January 05, 2010

New Vs. Old

I bought, I thought at the time, a classic winter coat.  I paid a lot for it - around $150 at a boutique known for its quality.  Even the brand marketed itself as quality.  It came with a removable fake fur collar.  Two looks for one!  I wore it for one or two winters.  It had problems.   Once I took off the fur collar, I could never get it back on due to the teeny tiny buttons and elastics.  But the worst - the worst - was that it almost immediately started to get pills, particularly where my arms met my torso.

Exhibit A and B:

 As you can see in the photo, I am holding the fur collar I could never re-attach.  I did gain 10+ pounds since I bought it, but I don't think it was ever right for my pear shape.  After the second winter, I didn't wear it anymore because I felt like a bag lady (not that there's anything wrong with that).

And then this summer, as I was browsing the coats at the Salvation Army I came across this vintage lovely....

I snatched it off the rack before anyone else could (never mind that it was in sweltering August and no one else was in the store).  I quickly examined it.  There were no buttons or no belt, but I could not find a pill anywhere on it.  It is at least thirty to forty years old.  I figured that if it didn't pill in the last forty years, it won't ever.  The inside revealed a red satin lining with a label "Denise Originals by Pierre" A true original! Another label indicated it was Union-made in North America.  (Guess where the new coat was made?)  All this for $8.  Last month I found a belt a the same Sally Ann for $1, and paid the most (about $15) for new buttons.

Here are some close-ups, demonstrating that I can also get two looks out of this coat.


 The only issue I have found with the coat is that the sleeves are a pinch short, but I found some long red polar fleece gloves to compensate for that.

Best of all, most of my female friends and acquaintances have commented on how much they love my coat.  No one ever did that for my former new coat.  

New Vs. Old?  Definitely Old.

What I am coming to love about vintage clothing, is of course, their quality and durability.  Things are not made the way they used to be.  Sweatshop labour in China is no match to goods formerly made by well-paid, unionized North American workers who were proud of their craft.  It is a shame that outsourcing and the 'race to the bottom' has led to the end of the garment industry here.  According to the documentary Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags, 95% of the clothing worn in the United States in 1965 were made there; by 2009 this had been reduced to only 5%!  Want a reason for the economic doldrums?  Here it is.

From a more vain and ascetic point of view, vintage clothing's style and patterning cannot be beat.  This coat has great colours running through it, including a pinky-orangy-red stripe.  Lately when I have been shopping for new clothing, I have been disappointed with the lack of patterns.  Next time you go into a chain store, have a look - nary a pattern to be seen. This of course, is related to the outsourcing and mass production of new clothing.  In Cheap, the author explains that to make money, multinationals have to cater to the common denominator; because patterns tend to be a personal preference, they will not have mass appeal like solid colours will.  I love patterns, therefore I will keep searching out unique vintage finds.

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