With the winter months looming just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about buying fur coats. Whether you’re buying fur coats for the first time or are simply updating your wardrobe, it’s important to check the quality of the fur and the construction of the fur jacket before you make your purchase.
Inspect the Fur
It’s always important to check the quality of the fur when buying fur coats. Since fur apparel can
be made from the pelts of a variety of animals (mink or fox, for example), and pelts of the same
type can vary greatly in quality, make sure that all the pelts on the coat match in color, hair
length, luster, and consistency.
One of the best techniques when buying fur coats is to do a side-by-side comparison. Look at
coats of the same fur type, in different price ranges. Ask your sales person why they are priced
differently. Ask yourself why one looks better than the other, and then ask the sales person why
these characteristics differ. Also, always run your hand through the fur itself and look closely at
the hairs. You should see and feel the soft layer of under-fur beneath the outer guard fur. When
it comes to mink fur the higher qualities usually have a denser, more consistent under-fur and a
shorter guard hair length, giving a more velvety, rather than hairy, look.
Check the Construction
Checking of the construction of the coat you wish to purchase is another important aspect to
consider when buying fur coats. You want to be sure that the coat is well made. To do this,
examine the seams. They should be straight, not jagged or rough. There should be a nice, even
transition at the seams where two pelts are joined. Also, look for seams (or “cuts”) through the
middle of a pelt; if they are prominent you may want to choose a different coat.
In addition, depending on the fur type you may be able to see a natural striping down the center
of the pelts. From pelt to pelt, these should be consistent in both color and width. If they are
not, the quality of construction could probably be better. Paying close attention to the coat’s
construction will help ensure that you purchase a better quality fur garment. Do NOT be afraid
to throw a fur coat on the floor of the store and spread it out. This is a very good examination
method when purchasing fur coats.
After you’ve checked the construction of the coat, try it on. If the coat fits properly, it should
feel balanced on your shoulders. If the coat feels lopsided or unbalanced, it may need an
alteration to fit your body. It should also look like it hangs straight, on your body.
Fur or Faux?
One of the most important things to consider when buying fur coats is whether or not the fur
is real or faux (i.e. fake). Faux fur is a petroleum product that is very similar to floor carpet. It
is not an eco-friendly product, whereas real fur is one on the greenest products in existence.
There are numerous tests you can perform to determine if a coat is made from real animal fur or fake synthetics:
- Feel the fur: Before buying fur coats, roll the fur between your fingers. Real animal fur
will feel soft and smooth to the touch, while faux fur will feel bristly and coarse. Faux fur
will actually feel very similar to carpet fiber.
- Examine the fur closely: A real fur coat will usually consist of two lengths of hair, the
under-fur and the guard hairs, while the hair on faux fur coats tend to be one uniform
- Check the leather: When buying fur coats, it is best to try to see if you can examine the
backing of the fur. If it is leather, then it is real fur. If it is synthetic, or cloth (similar to a
burlap material, it is faux. If you cannot see the backing, then try sticking a pin through
the coat. If the pin goes through easily, chances are it's a fake.
- Burn the hair: This is one of the most important tests to perform when buying fur
coats. If your fur purveyor allows it, pluck a few hairs from the fur and light the ends
with a match or lighter. Real animal hair will singe and emit a burning hair smell. Faux
fur is usually made from synthetic plastic products that will melt and roll up into tiny
balls and will smell like burning plastic.
Don’t let the task of buying fur coats intimidate you. Feel free to ask your furrier any questions
you might have about the quality, authenticity, or construction of their coats.