Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sugar Coated

Despite my seemingly endless online purchases of late - as Xmas gifts (I work on the premise of 1 gift for you, one gift for me) etc., there are two things I needed to buy this season: boots (check) and a new winter coat.

My go-to winter coat has (so sadly, since I continue to love it) really seen its last wear. It's a first-edition Soia & Kyo, back when they did strange shapes and closures. Mine is made in a dense, waffle-weave wool in winter white (ha!) with beautiful drape and a funnel meets shawl neck. The colour goes so well with my pale, blond, green-eyed complexion. This coat is also fairly light, in the scheme of winter wear. The older I get (yeah, this is one of those sentences), the less inclined I am to reach for one of my stylin' heavy coats. Who has the interest to carry 20 extra pounds on a 45 minute walk?

Thing is, and bear with me here as I milk this story for as long as possible, I didn't think I was going to find both of my "need" items within the same 24 hours, especially as I'm not in-store-shopping this year and a coat is an investment I feel warrants buying only after trying.

My friend, Sandra, and I went to Terroni on Queen West for dinner last night. Usually I only eat at Terroni for lunch (I feel it's a better meal), but we gave it a go and we both think this ristorante institution has upped its game lately. Interesting side note: This is the restaurant where Scott and I dined on our second date in 1995?! Twenty years after opening, this place is always fantastically busy. After 7pm you'll wait in line for an hour. Last night was no exception, though we avoided this by arriving at 6:55. We sat next to a mum and her incredibly cute, 2-month old baby named Astrid. Other side note: I'm always amazed by how so many people bring their kids out for "late" dinner to incredibly noisy places. As we were leaving we saw a young boy (5ish) and his parents waiting at the back of the queue. I can't imagine that would have been a fun time for any of those peeps. Am I totally boring/old school and the only person who wouldn't even consider doing this? I mean, I won't even wait in line without a kid, much less with one. Anyway, hipster kids have mettle, apparently.

Sandra and I chose to walk to the restaurant, which gave us an opportunity to window shop along much of the length of Queen Street, going west. What with my current lack of fortitude for crowds, it was not my intention to stop in anywhere.

We stopped in everywhere.

On the plus side, everyone I know got an extra present. On the other plus side, I bought the most INCREDIBLE winter coat. (If only global warming weren't leaving us with plus zero rainy days most of the time, but that's another discussion.)

OK, here's the story: A gorgeous boutique, named V, opened 3 weeks ago and is the latest brainchild of Kaelan Sullivan (she of 69 Vintage). Kaelan is one of those people you really have to meet to believe. Seriously, for a brief moment I wanted to get all flexible with my sexual orientation and leave my regular life behind. (Note: I have no idea of her sexual orientation - I'm speaking only for myself!)

At any rate, we walked into this store, largely populated by elegant fur and old military wear, and I had to try on. I had no intention of buying a fur coat, I swear. But the first on I put on (winter white, hip-length mink and fox) looked so fucking awesome on me (really, like Candice Bergen in 1977) that I knew it was gonna be a hard walk. This fur most definitely would have cost thousands of dollars in its day. Alas, it was not inexpensive in its current incarnation.

A few facts:
  • Most, if not all of the fur at V, is vintage dead stock from the Hudson Bay Company furrier cold storage. That means its been unworn and living in perfect conditions for upwards of 50 years. You could find any of these coats at Holt Renfrew (but for their styles, reminiscent of their eras), that's the kind of perfect shape they're in.
  • The shop-collection is beautifully curated. Lady-like offerings from the 50s are interspersed with crazy ewok bombers from the 80s. And dresses and muffs and military boots.
  • My coat is of a transitional era - the late 70s (by my own estimation). It heralds the "bigness" of the coming decade and it's incredibly practical i.e. reversible! The alternate side is made of taupe fabric and the fox collar (that runs down the entire length of the coat) is beautifully visible from both sides. This was the style for a working woman, albeit a rich one.
  • It weighs approximately 4 oz. OK, I don't know how much it really weighs but I don't know that I've ever felt a coat this light, much less one that wears like a portable furnace.
  • Sandra and I had a debate about this, but I do not think this is a coat for a younger woman. Sandra said that age is not a factor in wearing beautiful clothing, one's personal style is the defining element. OK, her argument sounds better than mine, so I'll say that I could not have worn this when I was younger. It's VERY luxe.
Back to the bottom line... My aim was to bargain, respectfully - this is one of my special life skills - but it didn't quite go as planned. See, the coat was mismarked (having just come back from a photo shoot). It was wearing the tag of its neighbour (a totally different animal, literally), a fact that would most likely have gone unnoticed if no one had started asking questions. I should have realized it. My coat was of a much higher quality than the price tag would have led me to believe. But, given that I was in a vintage boutique, I thought I was getting lucky.

