Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Severe Winter Fashion Emergency

Pretty Lady hereby declares a State of Emergency in Winter Outerwear, starting this very second. Please cease and desist wearing all full-length quilted nylon coats, in shades of Newcastle Black, Dirge Navy, Olive Drab, and Destitute Dun, immediately. Life is too short for this travesty.

For nobody ever nestled into a four-horse sleigh with seven of their closest friends, laughing all the way, wearing a black nylon overcoat. Nobody bursts through a doorway, lightly frosted with new-fallen snow, and declares, "Hark! It's time to put on the mulled cider!" sporting one of those things. Quilted nylon overcoats reek of dank, dire, grinding, lightless days without a spark of mitigating romance. They speak of endless slogs through gutters knee-deep in gray slush; they whisper of office coffee that tastes of burnt dishwater. Don a nylon quilted overcoat and you are donning an early, desperate middle age, of faded dreams and hopeless drudgery.

Pretty Lady turns a deaf ear to all your pleas of Poverty and Practicality, because she knows you bought those horrible things at Brooklyn Industries, which has perpetrated a most lucrative scam, in selling knockoffs of 1975 Salvation Army bin scrapings at designer prices. Shopping at Brooklyn Industries does not make you Hip and Edgy, it merely alerts the world that you are an immature poseur with no taste or originality, whose parents are still paying your bills.

And furthermore, those full-length quilted nylon atrocities would be no earthly good on either a ski slope or a farm, being too long for the former and too flimsy for the latter. If you want practicality, go to L.L. Bean, and stay there.

No, you must boycott Brooklyn Industries and go to the REAL Salvation Army, where you are assured of finding a range of cheerful and classic wool coats for under $75, half of what you paid for that hideous nylon rag you're wearing. As Pretty Lady looks through her own coat closet, she notes that she has a most attractive and deliciously snuggly coat or two for every occasion, none of which cost her anywhere near Brooklyn Industries prices. To wit:

• Vintage black cashmere lady coat with brown mink collar: purchased at the San Francisco Urban Outfitters in 1998 for $50. Worn to Sunday Brunch, the MOMA, and expeditions to photograph the windows at Bergdorf's.

• Royal blue full-length down coat in sueded microfiber with fur-trimmed hood and embroidered piping: purchased at outlet store on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, for $129. Frigid casual.

• Blue-gray wool army coat: a gift from the girls who moved out downstairs. Punk casual.

• Black microfiber three-season lined raincoat with black velvet hood: gift from Beloved Sister, who worried Pretty Lady might be cold. All-occasion.

• Black leather hourglass jacket with fake fur lining, cuffs and lapels: purchased at going-out-of-business sale in aforementioned Polish district, $50. Warmer-than-frigid casual.

• Antique mink three-quarter length coat: most generous gift from the mother of a very dear old friend. Pretty Lady hasn't quite figured out what to do with this one yet, but she'll wear anything in Chelsea.

• Mink jacket: ditto. She has experimentally been wearing these to brunch; they draw quite the looks in Brooklyn.

• Floor-length white alpaca coat with gargantuan white chinchilla collar and cuffs: inherited from Glamorous Aunt. Pretty Lady really can't wait for the occasion which merits the wearing of this; perhaps a Whitney retrospective is in her future. Or maybe she'll throw it over jeans and cowboy boots and go fake out some pretentious Chelsea art dealer.

• For the gentlemen, all that is necessary is a leather bomber jacket for casual, and a long black wool for formal. As Pretty Lady's Gentleman Friend understands, being an Italian who knows about these things.

With all these myriad options, Pretty Lady has not yet even purchased any of the Satirical Plaid or Artsy Brocade numbers which she regularly finds in thrift stores; there are plenty left out there for the rest of you. Indeed, warm winter outerwear which expresses Wit, Cozy Good Cheer and Edgy Originality, and does not include nylon, is nearly infinite. Pretty Lady trusts her words will be heeded, or she may have to go through the streets with a loaded sautering iron. Please do not force her to such extremes.

18 comments:

Susan Constanse said...

Next time you're in town, we'll have to go thrifting. I found this marvelous sweater, cashmere with silk and lace lining, 3/4 length sleeves, fur collar and rhinestone closure at a red white and blue. On sale for $3.50.

prettylady said...

