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If you live somewhere that has cold winter seasons, then there’s one item you’re going to wear every day, pretty much without fail, now through March: your winter coat.
It’s the part of your outfit people will notice first, so obviously you want something that represents your style. But first and foremost, your winter coat is a functional piece of clothing, and its main goal is to keep you warm; you want something that actually lives up to that promise.
Like weatherproof boots or your haircut, a winter coat is also something you actually need, so you don’t have to feel bad about investing in one. (If you plan to keep your coat for at least three years and wear it most days between now through March, the cost per wear on a $500 coat is less than $1.) For that reason, we’ve inched up the price range here a little higher than normal. But if you can’t or don’t want to spend that much — or maybe you’re shopping around for a second or third winter coat to have options in your closet — there are plenty of affordable jackets here, too.
I’ve skipped most of the fast-fashion retailers to focus on brands that are a little less expected and of slightly higher quality, but some of the usual suspects are worth a look, too, especially if you’re looking for that second coat. Mango, Topshop, Aritzia, and H&M in particular have some great outerwear this season, and if you go for something like a faux fur, you know it will be warm enough.
No matter what you think you want to spend, Uniqlo should probably be your first stop. The brand’s shockingly affordable ultra-light puffers have a place in any closet; they’re warm enough to be the main event but are thin enough to make a great under-layer, too. The brand makes everything from “coatigans” (sorry) to tech-y parkas, and thanks to collabs with brands like JW Anderson and creative direction from Christophe Lemaire on Uniqlo U, there are plenty of fashion-y options, too — all for less than $200.
Canadian brand Oak + Fort has dozens of options, from oversized blazers and bombers to camel robe coats. The brand is particularly great for those ’80s-but-2017 dusters and extra-long woolen coats, like this minimal single-button camel coat with a shawl lapel ($188) or this fitted double-breasted midi coat ($168). Head here if you want something super on-trend (while still classic!) but don’t want to spend more than $200.
Another affordable Canadian brand (despite the similarity in name, they aren’t related), Frank + Oak has a few super-basic but versatile fall and winter coats, including this double-breasted military cocoon coat ($199), a water-resistant puffer ($169), and a cozy fishtail parka with Thinsulate for extra warmth ($219).
J.Crew still offers those bright, pastel, and jewel-colored woolen coats in classic cuts (like the Lady Day Coat for $350) that it’s been making for decades, and somehow they still look fresh. This year you’ll also find some trendier faux-fur options, like the textured teddy coat ($178), as well as a few solid winter parkas ($298), including one in millennial pink ($268). Prices generally run between $200 and $400, but in the sale section, you can score winter jackets starting at $50.
Scandinavians really have outerwear down. Swedish brand Fillipa K is one of the best (and one of the few that ships to the US); think simple woolen cocoon coats in pastels, really modern peacoats, and tailored, double-breasted overcoats in shappy New Zealand wool. This is the place to look if you want an Acne coat but would rather drop around $500 than over a G.
Eileen Fisher is a solid (and sustainable!) option for all sizes, from petites to plus. While a few of the brand’s pieces can edge into mom territory, there are several chic, minimalist options, from this alpaca wool notch collar coat ($648) to a recycled nylon hooded parka ($448).
While this brand is probably best known for its dreamy leather jackets, The Arrivals makes several other options, including chic puffers ($395), parkas ($695), and a great modular woolen coat with a removable shearling collar ($595). Prices are obviously on the higher end, but so is the quality. Plus, you’ll look very cool in any of these coats, promise.
This Danish brand has a bunch of very cute coats in different styles, from cropped puffers ($340) to extra-long plaid woolen coats ($620). The label’s website doesn’t ship to the US, but you can find its stuff everywhere from Need Supply to Shopbop to Net-a-Porter; you might have to browse around to find the full line in your size.
Don’t forget about ASOS. For starters, ASOS Curve and the rest of the retailer’s plus options are great, and the site’s return and shipping policies are pretty ideal for buying an important piece of clothing sight-unseen. But more importantly, it’s the only way you can shop fast fashion brands like Monki, Weekday, and New Look in the US, and they all have great outerwear.
In any budget over $100, Nordstrom is one of the best multi-brand retailers to browse for outerwear. You can shop J.Crew and Everlane alongside Diane von Furstenberg, Acne, and Canada Goose (all brands that make amazing coats). The filters keep it from getting too overwhelming; extended sizing options are extensive, including plus, petites, and maternity; the return policy is pretty decent; and the sale prices are great.