After the fall presentations and buying appointments in New York last month, I got to the snow-covered airport in Newark and waited nearly seven hours for my flight to leave. My misery needed no company and yet, like a bubble rising to the surface, I kept thinking about a coat from one of the shows. It was a felted virgin wool trench coat from Theory, replete with epaulettes, right shoulder gun flap, oversized lapels and big, round, tonal buttons. Its fuzzy, bulky yarns blurred the sharp, nipped-in lines and made the coat look as if it were a little out of focus. And while the contrast in the texture itself made the coat feel reinvented and new, it was the color that continued to inject its presence into my thoughts.
It was an ultra-diluted and dim-toned salmon pink — the color you might get if you were using watercolor paints and cleaned your brush after red, then white, then gray, then white again and finally the tiniest dot of yellow.
It was the subversion and defaming of the iconic and sacred pastel baby pink, but more than that, it seemed to rebel against winter.
For the entirety of my trip, I wrapped myself in bulky layer under bulky layer, trying to ignore, hide and run from the unmerciful wind. Someone told me the temperatures that weekend broke a 100-year-old record. And yet this trench coat instantly made the winter seem so different. The person who wore this coat didn’t live through unyielding, cruel winters. In fact, the owner of this coat lived in a place where perforated kid gloves kept your hands warm, your cashmere scarf stayed perfectly styled, and you could walk the whole day in the snow without one water spot blemishing your suede pumps. It was a place where the condensation from your breath formed into shapes of cherubs and kind words, and the only precipitation that fell was downy, cotton puffs of snow.
But the underbelly of that idyllic image was the slight shifting of color, which took the coat out of the childlike insouciance to cool, sophisticated and complex. It was a coat of generations past, reformulating itself to become faster, newer, more worldly and proficient. It was sentimental, but ambitious; soft, but forceful. And unfortunately for me, a new perspective on a winter trench coat was last thing I was looking for, and yet here it was. It was all I could think about.
It reminded me that fashion can sometimes be the bad boyfriend. He will always sweep you off your feet, spoil you and inspire both copacetic and discontented thoughts. Try as he may for a while to be consistent and domesticated, he’s not. You know he’s moody, whimsical, self-centered and deathly afraid of commitment. But that is in part what draws you to him and is also the reason you always try to leave him for a saner, practical relationship. He will always be what you want, not what you need.
I finally got home about 12 hours later and decided not to order the trench coat. In this case, I could not bear for the idealized to become real. I didn’t want to deal with possible fit issues, production delays, repairing buttons, people asking me how to remove stains and having to — God forbid — put it on sale. I felt I should walk away in order to preserve my dream. The pale salmon-colored glasses would stay firmly in place, at least for another season.