Wednesday, 19 December 2012

My New Old Coat - Tailors Are Your Friends

About a year ago we were hanging out with some good friends at a beach house they had scored for the weekend on Puerto Rico. While lounging around in the living room waiting for rain to pass, one of the guys asked me if he could buy me any one thing in the world, what would I ask for. And I answered a Max Mara cashmere coat. Because I find them beautiful. And useful. And something I can pass on to daughters one day. And I'm never going to drop $2000 to own one.

Fast forward to this summer when I found a vintage Max Mara for under $40. And if that wasn't amazing enough, it was a cocoon coat. (I have a slight obsession with the retro look of cocoon coats.) Unfortunately, this one was more than a smidge too big but also inexpensive enough that I figured I could resell it if I needed to. Or pass it along to a very lucky friend. So the beautiful cashmere Max Mara cocoon coat came home to live with me. And I loved it. And petted it. And hung it on a hook on the wall just to admire it. And I hoped that one day I could wear it without it swallowing me whole and dragging the ground as I walked.

max mara

Enter Brooks, a St Thomas friend and tailor that Seth uses to hem his pants and sew buttons onto his tux. (He believes that normal people like me should not be sewing anything onto his tux.) I took the coat to her, not sure what to hope for. Gave her a my list of perfect coat desires: shorter length, bracelet sleeves, no cuffs, slimmer in the torso and arms, still maintaining a slightly oversized fit. She said yes. Cited a very reasonable price. And a week later I had it back in my arms.

coat - before & after

All together it cost far less than a good department store coat would have, which was my plan from the beginning because I only need a coat for a few weeks of the year. (But when I do, I need a good warm coat.) I know I'm fortunate that this story turned out to have a happy ending. Sometimes wool coats can be very expensive to tailor. Brooks ended up charging me even less than her original estimate because the coat was so well-made and the fabric so nice that it was simpler than she had anticipated. She also gave me all the extra fabric from the bottom. I've got a couple ideas of how to use it (an extra piece that converts it into a knee-length coat similar to this, or maybe a cashmere stole) but didn't have time to have her do anything else before we left for Christmas in New England.

Where I've been wearing it like crazy. To church with Seth's family. Meeting a friend out to catch the Patriot's game. Or here for a quick walk in Magnolia before spending the afternoon watching snow flurries.


collared french cuff shirt, Brooks Brothers (old, similar here, wear it forever!); sweatshirt inspired sweater, J.Crew Crewcuts (currently on sale!); pants, Gap (old, similar here); scarf, Target (old); beret, old; shoes, Vince Camuto (free at a clothing swap); bag, BCBG (old)

If you're on St Thomas and want to see what Brooks can do to freshen up some items from your closet, please send her an email at Feel free to tell her that you found her via Je'mamuse!

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