Coat Check Tips & Tricks, According To Party Girls


On The List (With Melissa Rich): A Party Girl’s Guide To Coat Check

Coat check is your friend — if you act right.

Nightlife with outerwear presents every party girl’s greatest seasonal gamble: Do you keep your coat and remain slightly too warm all night? Hide it in a random booth or add it to a community coat pile, leaving it defenseless against thieves and spilled drinks? Or do you brave the often mind-numbingly long line for coat check, where it’s numbered and, hopefully, carefully watched?

Depending on your level of neurosis, leaving your coat in the hands of a stranger could be debilitating — for me, there’s always a moment of separation anxiety close to what I’d assume a parent feels when dropping off their child at day care — but in many cases, it’s the best option. Yes, coat check is a completely archaic system with margin for error, but it usually works out — with the right decorum. Ahead, find the best coat-check tips and tricks, along with insider stories from the people watching your outerwear.

The Most Important Thing In Your Bag

Taking a picture of your ticket might not seem like a revolutionary idea, but you’d be surprised. Without a cute picture of my ticket and nails, I’d be left trying to prove which coat is rightfully mine among hundreds of others. Even with this method in place, catastrophe can easily strike.

Aly Reinert owns Hot Girl Coat Check, a service for bars and events that is exactly what it sounds like. She’s had dozens of people bring back the wrong ticket, even if it looks right. “Almost every coat check buys their tickets from Amazon,” she says. “There are a lot of the same tickets floating around the same neighborhoods, with people going to the same bars multiple nights in a row.”

While Reinert’s record is nearly impeccable, clients often create their own disasters, like when a guy showed one of Reinert’s employees a picture of his ticket in which the background didn’t even look like the bar they were at, she says. With more investigation, the photo was from a different bar down the street. “She told him that’s probably where his coat was, and then he asked her out,” Reinert says.

No Coat Left Behind

Every job has its perks, but coat check often has the potential for a huge payout, says How Cum host Remy Kassimir, who worked coat check at Fat Baby on the Lower East Side before it closed in 2015. “If a coat was left for three months, we could have it,” Kassimir says. “I got a lot of great coats.” Similarly, a friend of mine who worked at several high-end clubs says she remembers the night a Saks shopping bag with thousands of dollars of merchandise was left checked. After the customary 30 days the venue would hold onto items were up, “we got everything,” she says.

This jacket went straight to coat check.Courtesy of Melissa Rich

Coat Check Sees All

Don’t hold up the line fishing for your ticket, but more importantly, don’t catch an attitude after a few drinks. “How you treat the people working in the service industry shows what kind of person you are,” says my high-end club friend. “Generally, the nicer the coat, the worse the tip … and they’ll probably be rude, too.” While I only worked coat check a few times at a fine-dining restaurant, my prevailing memory is that people were far less kind than when I was serving or bartending at the same establishment.

Celebrities At Coat Check: They’re Just Like Us

A source who worked the coat check at a Midtown Michelin-starred restaurant continuously felt the wrath of many, often wasted, celebrities. They would demand their coats, forget which coat they checked, or not remember if they wore a coat at all, often relying on someone else to retrieve checked items. “There was an A-list actor dining, and when we handed him his coat, he said it wasn’t his,” she says. “It was really cold, but he walked out without it. We knew we’d get a call from his assistant and did before the night was over.”

One famous musician didn’t want his massive coat in the general-admission coat check, so my source had to stash it in the back of the kitchen. “He tipped me right, but it was heavy,” she remembers. “He was also ready to leave without it.” He may have had a point about regular coat check, as my source says the girls would take any opportunity to test-drive checked items. “We tried on every fur,” she says. “I tried on Beyoncé’s coat.” Who among us could resist?

Don’t Be Cheap

More than once, I’ve run back to a coat-check window yelling something along the lines of “Oh, my God, my phone is in my coat!” One of the messiest things you can do is leave something valuable in the pocket of a checked coat because it it doesn’t zip, the contents will probably end up on the floor. And if an item is lost and was never accounted for, it’s hard to prove it was ever in coat check — and therefore tough to get reimbursed.

Another easy way to lose things is trying to check multiple items on one ticket. Don’t stuff scarves or bags into sleeves; when in doubt, get another ticket, especially when there are multiple coats. “People are always trying to do that,” Reinert says. “They always end up falling off, and then you have unidentified coats on the floor.” If you wouldn’t do it in your closet, you shouldn’t do it at coat check.

Should You Trust It?

“I do always check my coat,” Reinert says. “It’s nerve-wracking, maybe because I know the ins and outs, but it’s worth the $4 to protect your stuff.” Being able to name as many details about your items can help prove they’re yours if it comes down to it. Walking up and saying “It’s the black one” is never a good call. Naturally, always tip and be kind to whoever is taking your coat. They hold the true power.