Thursday, January 26, 2012

Life's Lost Little Luxuries #6: The Spring Coat

It was this kind of day.
Houston is either hot or cold. So it was a rare treat today that it felt like Spring— clear, sunny skies with a crispness in the air, weeds greening in my front yard. It brought to mind the Annual Purchase of the Spring Coat. This may have been fashion's way of shedding skins. We didn't know about layers then in northern Ohio. The winter coat was one garment that felt as if you were wearing another person. It kept you warm, supposedly, once you learned to walk in it. The spring coat was that transition piece between seasons. Of course in Ohio it could snow one week and hit 80 the next.

Although it was needed rarely, every Spring called for a spring coat. Because I wore it so infrequently, and then only for dress-up occasions, I really don't remember the spring coats of my childhood. I do remember one because it was such a horror. The shopping experience elicited a major battle of wills between my mother and me. I won but got what I wished for— a bilious green fluffy "topper" rather than the classically styled red wool "car coat" of my mother's choosing. Never mind that mint green is a hot color this year. I'll bet there's minimal bile in it. I wore the green monster (as little as possible) for one season. Mercifully my mother made it disappear. I've secretly lusted for that red coat since, and one spring day may indeed find it again.
It was worse than this.
The spring coat ritual stopped when the raincoat took over. By the late '50s - early '60s the toppers that begat car coats begat raincoats that begat (and are still producing) umpteen versions of the trench coat. Practical, flattering and long-lasting, the trench coat killed the spring coat. While the goal has always been to own the genuine Burberry article, I never have. My money has been spent on cheap imitations,  studiously avoiding the iconic plaid lining. If you were like me, an art student, you didn't clean it. The more beat it became, the more beatnik you appeared.

Audrey gave the trench coat her stylish stamp of approval.
Today the trench coat is still a wardrobe staple. It's available year round in a plethora of price points and style tweaks. It's still practical, flattering, long-lasting, and every gal should have one. But its purchase doesn't herald the earth's rebirth and the promise of daffodils.

The trench coat co-existing with daffodils

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