battle of the vegan winter coats

okay, i know i already rambled on and on about the merrell coat, but now i have the north face coat in my possession as well, so i thought i’d better catch everyone up. i’m sure you’re all just on the edge of your seats.

quick refresher: the merrell is longer than any coat i’ve ever owned, slightly more casual-looking than i’d planned, but very warm and inviting nonetheless. it has cute turquoise details that probably amuse me more than the average person. i try it on almost every day because i’m being indecisive. it has a great hood, which fits very well and would even work on days that i regretted leaving my hat at home. of course, when i’m all zipped up to the chin and hooded i look a bit like a turtle in a sleeping bag, but that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

okay, so the north face coat arrived on wednesday afternoon, which was a great distraction for about 15 minutes during a time when i really needed one. i ordered the merrell in an XS, but i ordered this one in an S because it seemed like the measurements were a bit on the small side, and i was afraid of the coat being too tight. as it is, now i’m really wishing i had access to this coat in a store, because i’d really like to go back and forth and try both sizes just to see. the S seems fine, i just have to keep reminding myself that as far as fit goes, this is a winter coat, not a dress. it’s a little loose over long-sleeve t-shirts or thin sweaters (which is what i wear a lot of in winter), but i tried it on today over a sweatshirt (to approximate a heavier sweater) and it seemed better. i also keep trying on the old j.crew coat to ensure that i’m not over-romanticizing the style or the fit. heh. so anyway, probably the S is just fine, but i’m waffling. all righty, on to more interesting things!

just like with the merrell coat (and actually even moreso with this one), i was shocked at how light the box was when i brought it in. i don’t know what the heck i was expecting, but this coat is super-lightweight. it’s also very cute. the fabric is nice (it’s waterproof, but it doesn’t look like a windbreaker or a raincoat), the insulation is thin but cozy, and the peacoat style is really nice. also a great bonus: unlike a normal peacoat, this one has a hidden zipper! so you zip once, then button three times… rather than buttoning six times on a normal peacoat. efficiency! as with the merrell, the north face has cute details–a nip in at the waist, buttons at the wrists, an ipod pocket (although it’s much lower on the body than the merrell’s ipod pocket), and of course it comes in several great colors. you may recall i went with boring ol’ asphalt grey (hee), but there are also a bunch of other colors, which i always consider an exciting option.

then there’s the faux fur collar. in the online pictures, i have to say, i think it looks (potentially) very genuine, so i was kind of freaked out about the whole thing. the moment it got here and i touched it, though? faaaake city. it is very obviously synthetic if you touch it. i’ve tried it on both with and without the collar, and i’m not sure what i think yet. i have never worn anything with fur trim, so it seems weird to me to have this puffy furry collar on my coat, yet i do see the appeal–it’s snuggly, and it’s a pretty color. that said, when i modeled the coat for my husband, he said, "are you going to keep that on there?" and when i told him how i thought it looked pretty real on the online photos, he said, "yeah, it totally looks real." so, as i mentioned last week, if i end up keeping this coat, and if i do ever wear the collar, i will absolutely wear one of those faux not fur pins.

okay, so the long and the short of it is that i like both coats, for different reasons. i think the north face coat is a reasonable replacement for the j.crew coat, style-wise and warmth-wise, and also price-wise (i did some searching and the north face costs pretty much exactly what i’d pay if i wanted to buy a new cashmere/wool/thinsulate coat from j.crew). it’s not perfect (as in, it’s not the dream coat i was whining about in the first place) but it’s much much MUCH better than anything i’ve found so far, especially when you factor in the warmth issue. it’s easy to find cute vegan coats; it’s much more difficult to find cute, vegan, dressy, can-stand-up-to-a-midwest-winter coats, so with that in mind this coat is definitely the best i’ve seen. plus: waterproof!

but i really like the merrell coat as well, because it’s long and ridiculously toasty and has a hood. it’s not as kicky or stylie as the north face, but it’s cute in its own right and i could see wearing it as an all-purpose it’s-frickin’-cold-out coat. in other words, kind of as a replacement for my columbia, whose zipper disintegrated a year ago, but i still wear it a lot (especially for dog-walking and snow-shoveling) because it’s the warmest coat in my closet. so i did some searching on this as well, and  the merrell costs pretty much exactly what i’d pay (seriously, within fifty cents) for the columbia coat that is most closely matched to what i have now.

so basically what we have here is an "i choose me" situation where i want to keep them both and feel pretty justified in doing so. tee hee. (i mean hey, i returned like ninety pairs of boots and an expensive pair of goathair-tainted mittens; that has to count for something, right?)

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6 comments

  1. absolutely you should keep both! with the amount of work you went through to find something that you liked, well, the work finally paid off and you found two items that fit slightly different needs. and the time it took you as well!!
    KEEP THEM BOTH and don’t have a second thought about it. 🙂

  2. I’m glad you like the coats! And I guess I’d say, yes, keep both (partly because I’d want someone to say the same thing to me if I were in your shoes!). But the other poster is so right–when you think of how hard it is to find winter coats that fit the bill (vegan, warm, cute, practical, versatile, etc.) and how much time you spend searching, well, don’t you kinda deserve it? And/or consider it as banking against future coat-finding missions!
    It’s fun to hear about your (in)decision-making process, because that’s exactly how I am with my Zappos stuff, keeping it for days, trying it in different lights, enlisting my mini Style Council, etc., and I feel a little nutty sometimes. I’m still trying to figure out the boots, too–currently hemming and hawing over some vegan Sorels. I liked a bunch of the boots you listed, but they don’t make/don’t have them in my size (11). Boo! If you see any cute ones and feel like posting a link, that’d rock.

  3. river and lisa, you’re the bestest. you’re enablers! i love you! and i decided to keep them both. 😀 river, thanks also for the cookie recipes! i will have to add them to my arsenal and give them a spin.
    lisa, i’m glad you try things on for awhile too. we’re awesome. hee. i will definitely keep my eyes open for cute boots in size 11 and let you know if i find anything. i guess i’m very lucky to wear a thoroughly-average size 7!

  4. river and lisa, you’re the bestest. you’re enablers! i love you! and i decided to keep them both. 😀 river, thanks also for the cookie recipes! i will have to add them to my arsenal and give them a spin.
    lisa, i’m glad you try things on for awhile too. we’re awesome. hee. i will definitely keep my eyes open for cute boots in size 11 and let you know if i find anything. i guess i’m very lucky to wear a thoroughly-average size 7!

  5. do u have direct links to each coat you bought? I am looking for a good winter coat like the Northface Denali but w/out it costing so much! 🙂 thanks!

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