Not the October just gone but they one before, I fell in love with a coat.
It was the most beautiful, soft, ruby red coat, made from wool and cashmere and from a very fabulous Italian label that is known for making excellent coats.
I very nearly bought it. I posted on Facebook and Instagram about it, and many more people joined in the discussion than I had expected.
It would have cost me a fortune, far more than I would normally spend on a coat, and far far more than I ever thought I would even think about spending on a coat, if that all makes sense.
I had not longed for something in this way since I saw a grey metallic leopard print Mulberry handbag in 2008, (which was a similar price to this coat). I couldn’t afford that handbag, and I couldn’t afford this coat.
Well. I could afford it if I didn’t buy any other clothing or shoes that year. I don’t spend a huge amount on either of those, so I decided I could have it IF I was really sure I wanted it.
But I wasn’t.
After a lot of thought, I realised that rather than wanting the coat, what I actually wanted was to be the sort of person who would wear that coat.
Someone with long glossy hair, with a beautiful handbag, who always looked effortlessly Done, with an elegant scraped back ponytail and done-but-not-Done makeup, who looked good in skinny jeans and could buy normal sized knee length boots because they didn’t have legs like tree trunks. Someone like my old boss from years ago when I worked in the fabric shop and who had one of these coats but in the classic colour (which I am not a massive fan of).
Someone like Carla Connor. I am a huge Coronation Street fan and Carla Connor is my favourite, as a character and as a style icon. (She’d wear this coat in black though).
I have loved clothes and fashion ever since I was a child, thanks to my Gran on my Dad’s side who always insisted we watch The Clothes Show when she came to visit. Her thing was embroidery, and she taught me so many different stitches, and most importantly, she gave me an eye and a feel for beautiful things.
And yet, when I leave the house to go to work, or to do anything that isn’t playing the harp or running, I feel like a total shambles. There’s a huge disconnect between what is in front of me in the mirror and what is in my own head, which is still an overweight child with horrendous thick glasses.
Combined with that image, for a long time, I’ve been trying to clear some pretty large debts that were incurred following a divorce, a disastrous house sale,and then the purchase of more than one harp. I’ve always managed to stay in a decent day job that has allowed me to deal with all this and avoid financial ruin, but one of the things that has suffered has been how I feel about myself and particularly about my physical appearance.
It doesn’t take a lot of money to look good, and I manage to look fine on not much money at all really (apart from a bit of a weakness for good skincare). But I always feel this is the area where I have to compromise, and I don’t like it so I am going to change it. I wish I could use my clothes as a bit more of an expression of my personality, rather than just as outerwear to ensure I am decent for whatever the task in hand might be.
And so, I found a perfectly sensible decent plain black coat for 5% of what the beautiful coat would have cost me, and I’ve worn that since, and every time I’ve felt sad because it wasn’t the beautiful coat but it was the sensible option.
I listened to a wonderful podcast a couple of weeks ago while I was running, and I had that glorious feeling where you think the person is talking just to you. It featured someone who is a fashion history expert while being in recovery from an eating disorder. It has helped me to work a few things over in my head about clothes, how I feel when I get dressed, and what I love versus what I wear.
The clothes I often choose to buy and rarely wear are dramatic, extrovert, sparkly and/or brightly coloured and/or wildly patterned. Somehow when it comes to getting dressed every day, these clothes are pushed to the back of the wardrobe in favour of safer options that are often approaching the end of their useful life.
This needs to change, it’s important to me and how I feel about myself. Fashion can be destructive of course, but it can also be a wonderful way to express creativity and have fun and enjoy beautiful things. I doubt I’ll be in the pages of Vogue any time soon, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what emerges when the spring comes.
I’ve still been dreaming of that damn coat and the person who would wear it, and so as a result I’ve been looking for something similar, and cheaper, ever since.
This week I found it, half price, the exact same label (although a cheaper line) and same colour, no cashmere, but with a better neckline and an eminently more affordable price tag.
My new coat has been dispatched and I can’t wait to try it on.
….But let’s not talk about the cobalt Mulberry Bayswater I saw a few weeks ago….