Isn't it GORGEOUS outside, kids? My foot went right through one of the toes of my tights this morning, and as I tossed the traitorous pair of leggings, I thought-- why not go barelegged today? It's gonna be 70 something by noon! I put on a pair of black flats and one of my brightest print Hawaiian dresses to greet the day. I know we're going back in to the colder double digits next week, but by golly, why not enjoy this sunshine while we can.
To celebrate a day no-coats-would-be-worn, I thought I might show you a few of the winter wear selections I've been wearing lately. Usually, I just wear my one, good, black wool dress coat to living death, but this year, I've been trying really hard to wear some of the excessive number of colored wool coats stashed in my office's coat closet. Also, I got rid of maybe five coats, which was like cutting my own heart out of my body, but I have to admit, it's nice to be able to reach into the closet and effortlessly pull out a piece of clothing! Before, the struggle to free a coat or find the one you wanted was almost more effort than braving the arctic climes!
As long as I have been buying old clothes, and this is stretching back to about eighth grade for me, I have been trying on coats with fur collars. Big ones, short ones, little bitty ones-- print ones, solid ones-- coats with collars of ermine, fox, chinchilla, mink, and faux everything...when I see one of these so-and-so's at the Goodwill, I can't help but try it on. And each time, is it an act of optimism! From the average selection of these coats, you would think most women who owned outerwear like this in the fifties' and sixties' resembled one of those pepper pot women from a New Yorker cartoon, instead of the Suzy Parker young secretary type I have in mind when I hope it will fit. Being tall, it's imperative NOT to wear something tent-like and too short or I look completely crazy-- remember I told you most forties' full length fur coats fall above my knee and make me look like Grizzly Adams? Ditto on fur collar coats. Which is why I was OVER THE MOON to find this lipstick red coat with brown fur collar at the Rivergate Goodwill a year ago, which fit like a glove. Every time I wear it, it feels like I'm stepping out of some midcentury, Jerry Wald produced movie (see: The Best of Everything; rinse, repeat).
Remember when I bought this coat last year at that basement estate sale in Madison? The button it was missing, it is still missing-- but it occurred to me to remove two of the six buttons, and suddenly nothing looks amiss! I love how BRIGHT blue this coat is. I struggle a lot with the temptation to just wear all black, all the time. Or black and one-color-or-pattern. It's my cardinal rule! One, you don't have to worry if things coordinate, they just do; two, the black-and-monochromatic obsession is less of a gothic impluse except in the root Germanic sense of the word. I always, de profundis, want to look like Marlene Dietrich in one of her von Sternberg collaborations, and that means black ostrich feathers on black velvet with a black crepe cape! And maybe a sequined gold mantle, just for fun. You will never see me in green tights with a yellow skirt and a red blouse-- not because I don't love people who can use color in their wardrobe (my sister and my friend Ruthie, both artists and snazzy dressers with a strong hold on "how to use color", come to mind), but because of how uncomfortable I feel without a "grounding" overtone of black in an outfit. Note I am still wearing my black hair tie and my boots in this ensemble, but the blue coat is a big step outside the crayon box for me!
The red coat didn't have a maker's tag (not even a tiny union one...I think it may have been homemade by a very capable seamstress), but this one has "Youthcraft" on a silk label at the nape of the neck.
This green coat I found in Gallatin with Eartha weekend before last-- I was wearing the red coat and tried to hang it on a leaf blower in a garage so I could try it on, but Eartha snatched my already owned coat up from its perch. "I'm gonna keep you classy if it kills me!" she said, and I second guessed my in-the-field tactic of dumping my coat wherever. There were two in the garage of this house, both marked I think $8, but the white one, in a very similar style, had moth's holes. The green one was intact, though heavily rumpled; after a pressing at the cleaner's, it looks good as new! See the crazy, extreme mink collar:
And the moss green color, which reminds me of Tippi Hedren's suit in The Birds. I can't decide if I like the collar better open or closed-- even though my shoulders aren't very wide, the capelet effect of the collar almost makes it look like it's too small for me when done up:
And ignore the messy flyaways, it had been a hard day's night when we took these pictures...what do you think? Better open or closed?
The only label on this one is this "Hockanum Fabric" by Stevens Fabric label...how cute is it?!
Last but not least, this white coat technically counts as a coat-of-color, as it is not black, in my book. This was from an estate sale in Forest Acres in April of 2012! I wore it once to the flea market that year and probably not since, so I've been trying to incorporate it into the outerwear rotation more (especially now that it's not hidden at the back of the closet behind some random army surplus stuff...old habits die hard). Because I am apparently obsessed with style inspiration from Hitchcock pictures, I associate white coats with Kim Novak in this one, from the movie Vertigo. With a black sweater underneath, it's easy to bridge the gap between where-the-sleeves-end and where-my-wrists-actually-are (this is decidedly not a jewelry-showing-off-length sleeve, it's just too short on my monkey arms!). On the other coats, which have similar "What do you do about the bare expanse of skin in these winter months!", I've actually stock piled four or five pair of cloth, elbow length gloves (LIKE what Novak is wearing in the photo! I KNEW I wasn't crazy), to keep my arms warm in these elbow-ending sleeves!
This is a Forstmann wool called "Ermina" (which is what I should name one of my children), distributed by "Louis Goldstein, New York". The maker's label is from Grace's, which was an upscale women's shop in Nashville that ran at least until 2008. I thought it was still around! I am disturbed to find its website defunct and no mention of it on Google maps outside of Grace's Plaza, a shopping complex down the road and owned by the same family...you can see the archived version of their old website, with history on the brand, here. Well, at least I snapped this one up while I could, I guess!
Anyway! What do you think of my coats of many colors? Do you have any outerwear that is a particular favorite, or a coat that makes you feel like a movie star every time you wear it? Have any style tips you'd like to share about vintage winter clothes? Let's talk!
That's all for today, but I'll see you back here tomorrow (if I live through this work day, eugh, nerves are being worked!!). ENJOY THE SUNSHINE! Til then.