I haven't had a winter coat in years. I have a parka, green and cozy, and I have a leather jacket, brown and worn-in, really, I must say, the perfect leather jacket, and I got it in Italy, which cements its perfection, both in theory and in practice, but a leather jacket only gets you so far in winter (not this winter, which will be an issue later in this post, but generically speaking).
In high school I was a thrifty kind of girl (not penurious, but shopping-wise--much of my wardrobe came from thrift stores and Dollar-a-Pound, and I better get out of this parenthesis now, because, well, Dollar-a-Pound leads me back to my main point). It was the late 70s and early 80s, and we were--hmm, Lucy, what were we? Kind of hippies--in our senior class picture, Lucy is wearing Laura Ashley, I do believe, though she will probably disavow this claim, and I am wearing Indian print, and there were lots of Frye boots and vintage dresses, though back then vintage meant 40s and 50s, and I was shocked in London, early this century, to discover that vintage now meant 80s, which is when we started wearing vintage, but I am evading my point. My point is coats. And back then we wore old men's overcoats, loose and buttonless, generally with the sleeves rolled up. I believe mine was brown, and I'm sure it came from Dollar-a-Pound. I suppose, come to think of it, that now we would be called boho (though not C, who definitely leaned punk), but that term didn't exist back then, in the dark ages, when vintage meant the 40s and 50s.
Fast-forward to post-college (I think there were a few of the dilapidated overcoats during college, but maybe it was the same one: memory fails me). Post-college, I am a working young woman, though my job is appropriately boho-hippie. I am home for vacation, it must have been Christmastime, as coats were involved. My dad had had enough. He told me that if I would get rid of the coat, he would take me to Bloomingdales and buy me a new coat. I accepted his offer. And I bought a new coat that was as close to the old overcoats as possible, except new. It was gray, a kind of houndstooth tweedy sort of gray, and loose, almost over-sized, and quite comfortable and warm, and I was happy and my dad was happy. This was 1987. And that's the last coat I owned.
I wore it for years. I moved to California and didn't wear it so much. I moved to No-Longer-Red State and wore it a bit, but by then I was a bit more fashion forward, and it was a bit dilapidated (the lining was positively tattered), and when it was cold I just wore my parka, and the coat hung, unloved, in my closet, and eventually I knew that I would never again wear an oversized, shapeless, tweedy gray overcoat with a tattered lining, and I sent it off to Goodwill.
But buying a new coat was somehow beyond me. Classic and boring? Trendy and short-lived? Long? Short? Loose? Tight? What if I gained weight? What if I lost weight? Every year or so, I ventured into the coat department of some department store, but there were so many coats. How could one ever choose? I would slink away, hunched into my parka.
I told S that I wanted to be surprised for Hanukkah (yes, this is a plot twist, but I'm sure you can connect the dots). He told me that I was going to be very surprised. Honestly, I couldn't imagine what he could get me that would surprise me. I decided he was going to take me away for the weekend. On the first night of Hanukkah, he came home late and I was grumpy and he gave me earrings, which, I have to say, did not surprise me at all, as I'd noticed that he'd written a check to G, my jeweler friend extraordinaire who supplies much of my jewelry these days, and they were nice earrings and I liked them, but, I have to admit, I was rude enough to ask if this was the present that was supposed to surprise me, and, luckily, he answered no.
A few nights later, he was finally home for Hanukkah, and I guessed I was going to get my present, and I still had no idea. When he brought down a large soft present, I still had no idea. It wasn't till I opened it and saw the dark wool that I guessed. And then (really, I'm not a very nice person), I panicked. He bought me a coat?? What if I didn't like it? And then I saw that it was a size 6, and I knew it wouldn't fit, and this just seemed like it was heading for one of those mismatch-of-expectations-and-results, feelings-hurting disasters. I tried it on with deep trepidation, as the girls yelped about me in glee and S smiled sweetly from across the room.
Readers, I loved it. It's a long black coat, beautifully fitted, buttoned up to the neck, with a big geometric collar, deep pockets, and a slit up the back. It's cashmere and wool, soft as can be and warm. It fits perfectly. It makes me feel hip and happening. It's one of the best presents I've ever gotten. And yesterday, finally, I got to wear it!
OK, I've worn it twice before, on a barely cold enough evening and afternoon, but yesterday I wore it to work! Which is what I needed: a nice coat to wear to work! And I felt oh so hip, happening, and warm! So bring on the winter already!