About eight years ago, I bought an awesome jacket.
Before then, my jackets and coats were always shapeless and plain. As long as they kept me warm, what did I care? But that year I was skinny and started paying more attention to the way I dressed. Low-waisted pants looked better on me, as did fitted shirts. I started to eschew larger sizes for clothes that actually fit.
I found the jacket randomly while shopping with my mom. It was an Extra Small and the very last one in that style, but I tried it on anyway.
“It’s so cute!” I immediately proclaimed to my reflection. It emphasized my small waist and flared out subtly to my knees. Plus it was on sale. The clerk didn’t even know how much on sale, but because there was a small rip in the lining, she gave it to me for $20. Twenty bucks for a $100 jacket.
Over the years, I’ve gotten lots of compliments for it. The first time my friend YP saw it, he proclaimed, “You gave yourself a What Not to Wear!” A random woman on a train to Boston asked me, “Where did you get that jacket?” and I had to tell her it was probably the last one ever made. Once a random hobo yelled out, “Nice jacket!” as I walked by. And I swear the time I saw Clinton Kelly on East 42nd Street (speaking of WNTW), he gave the jacket an approving nod.
This is gross, but in all those eight years, I never got my jacket cleaned. It’s black so no dirt showed up, and I only wore it when the weather was cool so it didn’t smell. In all those eight years, it looked brand spanking new.
Till last year when I finally brought it to the cleaners. When I got it back, it didn’t look like the same jacket. The material is this strange “micro-fiber” (whatever that means) and I think the cleaners didn’t know what to do with it. As a result, it came back wrinkled, bubbled, and discolored in some places. There was already that rip in the lining, but after the cleaning, the lining seemed even more delicate. After all those years of no additional tears, in the last year, I suddenly obtained several more, as well as a hole in my pocket. Whenever I put my hand in my pocket, the hole tore like paper.
I felt like the whole thing was disintegrating, as though those eight years of NYC dirt and grime were holding it together. In reality, probably the harsh cleaning chemicals (although the tag said clearly, Dry Clean Only) removed the protective waterproof layer.
Then the last straw: I lost a button. Sure, I could get another button, or I could get another jacket.
Which I finally did.
After a few weeks of freezing in a hoodie or roasting in my winter coat, yesterday I finally bought a new jacket – two, in fact. A sort-of fall jacket and a light raincoat, on sale.
Neither are as styling as my old jacket, but at least they’re not falling apart.