But despite the general loveliness of a good snow fall, New York winters can be harsh. The buildings create wind tunnels that make you feel like your face might soon fall off. The intersections become booby traps of icy slurry. Everything’s coated in a layer of thick white salt. It takes roughly twice as long to accomplish anything because leaving the house means needing to stop for a quick cup of hot chocolate to warm up again. Only me?
You end up practically living in your coat in New York in the wintertime and you need a properly warm wintry one to get through it. Something that prevents you from feeling every single harsh wintry wind. And hopefully something to make you feel like you’re still a person underneath all of that wool or down or [insert branded name for warm “technology”]. But finding the one is a challenge.
For my own part, I feel like I’ve been on a good ten-year-long hunt for the perfect winter coat. There’s no particularly good reason that I haven’t found a winter coat to really love in the past decade or so. Just the usual reasons: making purchases of any kind between the ages of 18-24; making purchases while pregnant; making purchases while desperate; making purchases while cold.
In graduate school, I broke down and bought a full-length puffer jacket. We’d just moved back to the Northeast from North Carolina. Instead of celebrating Valentine’s day amidst blossoming camellias in Wilmington, we were slip sliding our way down Providence’s iced-over sidewalks. I needed a sleeping bag that I could walk in. So, I caved and bought one like this one. Five years later it’s still keeping me warm, but it’s lost all of the loft in the bum, and the arms have developed a shiny sheen from years of rub and wear. Maybe most important of all, while it’s quite warm, it’s not terribly humanizing. It’s not a coat to put on and feel beautiful in. It’s a coat for feeling frumpy in. Did I mention that New York City winters are harsh?
To balance out the walking sleeping bag effect, I also have a black wool bell coat that I bought at Muji while I was pregnant last winter and in need of something that I didn’t have to stuff myself into. Even then, and especially now, it’s comically large. It doesn’t have much in the way of a lining, but it works in a pinch when I don’t want to look like a female version of the Michelin man. I’d call it serviceable.
So, here’s a little report to say that I’m sitting tight and doing my best to be sure that I make my next coat purchase really count. While I’ll probably keep my puffer around for blizzards and sledding, I want my next coat to be one that would work as well on a casual weekend as it would to a dinner out someplace a little it special. Mostly, I want it to be coat to feel good in. To be a coat to actually enjoy wearing rather than simply enduring. One that I’ll still want to wear in a year, or five, or ten. A tall order, definitely. But even more than most pieces in a wardrobe, a good winter coat seems like something worth giving a little extra attention.
So, I’m taking notes on the subway. Craning my neck to see if I can make out a brand name on a zipper pull. Putting out feelers for a sustainably made masterpiece to call my own. While it seems like everyone in my path is braving the elements in one of these, I’m not convinced that going the Sir Edmund Hillary route is what I need. What winter coats are keeping you guys warm and happy this winter?
A few things on my radar:
If I were to reinvest in a new puffer, I’d probably go with these guys. They set the bar for ethical down production and sustainability super high (and they’re currently holding a 50% off sale). This one looks good for adventuring.
A poncho has to be about the loveliest option for feeling radiant, but I’m afraid it might make most sense for a winter that comes with camellias.
Long and lean in black?
Silvery wool? So pretty. Maybe not precisely arctic blast material.
This peacoat, if only it were longer.
More minimalist wardrobe posts, HERE.