You Tell 'Em, Sister!Update! The next Salvation Army Coat Sale will be October 9th! We’ll rally the troops for a full report closer to the date, but for those of you searching for information as to what to expect, this is it!

Hello, Comrades, and welcome to the Salvation Army Coat Sale Survival Guide!

Coming soon is the Salvation Army Coat Sale, a legendary NYC event, taking place beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the Mothership (46th between 10th & 11th Avenues) on October 9. Yes, it’s still warm outside, and we’re enjoying the last licks of summer, but mark your calendars! Savvy women begin lining up early (by at least an hour) to take advantage of some of the best bargains in the country.  My friend Mindy swears by this sale, and has personally netted more couture furs, leathers, peacoats, overcoats, blazers, windbreakers, ponchos, jackets…(you get the idea) for a half of a fraction of what you’d pay retail!


If you’re worried that maybe you’ll get LAST season’s Prada, this sale may not be for you.  If, however, you are concerned with getting the biggest bang for your buck, and being truly amazed at the bargains and quality you’ll find, then DO show up with a small strappy handbag (you’ll be fighting alongside fellow comrades) and wearing something you can try coats on over.

I’ll be there myself, doing my best to retain a sense of humor and find my holy grail of a camel hair car coat, so if you’re there, say hullo!  (If you’re not sure if it’s me, the code word is “Cochise.”  I’ll teach you the TSC secret handshake!)

If you don’t live in New York City, before you hit the mall, PLEASE go check out your local thrift store to see what they’re offering.  For the ladies, be sure to check out men’s military coats and jackets – they’re all the rage out on this coast for the season.  Just make sure they fit in the shoulders and across the bust, then spend about $20 with your grateful local tailor to get the waist and cuffs nipped in a bit. Rock them with dresses or jeans and heels and a little bit of bling, like a couple of strands of faux pearls.  Or take a look at military peacoats. Shoulder rule applies here, but no worries about the waist.  Fellas, a peacoat makes you look awfully sexy, especially when you pair it with a good pair of jeans and a henley.

Note to the wise – show up early with a good friend, a full stomach, an empty bladder and wearing something fitted so you can try on the coats easily.  The first thing to do when they open the giant garage doors is shield yourself from the rush of people heading for the furs.  (And there are a LOT of furs – the prices are determined by length – a full length mink was purchased by one lucky shopper for $100!)  Instead of the furs, head straight for one of the few shopping carts…you’ll be ever so glad you did!  Have in mind the types of coats you’re looking for, be it a leather maxi or a peacoat for your fella, then grab ’em, throw ’em in the cart, and elbow your way into mirror space once you’ve gotten your cart full of possibilities!  Of course, take your handy dandy Thrift Store Kit with you (or at least hand wipes, water and something to eat that’s not messy).  Check for staining or rips near the entrance.

Though a camera malfunction ate the photos of my purchases, for exactly $130, I scored a leather maxi coat, a Burberry trench, a black wool full length opera coat, a crazy daisy brocade evening coat, 1 women’s and 2 men’s J Crew peacoats, a buttery suede Valentino jacket for my boyfriend, and more cashmere scarves than should be legal.

Whatever your styles or proclivities, get out there and  save your pennies, do some good, stay warm, and have fun!