Northwest Woman

Helpful Hints for Selecting a Fur Coat

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A new fur coat is an investment that could be shared for generations. Before you buy a warm fur this winter, here are a few buying tips from the experts at The Fur Co. Williams-Laird, in Rockford.

Fur coats can come in a variety of styles and colors, from natural blacks, browns and ivories to vibrantly dyed hues.

Fur coats can come in a variety of styles and colors, from natural blacks, browns and ivories to vibrantly dyed hues.

With winter upon us, you might be in the market for a fur coat. Whether you’re buying your first fur or just looking to update your wardrobe, there are some things you should know before making this all-important purchase.

“The biggest thing people should know is that a fur coat doesn’t have to cost a lot of money,” says Chris Laird, owner of Fur Company Williams-Laird, 1603 N. Alpine Road, located in the Edgebrook Center. “You can buy a fur coat from $1,500 and up, depending on what you want.”

It was 37 years ago that Laird and his late wife, Eva, started their fur salon that features everything from rabbit to chinchilla furs, as well as accessories such as pillows, purses and scarves. In that time, Laird has seen it all when it comes to styles and customers’ tastes. 

“The biggest trend I’ve seen in the past 10 or 15 years is the simplicity of the fur coat,” Laird says. “Furs used to have big shoulders and a certain fullness to them. Not anymore. We’re seeing an elegant, classic styling. People don’t wear fur just for dress-up anymore. They wear it for comfort.” 

Laird strongly recommends finding a furrier, a professional who works with furs. “We love to teach people what to look for and how to make the right decision,” he says. “Someone may come in and say they have $3,000 to spend. We show them different styles that fit their budget. The entire process is a learning experience. Most people don’t know anything about fur before they walk into our store.”

Furriers also provide a full range of product care services such as repairs, restyle of older garments, as well as annual cleanings and on-site storage during the summer months in humidity- and temperature-controlled vaults. Fur Company also has a variety of fur coats on consignment. 

Not sure what length to buy? It depends on your lifestyle. A full length is ideal for formal occasions. A three-quarter length walking coat can be worn casually and formally – for errand-running, shopping, a luncheon, work meeting, or transporting kids to their activities.

“There are so many different styles to choose from,” says Laird. “It’s not just about fashion anymore. It’s also about warmth. A long coat can keep you warm. You can wear it all the time – whether it’s to lunch or to the grocery store.” 

Color all depends on the customer’s taste. Mink fur is available in natural colors such as black, brown, ivory and gray. If you’re looking for a fox fur, popular colors are red, silver, white or black. Sheered beavers and minks come in a rainbow of colors. “The biggest trend is sheared mink,” Laird says. 

While some furriers rely on social media to attract customers, Laird prefers a different route. He doesn’t even have a website. “I’m old school,” he says. “You can see a mink coat on a website, but no one is telling you anything about the coat. If you come into the store, I can show you the details of how the coat is made. It’s a much different experience coming in to touch, feel and look at the coat than it is shopping online.”

Laird also encourages customers to bring in a picture of a fur coat they like, and he can have it custom-made with his manufacturer furrier based in New York. 

After 37 years in business, Laird and his longtime staff, which includes Anthony Flowers, Elizabeth Bole and Marissa Bernachea, still get a kick out of helping people find the right fur coat. 

“This never gets old,” Laird says. “Our goal is to make it a fun experience buying a fur. I want customers to walk out of the store with a smile on their face. That’s our greatest satisfaction.”

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