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How to buy a winter coat

Red Wool Coat LongWhy am I writing about this when spring is approaching? Because winter coats are on sale now and it’s a good time to get a bargain.

I like long, warm wool coats, especially red ones. My niece brought the coat in the photo as a present for me. It fits perfectly. I get lots of compliments on it. However, I’m looking for a new one to have when my red coat wears out. Today I saw a cobalt blue coat at Macy’s. What was remarkable was that it had a hood. I liked it a lot, but it wasn’t long enough and it didn’t fit snugly around my neck.

Here are my top winter coat buying tips:

  • Decide what kind of coat you’d like. Long, short, puffer style, faux-fir trim, or hood. Usually, the selection of colors is limited for sale coats, but you could get lucky.
  • Check your favorite stores on the internet to see what kind of coats are on sale and what the prices are.
  • Decide how much you’d like to pay. My goal is to spend about $100, 50 percent off a $200 coat. A Calvin Klein coat for $340 now on sale for $189.99 at Macy’s is more than I want to pay.
  • Call your favorite retailers and see if they have coats on sale. If they do, plan a shopping trip.
  • Take the time to find a coat that fits well. Wear what you’d usually wear under a winter coat – a top, sweater, or blazer – so you can see how the coat fits. Make sure the coat fits well through the shoulders. The coat should hang straight down. Button or zip the coat and make sure it doesn’t pull anywhere. Check to see if there’s enough room through the armholes. Walk around and sit down to see if you can move around comfortably in the coat. The sleeves should end at the wrist or just below.
  • Be aware of your body type. Tall people can wear an ankle-length coat while shorter people look best in knee-length coats. Consider a double-breasted or button-up style if you like more room in the chest area.
  • Be sure the coat is well made. Check the seams, zipper or buttons, pockets, lining, and belt for defects. Make sure the seams are sealed so the wind doesn’t cut through your coat. See if the collar stands up around your neck to keep the cold out.
  • Look at the tags to see what the coat is made of. I like wool coats because they’re nice and warm during the winter. Wool is lightweight, durable, and long-lasting. It has natural insulation due to air pockets and is water-resistant. A wool-blend is less costly, but make sure the percentage of wool is high. Nylon is dense and can be a good choice for a winter coat, especially if the coat has a wool or down lining. Polyester won’t stand up to the cold unless it’s combined with other fibers. Also, it doesn’t breathe, so you could get sweaty when you’re indoors shopping or going for a brisk walk.
  • Read the label to see how to care for the coat. Most winter coats are dry clean only, but some are machine washable and dry flat or tumble dry.
  • Don’t sacrifice warmth for style. Popular these days are puffer coats, trench coats, and faux-fur jackets. Camel color, herringbone, and plaid coats have been good choices for years.
  • Check the online coat sales if you can’t find one at a local store. To make sure you’re getting the right size, check the website’s size guide. For women's coats, measure your bust, waist, and hips. For men's coats, measure your inseam, chest, and waist. Read the reviews of the coats, if any are available. If the coat runs small or large, the reviews may offer advice on what size to buy.
  • Find out the return policy, especially if you buy a coat online. As always, keep your receipt in case the coat just doesn’t work out.
Copyright 2019, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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