When I first moved to New York in 2009, I had never seen snow. A born-and-raised Floridian, I owned exactly one winter coat: A Ralph by Ralph Lauren military number I picked up at Burlington Coat Factory in 2000. My first few years in NYC were lean. It got so cold in my Brooklyn apartment, I slept in that coat almost every night — and wore it every day.
It was practically a national holiday when I had enough money to buy a new coat in 2012. And since then, I’ve strategically acquired a well-rounded coat collection — including a consignment puffer, a second-hand trench, a consignment plaid peacoat and a basic black coat. All were affordable and warm.
They’re also all business — no frills.
A reliable coat is as important to New Yorkers as a functioning car for Los Angelenos. And because a coat is often all that protects us from snow, subway seat germs and errant bus splashes, most of us choose function over design. But just like a car, a coat CAN come with some luxurious bells and whistles — call it the convertible effect.
And this year, I decided I wanted the convertible — something special I didn’t snag secondhand.
My goal was simple: find a luxury, non-boring coat that didn’t break the bank. I started by pinning Internet images, pining for a $795 Milly coat, but I just couldn’t justify a coat that sheds. Then I moved over to magazines, poring over this coat-centric feature in T Magazine — but was dismayed with Ferrari-esque prices.
So, I hit some of my favorite Brooklyn boutiques, hoping my old neighborhood might have some affordable options. I ran into two problems:
1. Quality coats, even non-designer, are expensive. Because I had bought all my coats second-hand or on super-duper sale, I was unprepared for the sticker shock. For a pretty coat with serious warmth, prices start at $500.
2. Unusual coats come at a particular premium and are the trickiest to purchase. I was particularly interested in a slouchy coat — but there’s a thin line between “oversized” and “sleeping bag.”
There’s only one thing to do in these situations: Try everything.
Here were some of the options I took for a test drive:
My verdict: I liked the slouchy shapes, but coats without buttons are not really “coats.” I also wanted something more colorful.
My take? The green coat was gorgeous, but I have no experience with vegan coats and am unfamiliar with the warmth quotient. The varsity coat is adorable — but pure novelty.
My favorites: The black and white version is a surefire classic and the red slouch coat reminds me of Fargo. (That’s a big compliment.)
I THINK I’ve found my dream coat, but you tell me: Do you have any favorites from this post? And are you trying out the new slouchy shapes in stores? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.