Coat Check

Would someone please explain to me, when it’s still 50 degrees out, why stores are out of coats? I know it’s the end of April, but we’re far from the dog days of summer here in New England, and I don’t do all my shopping online.

104419903_e9171aaf64I discovered this strange fact of retail seasons over the weekend when I went hunting for a coat to replace my old spring/fall standby, which I’ve worn for at least ten years and is looking its age. I had a simple mission: find a shorter, wool coat that will keep me comfortable during transitional weather. Apparently this is something I should have thought of last August.

When I walked into a local Burlington (formerly Burlington Coat Factory, an off-price retailer specializing in outerwear—where I bought my now-ratty coat a decade ago), I encountered racks of summer shifts and prom dresses and all kinds of sports clothes. But where were the coats?

I asked a sales clerk. She brought me deeper into the store and showed me a few aisles amidst all the other clothes. “It’s the end of our coat season,” she said. “You’ll find the smalls over here.”

Did I mishear? I thanked her and went to look. There was one rack of small coats—including left-over winter jackets, a few raincoats and a collection of picked-over styles that clearly weren’t going anywhere. I walked around to the other side. All mediums. The next row were large and plus sizes. That’s it.

How could this be? I came here because of the coats. It can snow here in April. I know everyone else is running around in shorts and flip-flops because the sun is out, but I’m still cold, dammit!

So I started picking through the rack. I tried on long coats and short coats, designer labels and unknown brands, black, taupe, camel’s hair, red. Nothing looked good. They were either too big or too long in the sleeve or too wide in the back or too tight. Another woman was sifting through the rack, and we commiserated.

I was about to give up my quest when I discovered the clearance rack, with a few smalls mixed in with the rest. And there, hiding between an ugly black wool duffel and another black coat with a garish brash zipper, was a chocolate-brown-wool Calvin Klein trench, mid-thigh. I tried it on. The back didn’t ripple or buckle. The sleeves were roomy and didn’t bind. The pockets were in the right place, easy for my hands. I liked the color and the cut. And it cost only $55. The only drawback was the fact that the sleeves were a bit long, but I figured, at that price, I could always have them altered. Meanwhile, they’d keep my hands warm.

So, I bought it. One of life’s little victories. I’ll be wearing it when the rest of the world is going barelegged, but at least I’ll have style.

Photo Credit: Doug Ellis via Flickr

Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at


  1. Pat Bizzell says:

    The heroically persistent shopper vindicated–bravo! I too have observed the “retail seasons” with annoyance, especially since I hate to shop and go only when some vital piece of clothing finally gives out. Need-based shopping often does not coincide with the official season when that type of clothing will be in the stores. Sigh!

  2. Hi! Started reading your blog. I live with scleroderma also and also have a blog. Please check it out if you get the chance. I’d love to connect and share stories with you. I have only lived with it for the last 8 years and also live with and manage Lupus, Hypothyroidism, and Hypertension. Fun stuff I know. I’m excited to meet a fellow scleroderma blogger and would love to connect with you. I live in Texas so I’m lucky enough to be able to stay warm (most of the time) but I take a coat and gloves with me everywhere I go because people around here believe that every building indoors needs to be 30 below! I hope you are well and I look forward to hearing from you!

    • Thanks, Jasminne. Nice to hear from you. Sounds like you are managing quite a lot of your own. I know the feeling about too-cold AC. It’s kept me from moving south. Glad to hear you’ve developed your own strategies for coping! I wish you well, too, and I look forward to checking out your writing.

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