How to choose the right winter coat – a complete guide!

A lot of people get excited about winter in New York City – especially tourists coming from places that don’t have such a cold winter like here. I always receive a lot of questions from my Brazilian readers on what to wear for this season in the city.  And after almost 6 years living here, I have been learning more and more about it, so, I’ve decided to write this guide about winter coats. Remember: the key for a perfect winter outfit is not to wear dozens of pieces but a few good ones. The quality of the layers you wear will determine how protected you will be. Here are tips on what to look for in a coat, as well as shopping suggestions.

Quick tips

  • Quality matters – You know how important it is to read the label to check the list of ingredients when we talk about groceries, right? Just like the ingredient list of a cosmetic, right? It’s the same with clothes! Get in the habit of reading the label, especially when it comes to coats. Many are made of cheap acrylic. Sometimes you find something advertised as “wool” but in reality, there is only a small percentage of wool and then 80% nylon and spandex.
  • Check the length – there are jackets of all length sizes: short, mid, long. For extreme cold temperatures – and to ensure you stay warm and well protected – prioritize coats that cover at least your hips.
  • Important features – Pockets and hoods are essential in a good winter coat – even if you wear gloves and a winter hat, these are details that make a difference, especially when it is windy.
  • Insulation – For extreme cold, it is important that the jacket is insulated. Remember that wool and leather jackets are usually not insulated. To identify an insulated jacket, see the photo below, like puff coats.
  • Be patient and do your research -Understanding your needs and having a budget are factors that will help you a lot when choosing a good winter coat! Explore the options carefully!

Different types of insulation

  • Down is the most lightweight and compressible insulation on the market and it comes from the undercoating of ducks and geese known as plumage. It retains your body heat while maintaining breathability. Usually, these jackets come with a fill rating that typically falls between 500 and 900 (the higher, the warmer). But, remember:  when wet, the feathers will clump and lose a lot of their insulation properties. If you need something waterproof, there are down jackets in the market with this feature. Down is lightweight so it can be easily packed and it can last a long time when properly cared for.
  •  Synthetic – it is comprised of polyester fibers and it can retain warmth when wet and dries easily. These materials, usually less expensive than down, mimic the down warming qualities and it is measured in grams of a square meter. Remember that “puffiness” sometimes doesn’t matter —superfine fibers in the insulation can create slim-yet-warm jackets. Also, synthetic can be heavy and a little less durable than a down jacket. Synthetic insulation is water-resistant washing machine friendly.

REMEMBER: While each type of insulation has its benefits, at the end of the day, YOUR needs will determine which one to choose.

Things to note when reading a jacket label 

  • Body shell 
  • Lining
  • Filling
  • Wool %
  • Waterproof
  • Water-resistant

Shopping tips

  • Down insulation coats – women – Macy’s and Uniqlo
  • Down insulation coats – men – Macy’s and Uniqlo
  • Synthetic – insulation coats – woman – Macy’s and Uniqlo
  • Synthetic – insulation coats – mend – Macy’s and Uniqlo

Other shopping options

  • Everlane is one of my favorite brands. They partner with the best, ethical factories around the world, source only the finest materials. Everything has high quality – and this is what matters, at the end of the day, right? Everlane has two very cool collections regarding winter jackets: Re: Down®. It’s made from recycled fill from down comforters and pillows. Another one is ReNew, made from recycled plastic bottles. Cool!
  • Aritzia – I love everything about this Canadian brand. They have the Super Puff collection, engineered to deliver warmth to -30°C/-22°F.  Designed with maximalist proportions, this version is made from an innovative Japanese ripstop fabric that’s water repellent and gives when you move. Additionally, it contains 100% responsibly sourced goose down.

Stores in NYC to buy winter coats

  • Burlington – it is a discount store and features tons of coats, but you have to be patient! They have coats from brands such as London Fog and Calvin Klein, for more affordable prices. Keep in mind you not gonna find a great array of sizes.  Both the men’s selection as the women’s selection is great, as well as kids. Locations: 517 East 117th St / 707 Sixth Ave / 4 Union Square South
  • Century 21 – it is a famous discount department store, outlet style. You can find very cool brands such as Vera Wang, DKNY, Vince Camuto, Kate Spade … prices may be more expensive than Burlington, but here you will find more sizes available. Compared to retail, discounts on Century 21 can reach 70%, so it’s worth taking a look. Plus: avoid the downtown location – my favorite is the one in the Upper West Side. Locations: 1972 Broadway / 22 Cortlandt Street / 61-35 Junction Blvd.
  • Marshalls / TJJ Maxx – these two stores are also discount stores, with a lot of winter coats. The prices are really good and affordable. Locations: TJJ Maxx  – 407 East 59th St / 808 Columbus Ave / 250 West 57th St / 620 Ave. Of The Americas / 14 Wall Street / Marshalls –  620 Ave of Americas / 2182 Broadway / 517 East 117th St, Ste 401 / 625 Atlantic Ave. / 96-05 Queens Blvd.
  • Second-hand shops – certainly, the most interesting option for those that want to save money! During winter time, these stores have a lot of winter coats and the prices are really good. Besides that, pieces are in great condition. I’ve seen coats for $15, $20, $60 – from brands like Barneys, DKNY, and vintage items. Locations: I love  Beacon’s Closet, Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads.

7 tips to upgrade your winter outfit 


  • Try leather pants – it doesn’t have to be leather, it may be faux leather. The texture of the leather is great for winter outfits and adds a modern look. I have one from Lulus – it fits perfectly, it is comfortable and it keeps you warm. A basic outfit – with sweater and coat – will be well stylish if you wear this type of pants. And you can use it with both sneakers or boots.
  • Wear a scarf – it’s a fact: the scarf is a must for winter. Believe me: it makes all the difference when it comes to keeping you warm in the freezing temperatures in New York. And since it is necessary, make smart choices. Analyze your clothes and choose scarves with shades that will match your clothes. Plaid prints, for example, are charming and add some color to a neutral look.
  • Wear knit-hat – Besides keeping your head and your ears protected, these kinds of hats are also super charming and give you a very cool look. It is a simple and cheap accessory that makes a huge difference.
  • Wear a hat – hats can add a cool and elegant vibe too!
  • Try over-the-knee boots – besides keeping you warm, over-the-knee boots are sexy, powerful and modern.
  • Wear skirts and dresses – use your thermal tights and show your legs wearing dresses and skirts, just to change a little bit! You can also play with tights in colors like purple, grey, or burgundy.
  • Follow me on Pinterest for more winter inspiration!


  • Final tips:
  • Check my Uniqlo guide.
  • The links presented in the post are from affiliates – it costs nothing more to buy for them and you help me!


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