One of the best things about fall and winter is that you get to wear your favorite coat almost every day. A good coat is like a good suit. Put it on and you feel almost invincible. The following options should help most of us get that feeling for a relatively affordable price (some are more affordable than others). Sizes are noted below in any in-person shots. Got a tip on a coat that should have made the list? Send those and any other style tips into firstname.lastname@example.org.
J. Crew Wool Blend Dock Peacoat – $178.80* w/ FAMILY ($298)
Always a favorite, and one of those items J. Crew hasn’t messed with much in the past 10-15 years. Because it’s pretty darn good as it is. 80% wool / 20% Polyamide fabric that has some thickness to it but isn’t overly bulky or stiff. Primaloft insulation adds warmth without getting puffy. Authentic straight fit, because it’s a coat and you’re supposed to be able to layer over thick sweaters, sportcoats, or suit jackets. Also available in gray. Size shown above is a medium on 5’10″/185 and it’s pretty close to perfect.
*Heads up: J. Crew is running a 40% off select code FAMILY through Monday 11/15. But you have to be signed up for their email list/rewards club. Pretty simple stuff. But if you don’t want to do that, code FRIENDS will get you 30% off.
***BEST IN SHOW CASUAL/SMART CASUAL***
Sportcoats used to be outerwear, once worn by tweed-wearing, bog-stomping gents with fancy shotguns draped over their arms. So Spier took that heritage (wearing a sportcoat as outerwear) and updated it with a 21st century water and wind resistant fabric, leaned on the puffer trend of the last decade, and we end up with one of the most dashing “puffers” ever. And it doesn’t even look or feel puffy. This is outerwear. Make no mistake. And it excels in all the metrics a casual or smart casual jacket should. Insulation is courtesy of goose down. Nylon shell. Usually neck “bibs” are a big no, but this one perfectly fills that gap AND it zips out in case you want to skip the neck protection, or use a scarf instead. Fits great. Moves great. Looks great. Navy is already sold out. Still available in black (shown) and olive. Size shown above is a medium on 5’10″/185.
Bit of a legend. I’m pretty sure these are the most popular thing that Huckberry sells. Waxed cotton exterior that wears in and molds to the individual wearer over time. Body and sleeves are fully lined with a soft, striped blanket flannel lining. And they’re made here in the States. Impressive. Full review here if you want it.
In case you want a winter-ready WOOL lining. Sixty bucks more though. Still made in the USA. Ships and returns for free, just like the flannel lined option.
One part shirt-jacket, one part puffer, blended together and made affordable by Old Navy. Not super warm, but a good lighter weight layer for cool to sorta cold days. Would also do well as a layering piece when the temps really drop. Three solid colors to pick from plus the subtle camo shown above. Runs a touch big, like everything else at Old Navy. Size shown above is a medium on 5’10″/185. Currently an extra 30% off at checkout through Wednesday 11/3.
90% wool and 10% cashmere. These are not heavyweight. Or even medium weight. They are lightweight topcoats, which is GREAT for those guys who live in warmer weather climates and love the look of traditional winter outerwear… but would sweat to death in a standard insulated coat. Fabric is nice and soft, but wrinkles easily due to the lack of beef (as shown above… you’ll want to steam it once you get it out of the shipping bag). Also available in black or navy. Size shown is a medium on 5’10″/185.
Nicely soft corduroy, timeless style, and an overall finish that feels upgraded. Old Navy this is not. A size Medium on 5’10″/185lbs was close to perfect on my (the Joe guy’s) frame, but the sleeves taper noticeably from elbow to wrist. That’s great for a lot of guys, but not so great if you’ve got some thickness to your forearms. (So for me it had to go back. Free returns though, which is nice.) Also available in burgundy, although those are close to sold out at post time.
