Fashion is a Two-Faced Bitch: Demented Coats

I bought a coat a couple years back from one of those snooty lady stores. It’s a long, black puffer coat; a classic. It was deeply discounted. I tried it on, zipped it up, tied the belt, and it was perfect. It wasn’t “The Warmest Coat Lands End Sells”, no, that was a whole different drama, but it was cozy, feminine and attractive, if you like that woman-dressed-as-a-stack-of-Michelin-tires look. In January, that is my preferred look. This coat and I are going to get along just great, I thought.

That was before I realized that my new coat has dementia. It must have been sitting in a back storeroom for a decade before I rescued it. I know that fashion, in general, is uncooperative and dedicated to killing any self-esteem your parents have managed to instill. Haven’t I been telling you that for years? But this coat is not like that. This coat is sweet like your grandma. Also, possibly like your grandma, it can’t remember what it came into the room for. Unlike your grandma, it doesn’t have the capacity to buy your love with home baked cookies, although you might find a stray but still edible Sour Patch Kid or two if you dig around in the pockets. My rule about Sour Patch Kids is that it doesn’t matter where you find them, they are edible because the sour stuff kills bacteria.

But I digress. Anyways..

This coat can’t remember how its own zipper works. It is maddening, I’m telling you. In the store that zipper worked like a charm. On the coldest night in February, during an ice storm when I was, for inexplicable reasons, walking around Boston with my family, I couldn’t coax the zipper to zip. You see, the zipper is the brain of a coat-it is the part of the coat that makes all the other parts work. Without a zipper your coat is just a blanket with arm holes. The next time I put it on, it zipped up easy peasy. And the next time it wouldn’t. And then it would. And so on, and so forth, to this day. It’s not really the coat’s fault anymore than it’s grandma’s fault that she doesn’t know who you are some days. But what to do? I don’t want to throw the coat out. It’s still a good coat and it still works half the time. We’ve had to compromise, the grandma coat and I. On days when it is feeling well and there’s no ice storm in the forecast, I  take it out for lunch and if it suddenly forgets how to zip itself, I tie it at the waist and pretend it’s an eccentric fashion statement. I’m old enough to get away with that now. On days when the weather takes a turn for the worse, the grandma coat stays home, I don’t care if that zipper is flying up and down like Fred Astaire on steroids. When the weather is bad you need a bad ass coat, a reliable tool. When the weather is bad I turn to The Warmest Coat Lands End Sells, fashion be damned.

What tricks have your clothes been playing on you lately?

Chicken out


bad ass











black coat


  17 comments for “Fashion is a Two-Faced Bitch: Demented Coats

  1. December 1, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Zippers are integral, like pockets. I hate finding a lovely, lovely coat, like LL Bean’s barn coat–with no zipper. Or, a bitchy zipper, like yours, on a pretty cool coat. I found a tailor who will handle either situation, and I pay a lot and tip her well, too.


    • December 1, 2017 at 6:51 pm

      I guess I need to find a good tailor, too! I’ll show that zipper who’s boss!


  2. December 1, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    I bought a grandma-looking (but also new-looking) quilted coat at a thrift store a couple years ago. Unfortunately, it had a habit of setting off the exit door alarms at big box stores. Now that’s a bad ass grandma coat!

    After about the third time I had to have my shopping bags and receipts searched, I went home and the hubs and I looked for what might be causing it. He finally found a small anti-theft wire deep in one of the side seams, such that we needed a seam ripper to surgically remove it. Problem solved.

    Maybe you could have the zipper replaced by the local dry cleaners? (That’s who does stuff like that here, anyway.)


    • December 1, 2017 at 6:53 pm

      I could. I should. In all likelihood I never will:-) I can’t believe they his the wire inside the seam. That’s ridiculous. I’ve had that happen to me but it’s usually just a tag that I need to cut out.


  3. jenny_o
    December 1, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    You’ve probably already tried the candle or bar of soap on the teeth, right? the zipper teeth, not your own, of course . . . if the problem is getting the thingy seated in the opposite side thingy, to get the zipper started, and if the coat is worth it to you, yes the zipper can be replaced. I heart your clothing posts.


