Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
I’ve been searching for years for a leopard print coat that’s classy, streamlined, and modern, but all I ever seem to find are tacky, wild, and bulky options. I don’t want to look like I skinned a cat; I just want a car coat-type garment that makes skinny jeans and boots look exciting. And I’ve struggled to find something that isn’t outrageously priced — ideally less than $200. Any suggestions? —Lindsay, 33, Brooklyn
Sounds like you want to stay away from anything overly bulky or cartoonish (don’t blame you!), which knocks out a lot of the cheaper options. It might mean you should just totally stay away from faux fur altogether, but there are a few I think you should consider.
This coat from Avec Les Filles ($195) is the very first one that came to mind, and after scouring the internet, I still think it deserves a place in the running. This one from Express is pretty cute and on sale for $194.60 (from $278), but it’s a little more pea coat than car coat. I also really like this Calvin Klein faux fur number for $169, which seems like a good deal at Dillard’s because similar CK styles are almost $300 elsewhere.
If those are still feeling too tacky for you, try looking for leopard printed on wool (or a wool blend) so you eliminate the bulk — and some of the vamp — while still actually staying warm. This wool leopard print coat from Urban Outfitters is pretty great at $129, but sizes are selling out fast. I also like this one from Topshop, which is long and sleek and has a black collar ($170). And this one by Vigoss is only $89. Maybe your best bet: this wool coat by Halogen, which comes in petite, regular, and plus. It’s a car coat silhouette and comes in just under budget at $199 (it’s $219 for plus-sizes — sorry, and yes, I think that’s bullshit).
But given the style, cut, and price you’re after, I think you should definitely check out vintage before pulling the trigger on one of the coats above. A lot of faux leopard coats from the ’60s and ’70s are made on shorter, flat faux-hair coats made to mimic pony hair rather than the plush, teddy bear thing that’s everywhere today.
eBay and Etsy are the obvious first stops, and both have a ton of options. I don’t know your size and many of these are on timed auction, so it’s hard to pick one-of-a-kind specifics, but just to show the kind of thing you can find: I really love this ’60s coat that’s currently $39 on eBay, and here’s another cute mod one for $125. This car coat listed for $200 on Etsy is the exact same one I own (not kidding!), and ASOS Marketplace, which is sort of like the retailer’s take on Etsy and features only indie sellers, has a bunch of vintage options, too.
One way to rule out the “will it fit?” problem of buying secondhand online is to go for a contemporary brand that you’ve purchased from before, or one that has standard sizing, rather than true vintage. There are a few secondhand designer leopard coats within your budget on The RealReal; my favorite is this Thakoon coat for $195. Etsy and eBay have you covered here, too: this used Topshop coat is currently listed for just $15 on eBay.
Since you live in New York, there are several vintage and secondhand stores you can scope IRL, too. The L Train vintage stores will have some of the cheapest options; I found the one I mentioned above years ago at L Train Vintage’s Urban Jungle in Bushwick for $30. (If you do go to Bushwick: Make sure you check out the new L Train spot on 106 Thames Street, around the corner from Urban Jungle, as well as the new Dobbin St. Outpost on Flushing Avenue. You could easily hit those three, plus a few others, in one Saturday afternoon.) Stella Dallas in Williamsburg will be pricier, but I recommend checking its selection out, too; it’ll likely have a few super-cute ones.
For smaller vintage boutiques, like Edith Machinist in the Lower East Side or Awoke Vintage in Greenpoint, I recommend calling ahead and asking before you just head over. Good luck, and let us know which one you choose!
Did we miss anything? Do you have any other suggestions, or questions of your own? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or share your own picks/ask your own question in the Racked Lounge, our Facebook group for shopping advice! We might feature your question in a future newsletter.