How Much Money Should You Actually Be Investing In A Winter Coat?

Winter coats are investments, but how much do you actually need to pay to protect yourself from the elements?
Posted at 10:49 AM, Jan 31, 2019

In places like Chicago, where temperatures felt as low as -40 degrees with the wind chill, police are reporting a slew of robberies targeting something you might not expect: winter coats. ["One high-end brand has armed bandits stealing coats..."] ["...three times during the morning rush today."] ["...but last night, it happened again."]

The specific coats in question are by Canada Goose — a company whose products average around $950 and never go on sale. The brand regularly outfits celebrities and winter sport athletes, but for regular people braving harsh winters, are high-end coats actually worth the investment? 

Before we get into the answer, let's talk about the mindset of seeing clothes as an investment.Bloomingdale's former Women's Fashion Director told Racked in 2016, "your coat is sort of like your car," and a writer for the Canadian women's magazine Chatelaine broke it down like this: Instead of seeing a $340 winter coat for its total price, think of it as a daily expense. If you wear the coat 150 times during the winter, it's about 2 dollars a wear; and if you keep it for five years, the expense drops to 45 cents.That logic works the same way for luxury brands like Canada Goose, but as warm as they may be, another expert told Racked: "It's shocking to see a $1,000 price tag for a jacket when a nice Patagonia jacket is just as functional."

While researching for this story, I asked people on Twiter how much they typically spend on winter coats. Many of them said they spend between $100 and $300, which happens to be the average price of winter coats at places like Columbia, Uniqlo, L.L. Bean, Dick's Sporting Goods and REI. Prices differ between men and women, but for the stores I looked at, coats for men seem to be more expensive on average.

Experts told ABC News that factors like higher quality insulation, durability and, yes, fashion trends can affect prices. Because of that, it's better to look at a winter coat almost like a piece of technology, rather than a piece of clothing. If the average prices still sound like too much, shoppers can alleviate costs by shopping at thrift stores or taking advantage of sales. Market analysts say the best time to buy winter coats is after December, because by that time, stores are clearing out their inventories for spring. 

With all of this in mind, it's up to shoppers to decide how much they're able to invest into a winter coat.Luxury brands like Canada Goose may be warm, but they aren't necessarily the best brand for people on budgets. Chicago law enforcement will probably agree, and until the city's coat robbers are caught, police are telling people to "maybe wear a different coat."

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story said the standing temperature was -40 degrees. It's been updated to specify wind chill instead.