Now that is what Pretty Lady is talking about!

BoysMom said...

I have three lovely wool coats, 2 waist length and 1 3/4 length. Royal blue, wine red, and beige respectively, and all were free.
Paired with a silk scarf, they do just fine in our frigid winters.

But I've torn the lining on the beige coat along the seams where the sleave attaches. I tried stitching it up and then promptly tore the stitches out. While I might be able to reline it myself, practicly speaking, I don't think I'd ever get it finished. The coat is older than I and I suspect the satin is just worn out. What questions do you think I should ask a potential seamstress? Or would I be wiser just to wait until the next time we visit my folks and take it to the gal who resized my grandmother's sixty year old wedding gown for me, knowing that winter will be over before she could possibly get it done because she's always got months of work waiting?

You ladies would both love our thrift store here. I picked up a cream wool skirt for $2, looks brand new. Though I haven't worn it anywhere yet, it seems a touch unpractical with the boys in tow, I couldn't pass it up. Besides, they'll grow up, but a nice skirt never ceases to be stylish. There are so many items there one could never go through them all.

Anonymous said...

Entertaining, but I can't say I completely agree with you. To my eye, the Brooklyn Industry nylon coats do not in fact place one in the position of entering into an early middle-age. Most of the people I see wearing them are, in fact, young and hip, and they accessorize them with fun hats and gloves.

The fact that you seem to equate this youthfulness and hipness with being both immature and a poseur sounds more than a bit bitter to me.

I do agree on the dearth of color choices, however. Sad that there is such a small selection to choose from.

I would also like to point out that the vast majority of people in these coats are NOT going to either ski slopes or farms, thereby rendering your diatribe on going to LL Bean for "practicality" instead moot. Also, have you actually seen the LL Bean site recently? Not so great on the outerwear for women.

I'll take looking at the visually interesting asymmetrical quilting of the BI coats anyday over the plain jane LL bean style.

Revisiting the subject of an early middle-age, I'm guessing you have already entered it b/c any truly stylish person in NYC knows that bomber jackets for men are a sad leftover from the 80's and 90's and a total giveaway that you're still stuck in those decades.

It is still possible to wear a bomber jacket and look contemporary but you REALLY have to know what you're doing style-wise to pull it off...being seeing as he's Italian, maybe your gentlman friend is one of the ones who can actually do this.

Chris Rywalt said...

I just bought me one of these.

Back when I didn't have a driver's license and got around mostly by bus, train, and ferry, I wore the long black wool coat after I got bored with wearing my old Army coat with the 1st Cav patch my dad gave me. In college I got a trenchcoat for rainy days, too. In the spring and fall I always fell back on my dad's old Vietnam Army jungle jacket.

But when cars started being important means of conveyance I found the trench and wool coats too long. There's a reason the car coat was invented.

A couple of years back my dad replaced my tattered Vietnam jacket with a new replica; very nice. My cold-weather coat was disintegrating, though, so I went looking for another Army surplus jacket like my old 1st Cav. Army surplus stores are an endangered species these days, did you know that? I found the Carhartt in a sporting goods (read: guns and arrows) store looking for Army/Navy stuff. I've been thrilled with it. It makes me look like a longshoreman.

Chris Rywalt said...

By the way, Anon: Anyone wearing one of those nylon monstrosities clearly doesn't remember the 1980s. Anyone remembering the 1980s would rather be naked and pecked to death by puffins.

But then anyone who remembers the 1980s wouldn't wear those Ugg boots, either, and just yesterday I made my first sighting of actual leg warmers in nearly two decades. So kids today will clearly wear anything.

EN said...

I remember Fee Waybill of the Tubes wearing a full length one of these while doing "Sushi Girl".

I must tell you that every woman in Northern Italy wears one of these things, mostly in Navy. Many a woman dressed like that made my teeth ache in desire. Of course it also happened when they weren't wearing one of those things.

I wear this daily
http://www.filson.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2092526&cp=2069836.2069837.2075070&view=all&parentPage=family
and this in rain and snow
http://www.filson.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2092335&cp=2069836.2069837.2075070&view=all&parentPage=family

Anonymous said...

