The thing about buying clothes second hand is that you have to put up with a lot of crap. You have to look at a lot of hideousness, you absolutely will put your hand in a pocket that has someone else’s old tissue in it, and if you shop at Savemart, you will scratch yourself with staples down the back of your leg while trying on jeans. It’s frigging savage out there.
About once a year, I find something that makes it all worthwhile (that’s right – once a year. Once. A. Year). 2018 has been a bumper year because I’ve had several great finds, including these brand new, unworn¸ Ted Baker shoes still in their box from Kirkcaldies, snapped up from Recycle Boutique for less than a hundred bucks. But my greatest find of the year – nay, of my life – is this coat.
My fashion historian…ness is pretty average, so I’m unsure when this coat was made, but it’s definitely not recent. Maybe the 70s? Maybe earlier. Whatever the era, when I lifted it from the rail the thing I was struck by was its weight. This thing is pure wool, fully lined, and a dream come true. Those are original buttons, and it’s in incredible, flawless condition. What were the chances I would find this beauty of a coat in a Savemart AND find it in my size??? Infinitesimally small, but since we know 2018 is My Year (thanks Susan Miller and the planet Uranus for that confirmation), I’m taking this win and running with it. I could not give the nice woman at Savemart my $29.99 fast enough. TWENTY-NINE NINETY-NINE are you serious. I’ve paid more for a magazine.
Obviously, the pressure of owning this coat is immense. Somebody else has owned it for 40 plus years and kept it pristine, so I do not want to be the dickhead who ruins it now. That meant two steps immediately needed to be taken: cleaning, and reinforcing. My drycleaner visibly blanched at this, since it took him two seconds to clock that it was old (and special) but like the damn champ he is, he cleaned it perfectly (shout out to Willis Street Drycleaners for being my drycleaning bae). Then I took it to my excellent tailor/dressmaker at [xxxx] and had her remove and resew every single button – those bishes are irreplaceable and I do not want to lose one in the street without realising.
Here are the things I love about this coat:
- The cut. That high collar and the severe style make me feel like a bad ass and as we know, that’s pretty much my #mood. I love it with my short hair, because hello my neck is often cold.
- It has a long vent at the back so I can Power Swish in this coat. No struggling to take decent length steps – I can do a full lunge in this coat with no worries.
- Those buttons, can we just salute them for being wonderful. People always comment on the buttons, as they should.
- You can wear it all the way up to the neck or you can open the neckline to do some scarf-based accessorising. Both look awesome.
- It’s long, so I can wear it over almost all my dresses without having a weird/annoying hemline popping out the bottom.
- The sleeves are a sensible length on me! Yes! Every other coat or jacket I’ve owned in my life has required the sleeves to be taken up at least 2 inches.
The temptation to leave this on the rail, or to keep it on the dress form in my office, is immense. To buy acid-free tissue and wrap this immaculate creature up, away from moths and splashes of coffee and accidental swipes of lipstick, only taking it out from time to time to admire it as it stays perfectly the same. Locked in a strange kind of fashion amber, never aging and never decaying, while I do both over years and decades. But we know my fashion philosophy – clothes live only when you wear them, and fashion was made to be worn – so I’ve been taking this little lady out on the town. It’s gone to work with me numerous times (it’s the only coat that gets its own padded hanger on the coat rack at work), it’s been to fancy work dinners, it’s been neatly laid on a bedroom floor and worn over (clean) gym gear – I strongly suspect it’s seen more action in the past month or two than it has in years. I can see the fabric responding to wear, with creases appearing and the coat becoming less rigid, and I’m totally okay with that.
Who owned this coat, who bought it? I doubt it was as cheap for her as it was for me, so thanks to the mystery woman who essentially subsidised this coat for me. It might have been her only smart coat, and maybe that’s why it looks so perfect – she really loved this and she really looked after it. Did it find its way to Savemart at the end of that woman’s life? I can’t imagine the original owner would have been too quick to throw this into a clothing bin, so it feels like someone else cleared this away. Did she have a matching hat, and gloves, and shoes and a purse to wear with this? What would she think of me throwing it on over lycra or miniskirts?
I think – and I hope – she’d be pleased to see someone love this coat again.