***BEST IN SHOW DRESSED UP***
B.R. consistently does more than a few things well, and one of those things is make dynamite wool and wool blend topcoats. 2021 is no different. This thing is nails. Italian 72% wool, 21% nylon, 7% polyester fabric. Linings are a blend of rayon/poly for the back, rayon/cotton for the front, and poly/cupro for the sleeves. Which is appreciated, since those will breathe better than a stuffy, all poly, cheap lining found on discount topcoats. Herringbone pattern is noticeable, but it’s not a full black vs white pattern. Those can be hard on the eyes. This isn’t. Extra details like a deep red felt undercollar, and corduroy trimmed interior pockets. Dress it up but don’t be afraid to wear it dressed down either. Topcoats look good with everything. It’s your coat. It’s meant to be worn a lot. Don’t stash it and save it for special occasions. Wear it. Wear it well. Big thanks to Zac K. for the tip here. Size shown above is a medium on 5’10″/185.
And also made in navy. Hard not to love those subtle camel accents. Still Italian milled fabric, but this time the blend is 45% recycled wool, 35% virgin wool, 15% nylon, 5% recycled nylon.
Simple, reliable, and affordable. They’ve been making these for years. Comes with a couple buttons/tabs on the back of the jacket for a more customized fit. Price is always a moving target, because that’s what J. Crew Factory does. $50 – $60 seems about right.
85% merino and a whopping 15% cashmere. More than a handful of colors and patterns, although they can come and go in terms of sizes and stock (which isn’t unusual for Spier… or any other brand right now in 2021). 3-roll-2 button closure. Fit is trim, and they suggest sizing UP if you’re going to wear it over suits and sportcoats. If you’ll be wearing it mostly over casual layers, they suggest taking your normal jacket size.
J. Crew Ludlow Car Coat in Wool Blend – $220.80 w/ FAMILY ($368)
Impressive. Knit fabric and soft construction makes it super easy to slip on and off, but it doesn’t feel like you’re just putting on a big-arse sweater. You’re putting on a coat. 42% wool, 41% poly, 17% acrylic fabric is super soft, and that check pattern is different & eye catching, without being obnoxious. Covered placket for a smooth look. No vent in the rear, but the fabric is so soft that the ventless design doesn’t inhibit movement. Straight fit, which is on-point for a car coat design. This thing is sneaky good. Size shown is a 40R on 5’10″/185.
This is a solid jacket, but the colorblock sleeves (plus ripstop texture and bright silver/nickel hardware) means the rest of your outfit has to dial back a bit. Useful sleeve pocket and handy snap front pockets, as well as a hidden inner pocket, can help stash some stuff, and the double zipper helps dial in the fit. But don’t be duped by the “lightweight” moniker on Target’s website. When I think “lightweight,” I think, “single-layer,” but this is definitely lined a bit. It makes it more cozy and fall-ready. Size shown above is a small on 5’9″ / 155.
Pretty, pretty good! Discovered these in 2020 and they’re still making them (and why not, if people keep buying them). Lighter weight with a lighter to medium warmth level. Should do well over a sweater when it’s cold. Fit isn’t half bad either. It’s not billowing out at the sides, yet it’s not shrink wrapped either. Size shown here is a comfortable but not blousy Medium on 5’10” / 195.
Hits mid thigh, which is a goldilocks perfect length. Covers a suitcoat/blazer tail, but doesn’t drown your knees and chop your frame awkwardly in a visual sense. Know that Suitsupply runs trim. Truly trim. So if you’re broader and/or you’ve been hitting the weights, be sure to try it on OVER some winter layers. It might be a struggle. If it’s a struggle, it has to go back. Coats gotta go on with some comfort. You don’t want to get into a fight with your outerwear every time you want to head out into the cold. Ships and returns free at least. So, no harm in trying.
And the fancy option. Eight hundred bucks, but it’s 100% Italian cashmere. Simple design and silhouette. I’d be scared to death I’d spill coffee on it.
British Millerain waxed canvas exterior. Flannel lining from the UK’s Moon Mills. Corduroy trim. Pockets. Lots of pockets. A heck of a hunting style jacket for 21st century life, whether you live in the city or the country. Fit is more straight than slim. Made for layering/warmth. Full review here. Unlike the waxed truckers, these don’t get the USA Made treatment. These are made in Indonesia with that UK fabric.
