Winter Outwear

Isn’t it tomorrow? Uh, yeah.

I live in a cold climate. Seriously I marvel that people lived in this area of New England before the advent of central heat.

Therefore we need lots of warm clothing.

My children also engage in outdoor sports and need to be dressed appropriately for it. Being dressed improperly can not only be dangerous, but ruins what night ordinarily have been a fun experience.

Cheap outwear =poorly made outerwear = not warm outerwear. Cheaper winter coats and snowpants also seem to rely on bulk for their warmth instead of the quality of material. Bulky clothing isn’t good for skiing or snowboarding. Sled riding in your neighbors backyard? Sure, those cheap snowpants will do the job. Because when you child gets cold they aren’t likely to get hypothermia, they can just head on home. When you are out on the ski slopes, you really don’t want that to happen.

I have also found that investing the money upfront in these good quality items means that they will last and be able to be passed down to subsequent children or even resold at consignment shops. Now I am not talking about extravagant name brand clothing. Most of our items come from Land’s End or LL Bean. There definitely seems to be a point past which you are paying for a name, not for any increase of quality. Both of these companies have great customer service as well as quality products. No, I don’t get a kickback from them for writing this, though I should.

Way way back, what feels like a lifetime ago, I had only three kids. My oldest son had a red winter coat. My second son had a periwinkle blue coat. The next winter came along and I went to pass down the coats and buy a new one for my oldest when I was hit with, “Why does he get a new coat? I don’t want his red coat. I want my own coat!”

I don’t think so. On the one hand I felt like saying too bad you will wear what I tell you to wear and be happy with it! On the other hand I didn’t want him, or any subsequent children, to feel like they were always being slighted.

And so the navy blue squall parka for Land’s End became the coat of choice. No one can tell if they are wearing the same coat they wore last year or if it is from their older sibling or if it is brand new. They are all pretty much the same. I still have those same original coats and they have been passed down through five boys and look almost as good as they did back then. More importantly it has become a non issue.

And while $70 a coat might seem like a lot of money, the quality can not be surpassed.

To keep the coats straight I put tick marks on the label where it says name. When the coat gets passed down to the next child I add a tick mark. As an added bonus, I can look at the coat and say LASTNAME IIII (four) your coat is on the floor. Put it away.

19 Responses to “Winter Outwear”

  1. Heather Says:

    OMG! That is hysterical and genius all at once. I really had issues with the hand me down thing because I, too, didn’t want my kids to feel they always had big sister’s leftovers. I just ended up buying all new every year! I so wish I would have found you years ago, but this is a great idea for future winters.

  2. T in HD Says:

    I have girl, boy, girl so some of the kids’ things have to jump a kid (over the boy), which makes it easier–#3 doesn’t remember her sister ever wearing a particular item. However, so far, I’ve been really lucky with hand-me-downs since my kids all consider a hand-me-down from an older sibling or cousin to be exciting and a great honour all at once. It’s always very exciting for them when I pull outgrown items from one child’s shelf and add them to the next child down’s shelf or when they get a box of clothes from their cousins. So, God, the Fates, *whoever* saw fit to curse us with chronic financial crisis tried to make up for it by giving me kids who think hand-me-downs are cool, LOL! ;)

  3. meritt Says:

    Until you get down to your little princess… who says; “I don’t want a navy blue coat! I want a PINK coat!” and then who do you hand it down to? Hee hee hee.

  4. liz Says:

    MM (an only child) got those Land’s End and LL Bean coats, handed down from his cousins in Vermont. They’re really warmer than we need here in Virginia, but they’re in great shape (seriously! Like new!) despite having been through two very hard-playing, athletic kids already.

  5. Denise Says:

    Last Name IIII hahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaa I love that.

  6. Kristen Says:

    Thanks for sharing. Does LLBean still have their “if you rip it or mess it up you can send it back and get a new one free” thing? J crew did that - not sure if they still do - and it was great.

    I remember they did that with bags - maybe it’s just for them…

  7. The Lazy Organizer Says:

    This is a great idea! Thanks! Now I just need to find myself 6 boys to do this with.

    I’ve got a boy and two girls. Girl’s styles change too fast and I hate it! Plus their clothes actually have to fit. I can buy my boy a shirt three sizes too big and he can wear it for three years and it looks fine. My girls look like hobos if their clothes don’t fit exactly right.

  8. jen Says:

    Can I ask you a REALLY dumb question, Chris? Do you buy these online? As I can’t find any stores in CT and was hoping to go and take a look at these coats when I am over next month.

