06 PM on January 25, 2020

Oh also the zipper is A+, which is extremely important to me, and where previous coats (Land’s End, Andrew Marc, various) have fallen down on the job.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 2:07 PM on January 25, 2020

Are you male or female presenting?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:20 PM on January 25, 2020

Wuxly Movement is a sustainable premium outerwear comparable to Canadian Goose but doesn't use fur or feathers. I don't have one yet but my friend does and it is super duper warm -- the company claims their coats will keep you warm to something like -35. They also have a Live Warm Trade-In Program to trade in your down or fur-trimmed jacket for a credit on your new coat. They have styles for men and women.
posted by katinka-katinka at 2:30 PM on January 25, 2020

Response by poster: Are you male or female presenting?

Female presenting.

These are great answers; keep 'em coming and thanks!
posted by aka burlap at 2:46 PM on January 25, 2020

I'm in NC, too, and I sometimes have to go to Seoul in the winter, where it's much colder than Durham, and also where I often have to walk a lot outside in the cold weather and also stand around waiting for the bus and such. Winter temperatures in Seoul are similar to NYC, I'd say.

For work, where I have to present as 'business professional,' I've been wearing a black L.L. Bean wool coat that's about knee length for me. The exact model is discontinued, but it's similar to their current Lambswool Polo coat. Sometimes I will switch it out with my navy L.L. Bean wool car coat, which comes just past my butt. They've definitely been fine for Triangle-area winters, but I found they weren't warm enough for me past minus 10 degrees Celsius when I was in Seoul. That's when I wished i had a full-length down coat like what everybody else seemed to be wearing. The ones I saw women wearing in Seoul were much dressier looking than down coats I've seen in the U.S. Moncler seemed to be a popular brand for women's down coats. I didn't end up getting one because I felt these long down coats would be overkill for local winters.

In the recent local cold spell, when not out for work I've been wearing a hooded lined Uniqlo coat that's knee-length on me, and definitely more casual looking than my wool coats, what with all the pockets and zippers. Usually I wear it over a t-shirt, and even then it sometimes feels overwarm. Sadly it's a discontinued model. I've found knee-length coats to be warmer than butt-length ones, all else being equal.

When it's chilly and I want to wear a lighter coat to work, I wear this Uniqlo hooded coat. Because of the design it's actually not as warm as my L.L. Bean wool coats, so that's why I wear it when it's not very cold.

One consideration when buying winter coats is what you plan to wear under one. I can wear a suit jacket under the wool coats I wear to work. While I can wear heavy sweaters under my Uniqlo casual hooded coat, it wouldn't accommodate a suit jacket.

For your body type, I second checking out J. Crew. Also take a look at Brooks Brothers.
posted by research monkey at 2:52 PM on January 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

L.L.Bean’s Baxter State Parka Is a splurge worthy coat. It’s like wearing a down comforter. Super warm and like half the price of Canada Goose. My husband used to borrow mine so much to walk the dog that I finally got him one of his own. Plus the ladies’ version has 10 pockets. It’s awesome and convenient and I love that I have all the pocket privilege of a dude during winter.
posted by donut_princess at 5:48 PM on January 25, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks for the great suggestions, everyone!
posted by aka burlap at 3:26 PM on January 26, 2020

I have two favorites:
1) The Fiona parka from Patagonia. But it’s awfully expensive; I got a special deal several years ago, but I’d probably never pay full price for it. It’s got great shape to it though.
2) A soft shell just-above-the-knee length hooded jacket from Eddie Bauer. I don’t recall what it’s called, but probably you would want something more insulated than this one. It’s perfect for what I bought it for, which is bicycle commuting. I can unzip the two-way zipper up to my lap for that. I very much like their outerwear. They are coincidentally having a huge sale right now.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 7:46 PM on January 26, 2020

If it’s fancy enough for your needs, I’ve been really loving the Eddie Bauer “Girl on the go’ insulated ‘trench’ coat - which I found recommended here on Askme!

Without the inner layer, it’s a great rain layer almost year round, and sufficient for most of fall/spring in NYC. With the layer, it gets me all through winter, though on coldest days or if I know I’ll be doing a lot of standing around waiting for buses or something, I’ll put a warm sweater under. It has a great inner picker and looks pretty good even with the pockets stuffed with gloves etc.

I will still use my ultra light super warm down jacket if I want to shlep the lightest load possible in and around the subway or stores (and no rain on forecast). Though that may not be so applicable if you mostly travel by car?
posted by Salamandrous at 6:50 AM on January 27, 2020

Many people are going to disagree, but if you are getting a forever grownup coat, get a wool coat and not a synthetic. J. Crew, LL Bean whatever — just make it wool.
posted by dame at 9:02 AM on January 27, 2020

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