Thrifting 101: Thrifting for winter coats


I am not particularly fond of cold weather. Snowy days don't make me yearn for horse-drawn sleigh rides. A chilly bite in the air doesn't encourage me to hum Christmas tunes or crave long hikes through glistening forests in Sorel boots. No, snowy days make me want to burrow deeper into my nest of blankets on the couch and whine about being cold while wistfully recall this year's blistering hot summer of one hundred degree plus temperatures. And cold temperatures make me crave thrifted Nordic print sweaters, flannel shirts and plush cashmere coats like the one above.

Winter is my most favorite season to dress for and my least favorite to shop for. Why? Winter clothes are expensive. The cold, blustery temperatures require not only more accessories, such as scarves and gloves, but serious investment in high-ticket items like boots and coats. Thankfully, thrifting for a winter coat is a great way to both save money and survive winter stylishly. A thrifted, vintage coat not only costs 50-80% less than a brand new version, but is also much more solidly constructed than coats sold in fast fashion stores today. Vintage coats are frequently made from 100% wool or cashmere, as compared to today's polyester blends. They're available in a huge array of styles, from classic 1960's swing coats to 1970's trench coats and 1990's down puffer jackets. And buying secondhand also helps the environment by reducing waste.

Ready to thrift for a winter coat? Here are some helpful tips:

  • Try on before buying: Vintage coats tend to be much more narrow across the shoulders and back than today's versions. It is imperative that you try on a coat before buying. Don't forget to consider what you'll be wearing underneath the coat as well. A thick, chunky sweater will only add more bulk.  
  • Notice sleeve length: Vintage coats often had bracelet-length sleeves, which might prove impractical if you live in an extremely cold climate.
  • Examine the lining: Older coats were often lined in silk, which is especially prone to tears and other damage. The cost of repairing or replacing a lining might be more than what you paid for the coat in the first place. 

Silk lining on a vintage 1960's cashmere coat
  • Check for damage: Examine the coat closely for moth holes, tears, stains, pulls in knit collars and cuffs, missing buttons and damaged zippers, and loose threads along seams. Heavy coats also tend to hold onto odors easily, but most can be removed through dry cleaning.
  • Consider what you need in a coat before purchasing: Do you prefer patch pockets, slanted pockets, inside pockets or no pockets?  Are you looking for wool, cashmere, a wool/polyester blend or Thinsulate lining? Does your coat need a hood? Would you prefer a full-length coat or a shorter, sportier version? All of these demands should be accounted for in your search. Don't settle for anything less than what you're looking for.

    Have you thrifted a winter coat? Share your own tips and advice in the comments!



    11 comments:

    1. Not that this is helpful now, but I thrift my winter wardrobe mostly in the summer. Amazing deals and the selection isn't as picked over.

      This summer I found a beautiful Is**c coat in a brilliant green, perfect condition - with no price tag. I hesitantly took it to the front, convinced that even at a thrift store, it would be out of my price range.

      The harried clerk briefly glanced at it and said, "Five dollars."

      Definitely my favorite thrifting find all year.

      ReplyDelete
    2. Not that this is helpful now, but I thrift my winter wardrobe mostly in the summer. Amazing deals and the selection isn't as picked over.

      This summer I found a beautiful Is**c coat in a brilliant green, perfect condition - with no price tag. I hesitantly took it to the front, convinced that even at a thrift store, it would be out of my price range.

      The harried clerk briefly glanced at it and said, "Five dollars."

      Definitely my favorite thrifting find all year.

      ReplyDelete
    3. Whenever I shop for coats, I tend to be very mindful of how they smell. Sounds weird I know, but I've purchased coats that smell strange and no amount of dry cleaning, hanging out or Febreeze have helped...

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    4. Great post! This year instead of thrifting a coat I took an old coat to my tailor and had him rework it a bit. Now it's more fitted, a bit shorter in length and I've fallen in love with the coat all over again!

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    5. Great guide! I'm going thrifting this weekend while my husband studies, so I'll keep an eye out for coats!

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    6. I love the coat in the picture! Now if only I had thrift stores near where I live...

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    7. don't have much to add because you pretty much hit the main pointers for shopping for them but i love that i always find the best coats at the thrift stores.

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    8. When buying my first winter coat I made the mistake of buying a cheap brand new one. It was a heavyish cotton blend and wasn't really that warm (and because it was cheap it pilled after the first wear). The second one I bought was a lovely wool blend that I bought second hand and it cost me less than the awful cotton one did brand new.

      The best tip I have is to remember that simple things like replacing buttons or adding trim to the collar/pockets can instantly update the look of a coat.

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    9. Just found a burberry trench coat for $40. It's going to be a Christmas gift

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    10. back in high school I found a black velvet swing style coat with silk lining--I wore that thing for YEARS. It was my most favorite of coats....I am sad that it has died.

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    11. I don't mind if the lining is imperfect. If the coat is stunning and the price is right, I go with it!

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