No matter what style you gravitate to, there’s no denying that a good winter coat is a necessity in cold climates.
“In Canada, you spend six to nine months of the year in your coats so it’s the one thing people will see you wear most often,” says Tyler Franch, fashion director at Hudson’s Bay in Toronto. “Prioritize a great coat within your shopping budget and it will serve you well.”
In other words, it makes sense to spend a bit more to score a quality piece. After all, as Franch explains, a quality wool coat should last a lifetime, while you can expect a good-quality parka to last three to five years.
Need more convincing to pay for quality? Run the numbers.
For example, say you shell out $553 for an Italian recycled wool peacoat from Everlane. (And that’s assuming you pay full price—Everlane has been having more and more sales lately.) It’s a classic coat with slim lines that's guaranteed to keep you warm. As your new piece of go-to piece of outerwear, you could don it 150 times between November and April. That’s less than $4 per wear for the first year. Not bad, right?
Now let’s assume you’ll own the coat for five years. The cost-per-wear now? A measly 74 cents.
While $553 might seem like a large chunk of what the average Canadian family spends on clothing per year–$2,303, according to Statistics Canada–if you choose wisely, you won't be shopping for a winter coat every year. So, how much should you spend on a winter coat?
Here are a few things to keep in mind when rummaging through racks or perusing online sales.
There are some telltale signs that the jacket you’re considering is a quality garment, not a piece of throwaway fashion, says Franch. For everyday coats, look for dual zippers that can be opened in opposite directions (they give you more comfort when you sit), as well as a removable hood that allows you to clean the coat without ruining the trim, if there is one. Pockets should be easily accessible and deep enough so that keys and phones don’t tumble out every time you sit down.
Plan to walk at night? Look for a casual jacket with reflective tape that makes you visible to vehicles. And consider the coat's percentage of down stuffing—the higher the percentage, the warmer the coat. For a cruelty-free option, synthetic blends made from recycled materials have come a long way and are often just as warm as down.
For dressier coats, wool, cashmere and alpaca are both luxurious and warm, but don’t forget to read labels closely. “Be mindful of coats advertised as wool when they have only a small amount of wool blended with synthetics,” cautions Franch, nothing that a blend won't offer as much warmth.
A timeless cut or shape will seem fresh longer when compared to a trend-forward coat that quickly goes out of style. For a style you'll want to wear for years to come, opt for an iconic peacoat or boiled wool topcoat that hits just above the knee.
There’s still a place for inexpensive finds from time to time, explains Franch.“Inexpensive options are also a great way to test out a new trend before investing,” he says. Not sure you want to invest in a puffer? Franch loves packable down puffers which can be found for less than $80, like Uniqlo’s ultra-light compact down jacket.
While winter jackets start lining the racks as early as July, you’ll most likely be paying full price for those new arrivals. Instead, decide in advance what kind of coat you’re looking for and keep an eye for your desired style in December, when stores need to start clearing space for spring clothing. That’s when you’ll see those prices drop.
“It’s important to know that great fashion gets noticed and sells out early,” says Franch. If there’s a classic, well-crafted coat you know you’ll wear for years, you might want to run your own cost-per-wear calculations and buy it anyway.
“A great coat should last, so it’s important to take that into consideration when determining the threshold for the price.”
One of our editors wore a North Face parka for years and years; this slim-fit one is available in both standard and plus sizes and gets raves for its warmth *and* style. We also love the subtler-than-usual logo, removable hood and high collar that make it a good coat for multiple personal styles.
Everlane is our digital deputy editor's go-to for durable clothing that won't go out of style. We also love Everlane for its commitment to sustainability—this jacket is made of recycled wool, which the company says lowers its raw material carbon emissions by 90 percent compared to virgin wool.
Its heathered black colour is both classic (and not to sound like *a mom,* but it won't show the dirt) and a bit more flattering than straight-up black.
A good friend of Chatelaine has had this coat for a few years now and says it's "very, very warm." It's quite stylish and roomy enough to fit several layers underneath. It's filled with Primaloft—a less expensive, synthetic alternative to down that does a better job at keeping you warm in wet conditions—and has a toasty fleece lining in the hood and pockets (of which there are plenty).
Inject a bit of colour into dreary winter days with this sleek, lightweight, well-priced parka from Simons. The large hood promises a hit of style that will also protect you from inclement weather.
On a freezing day when you wish you stayed in bed, long puffer coats like this one are the next best thing. This Columbia option, available at Penningtons, is especially well-priced.
This won't be warm enough for heavy-duty winter weather, but it's great for warmer days. We also love wearing this under a wool coat to add warmth or alone for outdoor winter running.
Our style and beauty editor owns and loves this coat, which is the perfect blend of classic and modern fit with a loose, just-shrugged-this-on cool-girl appeal. Double-breasted coats like this will never go out of style, and navy is an excellent, flattering hue. A vegan chamois interlining makes this Canadian-winter friendly, too.
The good news about coats is that because their style is relatively classic, you can find lightly used versions at a wallet-friendly price (and buying used is also planet-friendly) at places like Poshmark and Value Village.
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