Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shopping blues

Seriously, how hard can it be to buy a winter coat in February?

Especially when retailers are clearancing out their winter stock with enthusiasm and putting up displays of swimming suits and sandals?

I have been struggling and failing with this issue for the last month and I'm no amateur shopper.

My current wear-it-every-day winter coat is a a lovely periwinkle and navy blue Land's End product with just the right amount of insulation and a quilted nylon lining so when you put your arm in the sleeve, it actually goes in and your hand comes out the other end - not gets stuck and refuses to budge while the sleeve lining develops a lasting relationship with your fleece pullover or wool sweater.

The zipper is also shot, the wrists are frayed and it's been laundered so much I'm pretty sure the insulation has simply ceased to exist in several spots.

I bought this coat five years ago. I remember that vividly because I got it right before flying to Portland to pick up baby Phoenix. Given that the Portland climate is a little milder than Iowa in February, I did not want to show up dressed like Nanook of the North, which is the category my other winter coat falls into. I'm happy to report I've not needed to wear it much this winter since we seem to be having a non-winter here in the Midwest.

This non-winter has found me wearing my non-Nanook jacket clear through January and into February and I've finally accepted the fact that it not going to last much longer. Of course, winter isn't either so maybe I should just give up this coat quest.

Land's End does not make this particular style any more or I'd just order another one. Nothing is ever that simple. I'm going to have to - horrors - change.

Well, I've spent the last month shopping, trying on, rejecting, ordering on line and sending back. Here's the problem - nearly all the coats I've tried are A) lined with fleece that is toasty warm, assuming you can actually get your arms through the sleeves or B) are tailored so snugly you can't fit anything heavier than a T-shirt under them. In the winter, I wear more than a T-shirt. A lot more. The number of layers I wear is probably why I don't need my Nanook of the North coat very often.

So I sized up. That didn't help. The difference between medium and large in women's sizes seems to be mostly in the chest area. This didn't do me any good. I needed room to accommodate heavy sweatshirts, sweaters and vests, not boobs.

I even started trying on men's jackets to get enough room to accommodate the multiple layers I wear through the winter. This solved the room-in-the-shoulders issue but created two new issues: sleeves that hung past my fingertips and annoyingly snug fits around my hips when the jacket was zipped. Not sayin' I have a big butt. Just sayin' women's butts have different curves than guys.

I've just about given up. I placed an order with LL Bean this morning. Naturally, they were having a great clearance sale. Naturally, the color I wanted was not on sale. Go figure.

If that doesn't work, I'll wear my broken-zippered, frayed-cuffs, washed-out coat with pride the rest of the winter. Which hopefully won't be very long.


  1. I feel your pain. I have resorted to men's coats to GET the sleeves long enough and I like that they actually give guys pockets to put "stuff" in (dog cookies, poop bages, you know the drill). But yes, it is a challenge to find ones big enough in the bum!

  2. Whatever you ordered, I hope it's dirt colored!!!

  3. It can be super hard to find a good coat. My biggest problem, with Oregon weather, is finding one that will shed the rain while still breathing, and not making that horrible swishy noise when the fabric rubs together. I did find a great coat on super clearance at JC Penny the other day, though, if you haven't tried them yet.

  4. Did you try looking on ebay for your old LLbean coat? Ive had luck with that when something I like is discontinued. good luck.

  5. Didn't you just clean out coats - a lot of coats? Just saying.....

  6. A couple years ago in desperation I bought a men's zip up jacket from Duluth Trading Co. It's a great jacket - big pockets, washable, durable, dog-paw resistant, somewhat water resistant. But not a pretty coat by any means.