The Hunt: Washable Winter Coats

Is your winter coat washable? Have you otherwise changed your coat preferences after kids? We’ve talked about how to buy a great winter coat on Corporette, but we haven’t discussed how that changes once you’ve had kids. Reader L wrote in, wondering where to find washable winter coats:

I love the Washable Wednesday feature! These days, machine washable is the number one feature I look for in clothing. Could you do a round up of professional, machine washable winter coats (i.e., warm enough to wear in the Northeast)?

Interesting question, Reader L — we’ll round up some of our favorite, classic washable winter coats, share a story about why washable winter coats can be handy, and look at a few other good resources for finding washable winter coats.

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(Hunting for more machine washable clothing? We feature some trendy washable workwear every Wednesday, have listed the best brands for washable workwear, and occasionally do roundups of just washable basics for work outfits!)

Classic Washable Winter Coats We Love

Pictured above: favorite washable winter coats as of 2021! Note that any faux fur hoods should be removed before washing. navy / purple / gray / black / green

Admin Note: This post was originally written on 2014 but completely revised and updated on Dec. 7, 2021 — we’re keeping the older comments on the post but are open to your thoughts on it! (There are SEO benefits to keeping the same URL and not publishing duplicate content.)

Why Moms May Want Washable Winter Coats

Innnnteresting. Here’s a fun story about me: After my first was born, as mentioned, I was way bigger than I’d been at any point in my life before — joy. I tried to muster up some groove and figured, “I can have an AMAZING winter coat, no matter what size I am — I want to love it every time I walk out the door. It’ll make sense even though I work from home, and I’ll still be able to be fashionable and feel beautiful.”

So I spent some money on a nice Cinzia Rocca wool/cashmere coat in a lovely dark green color. It looked nice with jeans; it looked nice with dresses. I could have fun with colors and wear my purple Loro Piana scarf with it, or I could go darker and wear black with it. It was perfect.

Fast forward to a few weeks after getting the coat, and it was my turn to pick my son up from daycare. I arrived, happily wearing my coat, and went about the usual routine of collecting his stuff. As per usual, I gave him a healthy snack to help his mood before dinner. The healthy snack was one of those yogurt mashes… and it did not help his mood. At some point on the 15-minute walk home, it turned into a Major Toddler Meltdown, and the yogurt, somehow, was everywhere — covering him, his little face, his coat, his stroller.

It was pretty cold outside so I focused on getting him home, gritting my teeth the whole way. When we got to the vestibule of our building, he leapt out of the stroller and turned to me, arms outstretched, still shuddering/sighing/sobbing.

Without thinking about it, I scooped him up into one of those mama hugs — the ones where you’re part sorry for him that he was in such a miserable Meltdown place, and part so, so relieved that it seemed to have finally run its course. And THEN I remembered: I was still wearing my new beloved wool coat — and he was still totally covered in yogurt.

Sigh. SO, I can see why washable coats might be a thing mamas would want. So let’s round ’em up. Before we get to them, though, I do have a few other ideas:

  • Rethink when you wear your winter coat around your kids. If you live in a car culture, do you really need to wear it walking from the parking lot to the building? Would something lighter (like an insulated vest, machine-washable puffy jacket, or even a washable wrap or ruana) work for that walk?
  • Patterns hide stains better than solids, particularly dark patterns — and they can be a chic way to inject some fashion and personality into an otherwise boring outfit. Add a swipe of red lipstick and it can be full-on glamorous.
  • Remember that a lot of wool coat instructions say “dry clean,” not “dry clean only — that traditionally has meant that you can, in theory, wash it. I’m not sure I’d throw it with abandon into the washing machine, but after a bit of spot-testing in an inconspicuous space, spot-cleaning the coat may be the way to go.
  • Buy an inexpensive coat. I really hate to recommend/encourage disposable fashion — it’s bad for so many reasons! — but I will say that you can often find very, very inexpensive coats — so that if a yogurt meltdown happens, they can be your backup while your other coat is at the cleaners. Thrift stores are also amazing for this purpose.

{related: interview coats: the best coats to wear over a suit in winter}

OK, on to the machine washable options… Readers, do you have washable winter coats? Do you have any tricks to avoiding yogurt-covered meltdowns?

Where to Look for Great Machine Washable Coats

The Mom Stores

The first, obvious option: Go to the Mom Stores. Lands’ End, Eddie Bauer, L.L.Bean… I’ve gotten way more familiar with these than I ever thought I would. They, predictably, have some insulated puffy coats that are machine washable and super warm — but to my eyes look decidedly like Mom Coats.

Some standout machine washable coats from the Mom Stores:

L.L.Bean’s long list of search filters for their coats’ various features — hooded, adjustable waist, insulated, packable, waterproof, etc. — sadly doesn’t include “machine washable.” And “washable winter coat” brings up zero search results… Fortunately, the majority of their winter coats are washable, with some exceptions, such as lambswool coats.