A fashion post, I love it! I do have one of those quilted Nylon long coats, though mine is from Lands End (they are like LL Bean if anyone doesn't know) and with -40 degree comfort warmth rating, necessary for Alaska and Colorado and Minnesota and other places I spend winters. And then I have a mid length black wool walking coat, and that's it! I actively RESENT things that require dry cleaning, as well as things that hold onto pet hair. You should give us a post on winter boots and shoes too. :)

prettylady said...

Anon #1, thank you for providing a perfect example of how an immature poseur thinks. 'Everyone wearing them is young and hip,' indeed. I strongly suspect, as Chris does, that you are in need of a bit of education in not looking like an 80's refugee.

Boysmom, a good and affordable seamstress is worth her weight in gold, and I have never known one who did not take months to work her magic.

EN, Italian women, like French women, look good in anything, up to and including burlap sacks. This is simply not true of American women, and it is unkind of you to rub our faces in this fact. America is the Land of Individual Industriousness in Transcending Genetic Style Limitations.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, well I did not in fact say "Everyone wearing them is young and hip." You are misquoting me to your own advantage. Might I suggest that if you're going to quote someone using actual quotation marks, you do so accurately, since that is in fact what quotes are supposed to represent - accuracy.

I did, however, say, "MOST of the people I see wearing them are young and hip." And I stand by it. It is my opinion. They do not look like 80's fashion victims to me and I have an excellent idea of what 80's fashion victims look like, having both lived through it in the past and being a fashion stylist whose business it is to know such things in the present.

Oh, and by the way, just for clarity's sake, there is nothing about my look that harkens back to the 80's, refugee or otherwise. I didn't like the 80's look then, and I don't like it now.

We certainly do not have to agree about this, you have your opinion and I have mine. But a misquote is not something I can quietly let slide by...

and I also stand by what I said about your seeming more than a bit bitter about youthfulness and hipness.

prettylady said...

Anon, people who become aggressive, pejorative and nit-picky about frivolous fashion posts, the tongue-in-cheekiness of which ought to be staggeringly obvious, are immature by definition. Please take your gamma attitude elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

It's always both kinda hilarious and awfully sad when someone who dishes out arrogant criticism so easily can't take being disagreed with at all.

And it was the very apparent and weird aggression of YOUR response to my first post that made me feel that to be misquoted by someone clearly looking only to insult someone who dared disagree with her needed a response.

Trust me, I won't bother in the future. I perused some of your posts and while some of them are entertaining, the same arrogance and critical attitude permeates them all.

prettylady said...

while some of them are entertaining, the same arrogance and critical attitude permeates them all.

Yes, it does. Your point?

BoysMom said...

Oh, Mercedes is worth MUCH more than her weight in gold. Of course, she is a tiny little thing . . .
It would probably only take her a day or two to do the actual work, it's the months of backlog she has that eat time. Which translates to not having the coat back to wear for the rest of the winter. Maybe I'll just wait until May to get it done.
She did the work on the wedding gown in less than a week, including two fittings. (It took a half an hour to do up the buttons, or to undo the buttons.)

Desert Cat said...

Anonymous, anonymous, what you're so sadly missing is that is part of the CHARM of Pretty Lady!

k said...

Anonymous appears to be missing a great deal, poor thing!

k said...

NOTE: I tried to post this comment a few days ago, but the Comment Ogre kept eating it. Said Ogre seems to have slithered back under the bridge, so here we go now.


Anonymous, surely I'm biased, feeling a powerful regard, respect, and fondness for Pretty Lady; and knowing nothing whatsoever of Anonymous, which of course is often the point of being Anonymous in the first place.

Yet even stepping back and calling up a nice big dose of objectivity, I see no general or specific bitterness in Pretty Lady's lighthearted post. Instead, oddly enough, bitterness does seem present in your comments. No - actually, it thoroughly permeates them.

Whatever for? What a waste of time and emotion! Blech!

Anonymous said...

Bomber jackets have their history in the 1940s and 50s.
Just as the 70s were all about the 20s and 30s, the 80s were often about the 40s. Check out the shoulder pads and then look back.

Same with Eisenhower. It most definitely is possible to still wear one - especially if you had a real one! And could, of course, fit into it, and look like you've got some chutzpah.

I don't know if Brooklyn made them or not, but I do know that they were all made by United Garment Workers, when people made a living wage. The best clothes too - indestructable. No matter who wears them!

Great to have a fashion post, Pretty Lady.
Eva