Monday, August 6, 2012

Coated in History

I did something today I never imagined doing. I parted ways with my favorite coat. I don't think it will hit me until it gets chilly. I am used to having this coat ready in my closet, an easy go-to piece that goes with everything. It fit me perfectly and our lives ran parallel for what seemed like forever.

10 years ago, when I was a senior in high school, money was tight. It was rare that I got to buy clothes.  I think my grandma felt sorry for me, and since we both liked thrift store shopping, she would save her cash and right before the school year, we would hit antique row in Pomona. Off 2nd street they have awesome vintage, thrift stores, antique shops, bars and art displays. My grandma had found a huge thrift store that only accepted cash but sold quality items. I would spend an hour or two digging through everything. It was there, at the back of the store, along the line of coats that I found this one. It fit me beautifully the moment I tried on it, and for $5 I was really happy.

I remember wearing it on rainy days in high school and getting compliments on it in church. I remember freaking out once in college because I suspected it was made of real fur and then getting over that fear when I realized vintage is vintage. Sometimes you don't know where something comes from, and for the sake of not letting it go to a landfill, you buy it and wear it, accepting its air of mystery.

More recently, my coat accompanied me on travels to Las Vegas, Temecula and San Francisco. We have seen Coit Tower and the Coppola Winery together. A year ago I noticed holes forming in the lining. I took it to my lovely dry cleaners to see if they could repair the damage. At this point I had also begun gluing the collar fabric back down. They tried their best, but holes kept appearing and it became apparent not enough glue would do the trick.

As the editor of Altered Couture, I read all the time about how people "saved" garments. And I love that that happens. However, I think there is a point in time when you need to realize that some things are just not salvageable. I thought and thought about this coat, but the more I looked it at, the more the holes stood out. It had survived so many winters, falls and nights on the town; rain and wind and falling on floors. Its time had come. It was time to let go. I knew I would have to rid of it in the summer, so I wouldn't be inclined to reach for it.

I cleaned out my closet Saturday and made a conscious effort to give away and sell many of the things I don't wear. I need to prepare for some upcoming trips and of course the holidays. The things I valued so much once, I no longer had room for. Whereas I used to never buy anything or have the money to, I had now over spent and maybe over indulged. This coat reminds me of what I have been through; of where I come from. It used to warm me as I spent my lunches and after school hours in the journalism room putting together the school paper. And it has been slung over my office chair this past winter as I now am at the helm of a more widely distributed publication. Seasons change; fashion changes; our bodies may even change. People evolve. But there are always those classic pieces. There will always be a time to let something go, to say goodbye, though it may never feel good. There is always time to start anew.

I remember my coat fondly in the pictures above. I encourage everyone who feels a special attachment to a piece to try to alter it into something new, before it is too late. While I will always love this garment that kept me warm and stayed with me through thick and thin, I look forward to what lies ahead; to finding diamonds in the shopping rough, digging deeper in my closet and to the inevitable change that awaits throughout the many seasons of this life.


  1. What a sweet story, thanks for sharing. It's tough to let go, but you have lots of memories & pictures!

  2. This post was very "The Giving Tree"! Beautiful writing and a beautiful story, thanks for sharing and a sad farewell to the coat!

  3. Great post Beth - really enjoyed seeing all the pics of you wearing your "cherished" coat! I know it must feel like you just gave away one of your best friends... looking forward to seeing what you find to replace it with.

  4. When I first met you you were wearing that coat and I thought....hmmmm she must be Italian! I loved your coat!!!
    Both Dean and I have few coats that we brought back from Italy, I think it's time for us too to make room in the closet. Ciao Rita

    1. hahahaha Rita, I looked Italian because of my coat? looking forward to seeing you soon!