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Coats are expensive. Ethical coats even more so.
Which is why 80% of my coats were purchased secondhand for under $30. There’s no shame in that. In fact, it’s a really pragmatic choice not just because of price point, but because there is an overabundance of beautiful, natural fiber coats on the secondhand market. I picked up a couple extras this season just because they came into the shop where I work and were too good to pass up (that may be one of the reasons our point of sale software named me the best customer of 2017! Oops).
The current “ethical influencer” space is populated by looks featuring all new goods, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But I think it can imply that to be an “ethical person” you have to have new things. Not only is this untrue, it inadvertently locks people out of pursuing this lifestyle due to price, size, and accessibility limitations. I need to remind myself of this as much as anyone else. I am always, always tempted to buy every new, beautiful thing. But the things I love and wear often are often secondhand.
Without further ado, my 5 Beautiful, Mostly Secondhand Coats
Ethical Details: Coat – Thrifted; Scarf,
This thrifted coat by Herman Kay is just fun. The shell is a wool/nylon blend, which keeps me warm in 35-45 degree weather and the red cuffs and accents make me happy. After reading this post about the benefits of owning a silly winter coat, I decided to throw caution to the wind. Why should outerwear be as dreary as the weather?
A note: I intentionally purchase coats slightly bigger than I need so that I have ample room for sweaters and general coziness. This also gives me for flexibility when searching for items at thrift stores, because I can expand the hunt to a range of sizes.
The newest addition to the cozy coat family, this Pendleton wool coat reminded me of Everlane’s new cocoon coat, except it’s (presumably) much better quality. The shell is thick, 100% wool that’s soft and smooth to the touch. It’s actually probably two sizes too large – and the sleeves are a bit long – but I like the way it drapes as a result.
I’ve been meaning to put together a post on how the best way to shop for Everlane dupes is to shop vintage. I mean, this coat has almost the same lines as Everlane’s coat, except it’s more practical and luxurious. Plus, I only paid $30 for it.
The OG coat in the bunch, this was one of those thrift shop miracles. I went thrift shopping with my mom at Valley Thrift in Ohio (I LOVE that place) a couple years ago on the hunt for a navy toggle coat. And there it was! This one has a 100% wool shell and 90% wool lining, so it’s quite warm. I would say the wool quality is inferior to the Pendleton coat, but that’s to be expected.
I used Christmas money to buy this coat at a cute consignment shop in downtown Charleston, West Virginia (you should visit!). It’s lighter weight than other coats in my collection, but it’s flannel lined, so I find it perfect for late fall and early spring. Even though this was originally from Target, I’ve had it for two years and the quality is great. (I also have fond memories wearing it to the Women’s March in 2017).
Last but not least, the one new item in my coat wardrobe. Everlane sent this to me for review last fall and it’s a workhorse for snow days and super cold winter days since it’s water resistant and extremely cozy. This year they released a recycled poly version.
What To Look For When Buying Winter Coats Secondhand
❅ Stick to naturally derived fibers like cotton, wool, and other animal fibers for greatest warmth and quality (acrylics and nylons DO NOT cut it in truly cold weather – since you’re buying secondhand, you won’t contribute to demand for new, animal-derived textiles) OR technical poly-fill like Primaloft.
❅ Check for moth holes, stains, tears, and other condition issues. Do a sniff test to make sure there isn’t serious mold or smoke contamination.
❅ Go in with a plan. Do some online window shopping at stores you like to narrow down the cuts, colors, and styles you’re attracted to.
❅ Be flexible when shopping at physical stores. Try on multiple sizes and give items that look boring on the hanger a chance. Sometimes things look magical on.
❅ Make sure you can layer sweaters and scarves under it.
❅ Create a flexible budget and stick to it.
❅ Have fun!