From the Mailbag: Surviving Winter on a Grad School Budget
I recently moved from Charleston South Carolina to the midwest (Indiana) for grad school. The move has left me woefully unprepared for the coming winter, and the cost of school isn’t helping either. I’ve got boots for the snow, but I need a coat, winter hat, and some gloves that will keep me decently warm and still look good. Any suggestions? I liked a lot of the coats in the outerwear post, but even the cheaper options were out of my price range.
A few emails like this have come in over the past few days. Like shoes, a good coat is a great thing to invest in. But we’ve all been at a point in our lives where we just don’t have the funds to do so. Here’s one setup (with slightly upgraded alternatives) that’ll keep Nick from freezing to death, all while allowing him to make payments on his tuition:
Both of these are wool mix, with the Old Navy being 40% recycled wool and the Express being 60%. The higher the wool percentage the better, but for $65, the Old Navy should be about as good as you’ll find. Haven’t seen either of these in person, yet… and they seem to have limited stock in stores. Both ship free and return free in-store. *You’ll need these codes: ONAUTUMN (30% off O.N., Exp. 10/20) and 1866 ($50 off $150 at Express). The Express coat is a potential steal since it’s a code stacked on top of a 30% off outerwear sale. Thanks to Sean F. for the style tip there.
The Scarf: Moon of England British Lambswool Scarf – $14.96 ($54.00)
If these were on J. Crew’s site, the description would probably read something like this:
“Made by the legendary British Moon Mills, (they’ve been weaving some of the most hearty and luxurious fabrics in Yorkshire since 1837) these pure lambswool scarves will keep the chill at bay in a most particular dapper and natty fashion. Was $54, now on sale for $53.00, free shipping at $125″
Just kidding Frank. But they’re not sold by J. Crew. Instead they’re on Sierra Trading Post. Average review is 4.5 out of 5 stars. Made in northern England and comes in a dozen color/pattern options. UPDATE: Use HDW11 for $2.95 ground shipping. Puts the scarf at $17.91 shipped. ALPUMPKIN1 and OUTSIDEMAG get you 20% off, which with shipping ends up one penny more expensive than HDW11. Credit to eburke, Jason, and BenR for the codes.
The Gloves: Jacob Ash – $12.77* ($36) | Johnston & Murphy Sheepskin – $69.99 ($98)
A lined leather glove is easy enough to dress up and they’ll still keep your hands relatively warm. Both of these come with a snap strap detail at the wrist, which keeps them from getting boring. The Jacob Ash pair are already cheap at $36, but Sierra Trading Post knocks them down to under $16.00 before shipping, *and the best code to use is the ALPUMPKIN1 20% off (or OUTSIDEMAG, same discount). Ends up at $18.72 shipped.
The Hat: Cashmere Ribbed Knit Hat – $36.00 ($100)
You can find a cotton or acrylic hat for much cheaper, but a wet head means a cold body. Cashmere at this price is a pretty good investment, since the fibers are strong and warm. Better to have winter hat hair than frost bitten ears. A bit of contrast isn’t a bad play here either. Part of LastCall.com’s extra 40% off sale which is set to end today. UPDATE: Use the code FSANN3 for free shipping. Credit Mike for the code.
Cheapest Final Total: $132.72
Upgraded Final Total: $265.40
Going cheaper would require a trip to the thrift store, which ain’t a half bad idea. Good luck to Nick and everyone else on a shoe-string budget this winter. And remember, Ramen always tastes better when it’s below freezing outside.