Old. School. 100% wool in a thicker but not brick stiff tweed. Interior cotton (I think?) cord draw string with leather cinch tabs to snug up the fit if you so choose. Just one catch: The sleeves are unlined. So in fact, the sleeves might catch a little as you get the thing on. But yeah, this is as heritage as it gets. Simple design, functional, and made with really good materials. Three colors available at $248, with a green houndstooth option for $298. Size shown above is a medium on 5’10″/185.
Full disclosure – there’s a little pre-distressing, but contrary to what some reviews would say, there is barely any at all. No obvious whiskering, no frayed seams, none of that. Just some unassuming “scratches” on the front pockets. So I say, who cares? This is a dang comfortable jacket. It’s got a noticeable little bit of stretch. It doesn’t feel rigid. It feels at home when you slide it on. I (the Ryan guy) am no denimhead, not by a long shot, but Target’s offerings seem to make wearing denim approachable. Size shown above is a small on 5’9″ / 155.
Nice to see these are getting restocked as the season rolls on (they sold out FAST when they first hit their site a month or so ago). Perfect slightly speckled, Italian wool fabric that’s flexible and warm. Long enough to easily cover your suit jacket or sportcoat tail, but won’t drown your frame either. Chest high hand warmer pockets. Shoulders that have enough room to get the thing on easily, but don’t restrict movement by being anchored too low. Also, the inverted box pleat in the back really does make moving around in this thing a real pleasure. It goes with you. Doesn’t fight against you. Cheaper coats just don’t feel like this. Available in navy (shown), camel, or green. Size shown is a 40R on 5’10″/195.
Chore coats are surprisingly great. Even if you’re a long time hold out on them (like I was), this is worth a try. They’re great to have around when a cardigan seems too heavy, yet you’re in short sleeves and you could use an extra layer. 100% organic cotton here. Garment dyed then washed for softness.
Form meets function. If you’re all-in on the outdoorsy, mountain man trend, you’ll love this jacket. 100% polyester fabric, but it’s a high-quality soft touch fleece. My guess is that this will keep you warm through November during the day, and can serve the role of a “house sweater” if the traditional shawl collar cardigan or chunky fisherman sweater isn’t your style. Goodthreads absolutely nailed the construction, fabric, fit, overall style and value proposition on this one. Shown here in a size Medium on Jason, who is 5’7″ / 175.
I know. Lots of Spier. But if there’s such a thing as a luxury puffer, then these are them. Wool flannel from famed Italian Mill Vitale Barberis Canonico. Treated to be water resistant. Button closure, hand warmer pockets, and there’s even a curved “boat” style barchetta pocket on the chest.
Just came back for another year. Dark and moody for a… shirt jacket. British Millerain waxed canvas. Another F&T that’s not made in the USA. So know that. Also available in a camo option, as well as a gray with a blaze orange lining.
There’s just something about a camel colored topcoat. It just looks rich amongst all the black and navy coats of fall and winter. Merino wool here from Charles Tyrwhitt. Half a grand is far from cheap, but be patient and you might be able to get it for 15% – 20% off during a sitewide code. Also available in light grey, navy, and black. CT makes more than shirts. A lot more than shirts. And their outerwear can be a particular “oh hey this is really nice, wasn’t expecting that” standout.
Becoming an annual favorite. Not cheap, but in terms of fit and execution, a step above your standard puffer. Makes you look athletic instead of… puffy. Super easy to move in too. It’s like they’re a company built around movement or something. Size shown here is a large on 5’10″/195. Also available in vest form (minus the hood) for $148.
Italian wool-blend from Vitale Barberis Canonico, cut in a slim, timeless, mac style. Medium gray shade should go with just about everything. No hood or other unnecessary nonsense. Just a great, three season (or four if you live in a warm climate), classy as all heck coat. Ships and returns for free.
The Reminder: Go check out your local Army/Navy Surplus store
The annual nudge to go check out your local surplus store if you’ve got one nearby. Most surplus stores carry high quality, usually made-in-the-USA outerwear. Feel free to swap out buttons if they’re too showy (like on the bridge coat on the right).
What’d we miss? Got a favorite piece of outwear that’s actually available for purchase here in the craizness that is 2021? Send those tips into email@example.com. Stay warm out there.