    Back to the topic - this is such a good idea. I have *just* about convinced my husband that going ‘cheap’ is not necessarily cost effective in the long run. Ok so we don’t plan on 7, but even with 2 or 3 it makes sense to get something that lasts, or at least can be resold. I now have the goahead to buy Gap pants in duplicate when we come over - at last! (goodness knows I won’t buy them at the price they charge in this country!).

    Another cheeky question - are there any particularly good consignment stores in the CT area that you can recommend?

  9. Want Not » The leaves are turning, the snow is coming Says:

    [...] Chris wrote a great post about this, so I have only a few things to add beyond her sage advice. (Seriously, buying everyone the same coat? In the same color? Brilliant.) I’ve addressed some of the issues related to getting a great deal on a winter coat, before, but now I want to look at the added issues of outfitting your kids for the harsh weather. [...]

  10. Chris Says:

    I have really enjoyed your past few posts about to save or not save. The first few years I saved everything. I mean everything. It was ridiculous. Now I have adopted a new policy. Unless it is in perfect condition, it goes. When I do laundry, if there is a stain I cannot remove, or a huge hole, it goes directly into the trash. I used to have 11 totes of clothes, that didn’t include what was in their closets. Now I have 4.

    Another thing, I cannot get excited about cheaper clothing. I would rather pay a few extra dollars to get better quality clothing than to have the cheap stuff fall apart after a couple of washings. The outerwear I like to buy is Columbia. At the end of the season I can get a decent price and the coats and pants will last forever. (I still have a 24m. Columbia coat that is still in great condition!) Not to mention that it is better quality material that keeps my kids warm.

    One more thing, I have a pet peeve. Because I have three boys, everybody and their brother feels the need to drop off clothes to me. I have come home to find garbage sacks full of boys clothes sitting on my porch. While I do appreciate the sentiment, I wish they wouldn’t do this. Most of the clothes are torn, stained or generally disgusting. Good Will is another 5 blocks from my house, please keep driving!

  11. Keri Says:

    Kristen, I am a native Mainer and can tell you that LL Bean still has its 100% lifetime satisfaction guarantee. I’ve made many exchanges with stuff that got worn out too quickly or stretched out to ridiculous proportions with no problems.

  12. chris Says:


    My gosh people do that to me too! Give me clothing that shouldn’t even be donated to Goodwill and say, “Oh it is ripped but I thought you could fix it.” Really?

  13. Dana Says:

    I use the same tick-mark system with clothes (except I use big black dots, easy to see), so that persons other than myself can sort and put away the clean laundry. That’s the theory at least.

    All of my boys’ names start with M, and sometimes we call them M1, M2, and M3.

  14. ethan Says:

    The tick mark system in brilliant! Land’s end was a lifesaver when I lived in New Hampshire, I guess before central heat they used bear skins or something :-)

  15. A Gaggle of Girls » Blog Archive » She’s Growing Says:

    [...] And I belatedly realized I forgot one of the signs of fall - Mir and Chris (and I’m sure other New Englanders) are talking about the best ways to buy boots/coats/other foul winter weather gear. Bah. I’m not ready for this after yesterday’s gorgeous beach day! I guess I need to go catalog what boots we have in what sizes sometime soon, though. feh [...]

  16. Jen Says:

    I only have one child but still swear by the Land’s End Squall Parkas ! When my son outgrows one, I pass it along to SIL and she passes them along to her girlfriend - they never wear out !

    P.S. the backpacks wear just as well - my son has been carrying the same one for three years (although this year he really wanted a brand new one but I talked him into one more year)

  17. Brenda Says:

    Ok Someone tell me what is up with Land’s End sizing? Their size chart indicates that my 6 month old would be a size 2T - 3T??? Ok He’s a big baby but he isn’t a toddler!!!!

  18. Thorny Says:

    That is genius with the winter coats!!

    My twin boys have different sized feet, and so without realizing it, I’ve been doing the same thing with their shoes. They’re only 2, so they haven’t reached an age where they really care yet, thank goodness. But at the beginning of August, when they both were hitting that point of really outgrowing their sandals, I was like, “You’re kidding me! I don’t want to buy them all new sandals yet!”

    Until I realized that I could just buy one more pair in the next size up, move H into B’s sandals, and B could wear the new ones. And unless they do some super-crazy amount of growing over the next year, at most I’ll only have to buy one pair of sandals next summer.

  19. Kellie Says:

    As for when the princess is ready for her blue squall parka, nothing like a sparkly hat and scarf to glam her up and let the world know I am girl hear me roar…
    I also do the dress in the same color thing, with four keeps counting heads easier!