I'm a high school senior in warm, sunny California, who will be going to college in cold...rainy....Washington state. I love rain, but I have very little to shell out on a new wardrobe. I'm a poor college student here! I need a glorious warm coat and some knee-length leather boots to keep out the rain... and I need to be able to afford it all. Any suggestions? Please and thank you.
Congratulations on coming to the Pacific Northwest! I'm sure you'll like it here. Yes, it can be a bit damp, but the people are super friendly, the food is super tasty, and you can't say we don't appreciate a hybrid vehicle or an Obama bumper sticker.
Let's talk about the coat: Yes, you'll need a warm coat. Not as warm as you would need, in, say, Chicago, but it definitely gets chilly here. My favorite glorious warm coat is a wool peacoat. Some people might say this is a boring choice, but I say it's a classic, and there are so many variations and unique details that can set yours apart. Try one in a rich color, or with a belt, bold buttons, pretty lining, attached bedazzled cape, whatever. A peacoat goes with everything and will keep you warm and stylish--that's a Daddy Likey guarantee!
St. John's Bay Cashemere-Blend Classic Pea Coat, $99, here
For most of the cold/rainy months, you can get away with a fabulous, bright-colored rain coat with a warm sweater underneath, which I highly recommend. This one is adorable:
Puff Sleeve Rain Jacket, on sale for $44, here
An important note for Pacific Northwest* transplants: Buying a black North Face fleece jacket in Oregon and Washington is like 3 years of national military service in Israel: required, although exceptions may be made on religious, physical, or psychological grounds. I tried getting through my freshman year of college without one, and I think I made it three months before I cleaned out my savings account and procured one for myself. Yes, this was the same year I so easily caved to the baggy OSU sweatshirt craze, in addition to carrying on a 6-month flirtation with a guy in my French class because he offered to combine shipping costs on an order of Converse All-Stars, but still, I want you to know the North Face fleece pressure is there, and it's tremendous--be ready.
As for those leather boots, I think your best bet--if it doesn't gross you out--is to hit up some thrift stores and/or ebay. Cheap, cute, new leather boots are tough to find. Cheap, cute, vintage leather boots are not. And as a bonus, secondhand (secondfoot?) boots are already worn in, so your chances of becoming known as "limping bloody blister girl" around campus are less.
If you're set on a new pair, here are a couple semi-cheap options:
Naturalizer Scurry Boot, $72, here
Also, these are pretty badass.
And don't forget that if you're looking for cheap, waterproof, and eternally cheery (even on the dreariest of northwest winter days), you can't beat a pair of bright red rain boots:
RSVP, $10, here
*Wasn't sure if I should include British Columbia in the North Face fanatics category--does the obsession with expensive water-repellent fleece jackets extend across the border?