The coat I wanted was actually hundreds of dollars more than the (wrong) tag had led me to believe. And cost on that original tag was high enough to have me angling for a discount. Egad.

Kristin of an earlier era would have left that coat behind. She had less money, sure, but more to the point, she didn't understand the most valuable of life lessons: When the shopping goddess throws you a fucking gorgeous, totally practical, incredibly flattering, completely unique, REVERSIBLE freakin' vintage fur coat that weighs no more than a cloud, you buy it.

In the words of my mother: Pay a lot for quality, cry once. Buy cheap, cry forever.

Last time I applied this principle, I got the most gorgeous wood floor anybody's ever seen and I only ever consider the price in terms of how smart I was to say fuck it, we're buying this.

My negotiation skills got me the coat for the same amount as shown on the original tag, still at the very, very, very upper limit of my comfort level, but far better than the coat's actual price which would truly have put it out of the running. I do have to prioritize many purchases in my life (not that my current purchasing habits would lead you to believe this), especially at this time of the year.

I will only show a photo of this coat on me - it's nothing on the hanger, IMO. When worn by me, however, I'm some sassy, second-wave feminist executive with a Swedish husband who looks like a Ken doll and a ski chalet at Whistler. It's quite a life, let me tell you. :-)

22 comments:

  1. I think one of the pleasures of not being 23 any more is that you recognise that sometimes you really just have to bite the bullet and pay the money. Cheap doesn't always mean value. I can't wait to see this coat.
    And I'm with you...at 7pm the kids are tucked up in bed, and even if they weren't we wouldn't be heading out for dinner!

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    1. Amen, sistah! And late night and kids are such a recipe for disaster - you know when it all disintegrates and everyone starts freaking out?

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  2. I can't wait to see the coat - and I'm off to Melrose avenue for a bootspree today:)

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  3. You are such a tease! Can't wait to we the gorgeous coat!

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  4. You really do know how to milk a story (and yes, get a sitter for those kids, geez!)
    So when you're settled into the Whistler condo (or is that a 7000sq. ft. log chalet?), give me a shout -- I'll drive up for lunch so we can finally meet. Folks will puzzle about why you're slumming with me. . . .;-)

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  5. Ha! It's the chalet, natch. :-) But not 7000 square feet. 3500 is all I need to host my biannual fondue party. You'd be the first one I'd call!

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  6. Pictures! Where are the pictures?

    You are such a tease.

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    1. I hope they'll come soon. Gotta have this endless rain stop first.

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  7. No fair!!! Where are the pictures? Can't wait to see you enjoying the heck out of your new coat and boots :)

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    1. Oh, I'm gonna be such a fancy lady! :-)

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  8. This sounds exquisite... and like something I'm not quite ready to wear yet. I can't wait to see it on you, though. I've had a really hard time Christmas shopping this year---it seems like every time I turn around I'm bemoaning the lack of quality in the stuff I can afford.

    Also, I will confess to being that person who hauled their children around at all hours of the day/night when they were small. They were deliciously portable---when they got tired, they'd just plop themselves over and sleep on a seat, or even in the middle of a plate. Early bedtime wasn't nearly such an issue in the days of the Nap... they never went to bed until I did, until grade school. I know there are plenty of children out there who get overstimulated/cranky/unbearable out among crowds... I just didn't have that kind. I'd say it's only in the last year or two that they've regained the level of portability they had when they were very small...

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    1. You are way too young for this coat, honey :-) I guess it really does depend on the nature of the child (and the parent, in truth) when it comes to taking kids to restaurants at night. I mean, I'm home by 9 come hell or high water, so I'm hardly the yardstick for the urban nightlife parent. My kid goes to bed later than me most nights.

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  9. Clearly I don't have a hipster kid. My son is very tolerant, but there's limits and I tend to avoid pushing them whenever possible.

    I can't wait to see this paragon of coat awesomeness! :-)

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    1. Oh, I really hope I haven't oversold it! :-) (I don't think I have...)

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  10. I love that quote from your mother about quality - so true!

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  11. Hello KM
    Where, pray do tell, are photos of this coat!? The suspense really is killing me!
    CD

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    1. I've been very remiss! Over the hols I'll take pics. Till then, I don't know that I'll have an opportunity as there is SO much going on. :-)

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