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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!
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