    • December 1, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      I heart you:-) So the common theme I’m hearing here is that I need to stop whining about my coat and get the zipper replaced already. But you know, then the coat won’t be such a good value…is it worth it? Or maybe I just wear it when it works. When it was first happening, I assumed it was just a muscle memory thing and that eventually, my hands would know the little positioning trick that would get it to slide easily into place each time. That’s turned out not to be the case. All this time later and I still can’t figure out the trick. That’s why I think it’s demented. Question: Are people with dementia demented? Because, to me, demented has always meant crazy and dimentia has always meant memory loss, but they seem to belong together, don’t they? I know Google could probably answer this question but I’d rather ask you, Jenny, since you are right here and so smart.


      • jenny_o
        December 2, 2017 at 1:22 am

        Hahahaha – if you think that you are either demented or have dementia 😀


      • December 2, 2017 at 1:59 pm

        Sadly, I am both.


  4. Doug in Oakland
    December 1, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    I used to have a Browning goose down jacket I inherited from my mom, and it was the warmest coat I ever wore. The zipper was a large, heavy-duty sort of affair, and quite sturdy looking.
    It broke. Sort of. The ends got uneven and a tooth fell out, and it got to be very tricky to get it to zip up. Then one day, the middle of the zipper just came undone. As in not zipped any more undone.
    Right about that time we bought our motorcycle, though, and I replaced it with a black leather jacket, which while not as warm, would protect my skin from abrasion should I fall off of said motorcycle.
    I still have a black leather jacket, although I can no longer ride a motorcycle and don’t need it for those reasons.
    I don’t remember what became of the Browning jacket, but I suspect that it didn’t make the cut when we moved from our house on 62ond street in ’88.
    I did consider replacing the zipper, as it was a very warm coat, but I never did.


    • December 1, 2017 at 11:14 pm

      I have a theory that only super humans actually get around to replacing zippers. Like Joanne, probably-I think she’d get it done. Same with shoes. I always intend to take my shoes into the shoe guy, what do you call that guy? Do they still call them cobblers? Anyways, I never do actually get them to the shoe guy and then I’ll go on a cleaning frenzy and donate them. You still miss that coat, don’t you? I still miss my Columbia sweater, my 5 button levis that I was handed down from the friend of a friend, my Loft jeans, and two pairs of brown corduroys, one of which was borrowed permanently, or stolen, you could say. The rest of those things I wore to such holiness that I could no longer wear them in public. I threw them out when I caught myself wearing them anyway. I tried a new trick, though, with my favorite black long-sleeved tee. It had a big hole in the elbow and I thought, oh no, I’m going to have to throw it out, but no. I didn’t. I cut the sleeves off. Now it’s a t-shirt. Not a very good-looking one, but very comfortable. If I had a black leather jacket, I would wear it with the black t-shirt and I bet it would look good. I don’t have one yet.


      • Doug in Oakland
        December 2, 2017 at 1:56 am

        My friend Sara’s old boyfriend Trevor, the one who used to live in Truckee, works on sailboats for a living. He had an entire room in his house dedicated to sewing, because sails, and while I was visiting he replaced the zipper in the bag I keep my bedding in, and mended a really long tear alongside the zipper.
        That’s the only zipper I can think of that I ever got replaced.
        It was very nice of him, and he did a fantastic job.

        Liked by 1 person

      • December 2, 2017 at 2:01 pm

        Wow, I can see Sara’s attraction to him. He’s handy!


  5. Geo.
    December 2, 2017 at 5:35 am

    Re: “I don’t want to throw the coat out. It’s still a good coat and it still works half the time,” This is very close to what Norma says about me. She’s adamant about my nourishment and medical care. Says she’s going to fix me up a little more, then sell me. Enjoyable post!


    • December 2, 2017 at 1:50 pm

      I think, Geo, that if/when Norma is ready to share you, there will be a major bidding war:-)


  6. December 2, 2017 at 11:00 am

    I hate buying coats. I never seem to find exactly what I want. Then I forget to take there with me when the weather is funky and suddenly drops 15 degrees. I’m looking for a decent rain coat now. I want a hood. Need a hood. Must have a hood.


    • December 2, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      Hi Bella-I like to buy them but I have to have some sort of plan. I get overwhelmed if I don’t have an idea of what I want. But you know-you want a rain coat and it must have a hood. That’s half the battle. Now you need to decide whether it should be something you can wear over dressy clothes or strictly utilitarian. I needed a trench coat I could wear for work and snagged a used Burberry on eBay. There are some reputable dealers and they are coats you hang onto for a lifetime. If you need something more utilitarian, you have more choices. Good luck!


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