Their “Women’s Winter Warmer Coat” (it does what it says on the tin!) is a bestseller and very highly rated, with 1,500 five-star reviews. It’s not the most stylish coat you’ll ever see (although it does have princess seams to add some shape), but it will definitely keep you warm. It’s water-resistant and has a fleece-lined upper body and hood, along with added insulation in the sleeves.

This coat, which is $139, is available in regular, petite, and plus sizes up to 3X and comes in five colors — black, grays, and blues. It’s temperature-rated for light activity to 15° and for moderate activity to -35°

The Active Stores

The next place to look is the “active” stores — after all, no one’s going hiking in a cashmere statement coat unless they’re a character in a Hallmark movie.

Some standout machine washable coats from the active stores:

  • North Face’s Arctic Parka (pictured above in gray) — This has 3,600+ great reviews at Zappos, and is available in XS–3X — The North Face website has the most color and size options.
  • Patagonia’s 3 in 1 — This has been a reader favorite for years because it’s got a detachable nanopuff interior coat as well as the outside waterproof coat, so you can wear them separately or together. The coat comes in six colors at the moment in sizes XS–XXL for $599; you can find it at Patagonia or sporting good stores like Dick’s or REI. (The brand’s more affordable Nano Puff Parka is only $279 and also a big favorite!)
  • (Note that Amazon does not sell Patagonia — but searching on Amazon for the more $600 Patagonia coat pulls up a ton of more affordable dupes from similar companies and previous seasons.)

REI sells coats from Columbia, Marmot, The North Face, and other familiar names, but REI Co-op is their own brand, and it gets excellent customer reviews. If you aren’t a Puffy-Coat Person but you want a Serious Winter Coat that’s machine washable, here’s a great choice, REI’s Powderbound Insulated Jacket. As you can tell from the name, it’s designed for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, we won’t tell anyone if you’ve never touched a snowboard in your life and simply live somewhere with brutally cold winters. But if you love winter sports — bonus!

This coat is waterproof and windproof has a ton of features, including an adjustable hood, a lined collar to prevent chafing (nice!), a media port, and lots of pockets.

Besides typical winter-coat colors like black, gray, etc., this style is available in this pretty “toadstool,” which on my screen looks like a pale lavender. Sizes are XS–XL, and the price is $199.

Reliable Other Option: Insulated Raincoats

Gallery Nepage Coat with Detachable Liner

Depending on how cold your winter is, this may or may or not be an option, but: Gallery, London Fog, and other brands offer a number of washable coats that have detachable liners that are pretty warm, in my experience. Shoveling the snow in 20-below weather? Well, no — more like “run/walk to the car.” But that may be all you need. (Amazon also has a bunch under $60!) 

At the very least, these coats bypass the “puffy coat” look and all look conservative and traditional with a skirt suit. 

Another noteworthy option here: this reader favorite raincoat from Eddie Bauer (pictured) comes in an insulated option! I found it slightly puffier than I preferred, but it’s always an option. And it comes in regular, petite, plus, and tall sizes, which can be really hard to find.

A Few Other Approaches

There are a few “department store” brands that I’d consider regulars for machine washable coats — namely Cole Haan, Bernardo, and some of Tahari’s offerings. I’d look to affordable stores like Macy’s if you want something like that. The coat pictured above is a long-standing reader favorite from Cole Haan — look for it at Nordstrom Rack, Nordstrom, Amazon, Macy’s and others.

Another good option: Uniqlo’s coats are always affordable and often machine washable (especially their ultra-light down coats)– their offerings vary pretty widely from season to season (or even week to week), though, so if you like something act fast.

Washable Winter Coats for Pregnant Women

As I’ve suggested before, not every pregnant mama needs a maternity winter coat — it depends heavily on your due date, how you’re carrying, etc. (For my son born in May, for example, I think I just wore my winter coat open when my belly was too big in March/April.)

BUT: I always think these are neat options to keep in mind: There are a lot of maternity winter coats like this that have a zippered panel to adjust to a pregnant belly as well as baby-wearing. (And then the zippered panel zips out if you just need a coat). The pictured one is from Modern Eternity, and a lot of that brand’s offerings are machine washable, including this one.

{related: what to wear to work when it’s cold outside}

Otherwise Great Winter Coats

They aren’t necessarily washable, but do check out some of our all-time favorite winter coats in regular and plus sizes!

Some of our favorite classic coats for work as of Dec. 2021 include: olive / blue / green / caramel / black / gray (not pictured but also)

Hunting for great plus-size winter coats? These are some of our latest favorites:

Some of our favorite plus-size coats of Dec. 2021 include these brands: one / two / three / four / five (not pictured but also!)

Like this feature? Check out other recent installments on Corporette!

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