Coats are supposed to be investment pieces. Barring fast-fashion polyester kindling, outerwear is more expensive because such closet staples are supposed to be built to last. You're also spot cleaning instead of constantly washing them, and most are less likely to go out of style. That being said, if you buy coats out of season (recommended!) or from a designer you like from a past season (smart!), you're going to save money. However when the temperature drops and you suddenly realize your old coat isn't cutting it, time is more of the essence than saving a few bucks. You're not a martyr.
If you're in desperate emotional and physical need of a coat, one of the more timely and cost effective options is to go into a discounted department store like T.J. Maxx from the TJX Companies Inc. (TJX) that are chock full of overstock from past seasons. However, in today's somewhat bleak retail environment, stacked sales and clearance promotions from the brands themselves can be the same price or cheaper. Or so I thought.
I popped into the Wall Street T.J. Maxx to check out examples of coats that have a pretty prevalent brand presence and would be easier to find on the brand's website (if they still carried it) or on resale sites. The Wall Street T.J. Maxx is a tad more upscale than any other T.J. Maxx and Marshall's stores I've graced with my presence, but that's not saying a lot. Here are four women's and four men's coats I found that I thought were of note.Kate Spade Daphne Coat
I remember seeing this on fashion bloggers maybe a year or two ago. I hate Kate Spade with the fire of a thousand suns, but this coat has a classic shape and some semblance of nicer fabrics. It was refreshing to see T.J. Maxx using the sale MSRP rather than the full retail price, and $149 isn't terrible. It was sold out on Kate Spade and other higher end e-comm platforms, but still available on resale sites Poshmark and eBay. In this case, T.J. Maxx is your best bet.
Men's Patagonia Nano Puff Hybrid Jacket
Patagucci, Fratagonia... however you refer to the popular sporting brand, Patagonia is great not only in quality but customer service. Like L.L. Bean, the company will take anything back without question and give you the full refund. For example, an ex destroyed his coat sleeve skiing and wore it around like an upper east side hobo until I convinced him to exchange it at the store — for the full price from which he purchased it two years ago. But anyway. I stumbled upon the Men's Nano Puff Hybrid Jacket which happens to **gasp** still be on the Patagonia website.
Once again it appears that T.J. Maxx is your best bet, beating $134 on the Patagonia site and $161.40 on Equipe Sport. Who knew?
Women's Lauren Ralph Lauren Belted Leather Jacket
In the women's section, there's a decent array of leather jackets. Considering the usual price of a leather jacket, neither the starting or demonstrated sale price on this particular RL piece was horrible, and I was unable to find this specific one on other sites. Ralph Lauren is a beast when it comes to different levels of style and luxury, and Lauren Ralph Lauren is a lower, albeit not the lowest, tier.
On the RL website I was able to find a Polo RL leather jacket (a tier above LRL) but nothing in the LRL level. Makes sense, why add a similar style at a lower price point?
On the Lord and Taylor website I found a LRL leather jacket, and it was the same price at Bloomingdale's but cheaper at Macy's (go figure).
And I managed to find a RL Collection (one of the very highest tiers — it's the company's runway collection) jacket on eBay.
I personally think the Collection jacket is the best deal but I'm also fine with secondhand and like everything else, your jacket ultimately comes down to personal preference.
Men's Tumi Neo Stretch Blazer Jacket
The jacket was nowhere to be found on the Tumi website, but it was still available on Amazon for $294.
And on Lyst, it said the same jacket was sold out at Saks to the tune of $595. Once again, T.J. Maxx has destroyed the price competition.
Elle Tahari Perforated Suede Coat
The Elle Tahari suede car coat was found front and center in "The Runway" section of T.J. Maxx, the store's elevated offering for more luxury-driven shoppers. More lux brands are strewn willy-nilly throughout the store, but this is a concentrated effort on steering you toward higher priced wares. And as you can see from my nail polish color, I'm all about deep greens for fall.
I could not find anything like this ANYWHERE — but for a more material comparison, here's a suede jacket from the Elie Tahari website...
...and a significantly cheaper Eli Tahari suede jacket found on eBay.
For a less visual comparison, I own a pretty identical perforated suede coat that I snagged at a Raoul sample sale a few years ago for $50. It seems like this particular jacket wasn't very popular but T.J. Maxx purchased it in the assortment anyway.
Tommy Hilfiger Faux-Sherpa Collar Faux-Leather Bomber Jacket
Behold, the cheap version of a bomber jacket from Tommy Hilfiger. If you're looking for more of what Maverick rocked in "Top Gun," feel free to shell out a few grand at Ralph Lauren or Brooks Brothers.
It's $69.99 (niiiiiiice) at T.J. Maxx and currently $109 at Macy's.
Macy's offers extra stackable coupon codes, so it would be cheaper, but once again T.J. Maxx has won the price war. On eBay, there's a leather version for around $150, if you didn't want to go the vegan leather route. But that's up to your closet and conscience.
All in all, I was honestly and utterly shocked how T.J. Maxx stacked up against the competition. Among the brands themselves, other retailers and even eBay, it consistently had a lower price.
The one issue? Finding the style you like in your size. If you're fine with spending more IRL time rifling through a hit or miss assortment of jackets, then T.J. Maxx or Marshall's seems like your best bet.