With fall on its way, it’s time for people in certain parts of the country to break out cold-weather attire. In with the mittens, scarves, hats, jackets and coats we use to stay warm.
But what if you need a new fall coat or winter jacket? In that case, a little planning can go a long way to help you find a flattering and affordable jacket. If you don’t want to buy a new coat again next year, consider these tips.
Plan to spend some money
When it comes to winter attire, you can usually get a coat that’s either high quality or affordable — but not both. Fast fashions from your local department store may look nice now, but they tend to fall apart in a short time.
Think of the last jacket you picked up from a department store. You may have scored 30% off and bagged a deal, but did your coat last more than a few years? Probably not.
That’s why you shouldn’t pinch pennies when it comes to clothing, especially on items you wear daily, said family finance expert Catherine Alford of the CouponChief blog. Cheap jackets aren’t meant to last long, so you wind up replacing them over and over again.
"Winter jackets are one of those items that's worth paying more for quality,” she said.
To wind up with a solid deal, shell out money for a coat that’s well-made, Alford said. Also search companies that offer warranties. For example, Patagonia will repair any coat as part of their “Ironclad Guarantee.”
“That means you can buy a coat that can last 20 to 30 years because the company will keep repairing it either for free or for a small reasonable cost depending on what it is,” said Alford.
Other companies that offer better-than-average guarantees on fall and winter jackets include The North Face and Land’s End.
Check out consignment stores
You can invest some money up-front to purchase a new, high-quality jacket, but you could get a better deal if you buy used. Consignment stores are a treasure trove when it comes to finding name-brand clothing, including jackets and coats, manufactured with high-quality standards for a fraction of the price.
If you don’t want to spend your time digging through racks of clothing, you can also check out online consignment stores. Poshmark and ThredUp offer barely worn fall jackets and coats for up to 70% off retail price.
Buy up a size
Whether you invest in a new, high-quality fall jacket or find a used one in a resale shop, it almost always makes sense to buy one slightly bigger than you need. Fall layering is always on trend, and you may want to wear a sweater, shawl or scarf under your jacket or coat. Plus, you never know if you’ll pack on winter weight.
At least make sure your fall jacket is not overly fitted so you have room to layer and style your outfit.
Avoid trendy colors or styles
Styles change from one year to the next. Fashion trends, like Juicy Couture tracksuits, shoulder pads, ultra-bright colors and fur, come and go.
If you want a fall jacket that lasts, skip short-lived fashion and focus on classic looks. Choose styles that were around decades ago but still look polished today, along with colors that won’t scream “dated” a few years from now — for example, faux leather jackets with classic lines in black or tan, basic trench coats or an anorak.
Basically, anything “hip” should be out — no matter what the fashion magazines say. Because clothing manufacturers hope to sell you a new coat every year, they change what’s “in” and what’s “out” at the drop of a hat. The only way to win that game is not to play.
If you’re searching for a fall jacket that will stand the test of time, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Fortunately, you may be able to find a look that works — at a price you can afford — if you do some leg work and don’t fall for what’s on sale or what’s trending this year.
Image: Ladislav Kubeš