I am an avid vintage clothing lover, and spend many hours haunting thrift stores in pursuit of those certain elusive sartorial treasures. I sell vintage clothing – the pieces I can bear to part with, that is. I collect vintage clothing – the pieces that I cannot wear but love to just have around to look at. And I wear vintage clothing – which can be especially hard to find because I am tall and statuesque (why did women in bygone eras all seem to be petite and stick thin?)
When I do happen to come across a vintage piece that I can actually wear, I am beyond thrilled. I am not one to dress in head-to-toe vintage, preferring to mix the modern with one vintage statement piece and maybe a vintage accessory or two. I like bold colors too. A lot of vintage tends towards the beige and gray, which I find a bit too drab for me.
Imagine my surprise, several years ago, when one sale day at a local thrift store I found a truly magnificent colorful wool coat on the racks. I checked the tag to see if it was the 99 cent color sale tag of the day, and sure enough it was. Upon further inspection I saw that it was a vintage 70s KENZO-PARIS, Made in France label – SWOON! SCORE!
The coat is, quite simply, amazing. It is mid-calf length, with side slits to the hip, V-neck collar, and straight-lined. In brilliant red wool, with green, fuchsia, and gold stripes in a large herringbone pattern; it has a vaguely ethnic, tribal feel to it. Lined in heavy red satin, it feels like pure luxury. Kenzo designed some incredible stuff in the ‘70s, one of my favorite fashion decades.
I was almost a bit scared to wear the coat for the first time. You see, I live in Seattle where people tend to dress in gray and black coats during winter. No one really stands out, seemingly blending in with the interminable gray days. But eventually I did get bold enough to wear it, figuring it was the Christmas season and I could get away with a little more festivity. And the resultant attention was almost more than I could handle.
“Nice coat!” shouted my neighbor; cars driving by honked and waved; perfect strangers came up to me and paid me compliments. A guy at the grocery store told me I looked like Joni Mitchell in my coat (it does have a folksy vibe). Lots of smiles, nods, winks, and thumbs-up from various passersby. The coat truly seems to have a magical effect, not only for me, but for whoever comes in contact with it.
Naturally, since it is a very warm coat, I wear it only in winter. And even then I wear it sparingly, mostly reserved for the holiday season or special occasion. For it is a serendipitous coat, a special coat. Not really meant for the mundane workaday world. And to be honest, I can’t take that much attention all the time, preferring a bit more subtlety. But when winter roars in and the gray clouds loom, and I do don the magnificent Kenzo coat, well, let the games begin!