Wednesday, October 26, 2016


{ My most treasured sample sale score from 2014—a fuzzy blue coat from Tibi }

People—you know fashion people—talk a big game about things that are "investment-worthy." On many occasions, I have been one of those fashion people, waxing philosophic about why you should feel great about spending a grand on a pair of boots or a designer bag. (I used to work for a luxury site, give me a break!) And really, if your budget supports it, I could certainly still direct you to some very expensive shoes and accessories that are *truly* worth that kind of money.

Alas here I am, hustling and happy as a freelancer, and shopping accordingly. The lack of a consistent salary necessitated a complete overhaul of my spending habits over the past year. I haven't quite mastered it just yet, but I'm getting there. Aside from travel expenses (try having your parents relocate to a remote ski town in Idaho, I dare ya!), the biggest fashion purchase I made last year was on a coat. This coat.

I know, I seem to go on and on about this coat both here and on social media like every other day. The thing is, this coat has changed my life. I always talked about how I wanted a classic overcoat, and I had some whimsical visions of myself feeling like a different person—if only I had a really great coat. Well, I got a really great coat and I do feel like a different person. No matter what is underneath it, when I wear that coat I feel polished. I feel mature. I feel understood by the other women on the street who are wearing a really great coat. I feel like I actually look like the stylish person I think I am in my head. (Send anyone you know who doesn't believe fashion has transformative powers my way...)

As I retrieved said really great coat from the dry cleaners last week—getting it spruced up for the season ahead—I started wondering if there were any other things I owned that made me feel as totally wonderful as this coat. There are, and wouldn't you know it, they are also coats. I felt compelled to write a bit more about this because I know that a lot of you reading this might be in the same financial spectrum, wondering which items in your digital shopping cart (or actual cart, I wouldn't presume to know) will truly be worth the investment, and show a cost-per-wear that makes you feel empowered instead of remorseful.



Current Cost-Per-Wear Estimate: About $10

It's been about a year now since I purchased the above camel overcoat from Club Monaco. As I mentioned, I've found this jacket to be the most wonderfully cool and versatile cold weather piece I own, hands down. It's perfect over shirts and thin blouses in the fall, and then layers easily over warm knits and sweatshirts in the winter. With a big scarf and a hat, I hardly needed to wear my down coat at all last winter, which was kind a great relief. I imagine that I must not be alone in my adoration of this coat, since Club Monaco has restocked it again this year!

The key to not wasting your investment in a longline coat like this is to pay close attention to the fabric content. My camel coat is 80 percent wool, which ensures that it is actually warm, and of a premium quality. Everlane's brand new (seriously cool) belted coat is 100 percent wool and less than $275—which has put it at the top of my investment-worthy shopping list this season. A close second is J. Crew's double-breasted navy coat that's a wool and cashmere blend and under $400. I love that military-inspired style, and think either of those would close the gap in my winter coat wardrobe, since I'd have one light option and one dark.


Current Cost-Per-Wear Estimate: About $3

Okay so I've been very open about this in the past here on the blog, but this Schott 'Perfecto' leather jacket was actually a Christmas present from my parents about five years ago. So while I didn't personally sink a heavy amount of cash into this piece, I know that I would have eventually, had my dad not beat me to the punch. The thing is, I've had no need to invest in another one because this one is so perfect. (Maybe why it's called the Perfecto, no?)

The more I wear this jacket, letting the leather soften, the creases deepen—the better it looks. Genuine, high-quality leather does that. I know plenty of people who have multiple faux-leather jackets they really like, but I bet if you combined all the money spent on those, you'd have more than enough to invest in a really good one. (But no one knows better than me that sometimes you just need a fix and can't round up $500 in the blink of an eye.) I like the look of Madewell's ultimate leather biker jacket, but the truth is it (and most other biker jackets out there) are directly inspired from the original Schott Perfecto—worn by James Dean and the gang way back when. Do with that information what you will, since I would imagine many of these other jackets might have a more feminine cut.


Current Cost-Per-Wear Estimate: About $15

Back in high school my taste was preppy, preppy preppy. I wore cable knit sweaters, polos and ribbon belts pretty much everyday. I mostly blame Abercrombie & Fitch for that (and I know I'm not alone, fellow late 20s and early 30s peeps out there)—but I also just happen to deeply identify with that polished, even slightly British vibe when it comes to dressing. Even though my style has definitely skewed more eclectic as an adult, I still love some of those timeless preppy pieces, like riding boots, cable knits and waxed cotton and canvas jackets.

Since last winter was so incredibly mild, I ended up wearing the above quilted Barbour jacket from October well into January, before winter storm Jonas hit and we finally had some seasonally appropriate weather—and then again in the early spring. The good news here is that classic prepster outfitters like L.L. Bean and Eddie Bauer have similar style jackets at about half the cost (or less) of a Barbour 'Beadnell' jacket, and they don't skimp on quality. These jackets are truly useful on rainy days (why the 'waxed' element is so key), but are also just the thing you'll want to wear for apple picking, Central Park strolling and other #Falliday activities.

Photos by Meghan Donovan and Bekka Palmer

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