How to buy a fall jacket you'll still love next season

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Yep, we felt that too. The cool breeze in the air can only mean one thing! Fall is on its way - which means you might be in the market for autumnally appropriate outerwear. And while your trusty jean jacket will get you through the first leg of the season, soon enough it's going to be time for something a little cozier. But since coats can end up being a bit of an investment, choosing something that will work season upon season - that you'll look forward to pulling out of your closet year after year - is a fiscally fashion-forward bet. So what should you be looking for when you're out shopping? Here's our advice for choosing a fall coat that just won't quit.

Don't go too trendy.

Let the record show: We love a good camouflage print (it's a new school neutral, seriously). And last fall, camo-coats-from canvas to puffers-were all the rage. But while we were certainly covetous of the cutest ones, when you're looking for a jacket that's going to take you through many seasons, picking something a little more basic that you can update with accessories is a good way to go. Look for a shape you like that suits your style, and shop from there. (That said, if you find a cute, on-trend jacket at an amazing price, go for it! Who says you can't have two?)

But remember black isn't your only option.

Yes, we think you should look for something that seamlessly transitions from year to year. But that doesn't have to mean black. Electric blue, rich mustard, oxblood-we love 'em all, and coats in those colors work just as well with a pair of jeans as they do with with dress-up gear.

Though there are a few reasons you might want to consider picking something in a darker color, especially if you want longevity out of this jacket. The deal with coats? You wear 'em every day, and for that reason they just tend to get dirty-fast. Your dark brown or army green jacket won't show the wear as much, but your pale pink one probably will. Generally, that's not a problem a little dry cleaning can't solve, but it's still something to keep in mind as you shop.

Not seeing anything you like in the usual spots? Open up your search.

You've been everywhere and you still can't find something that's lighting your fire, jacket-wise. So what's a girl to do? Skip the mall and hit the online shops instead. Yes, it's important to try on coats and understand the fit before you make a decision, but so many sites offer free returns these days that so long as you're willing to be patient, online shopping might actually be easier than in-store shopping. First stop: Head over to ASOS and check out what's new (it's safe to say we're obsessing over this little beauty). Nada? No problem. MANGO is killing it on the coat front, especially with this military-esque style. And yes, that is a detachable faux-fur collar (our advice? You can always replace it with something a little softer if you'd like!). You'll never go wrong with one of ZARA's well-made, perfectly crafted coats. But if you're still not seeing what you want, we recommend browsing through Etsy. One of our own bought this gorgeous coat last year through the site, and spent the entire winter being asked where she found it. And while she wasn't willing to share that secret with strangers on the street, we're more than happy to pass it along to you!

You get what you pay for.

There are bargains (i.e. a great deal on something that's well-made). Then there is cheap (paying very little for something that's probably not going to last that long). Both are fine, so long as you know what you're getting into. But when it comes to a coat you're hoping to wear again next year, keep out of the cheap realm and stay in bargain territory. The one exception? A serious vintage steal-sometimes those are just a gift from the universe. But before you buy, take a look at the fabric, seams, zippers, and overall quality of a coat. Sometimes, spending just a little bit more can make a huge difference.

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