Romance that lasts: vintage London Fog

The tag of my perfect (vintage) London Fog coat
You could say Violet (the heroine of Going Native) loves clothes a little too much, especially the clothes in her friend Giselle’s closet. To her, they represent romance, adventure, feminine power and sex. When she tries on Giselle’s clothes, she’s trying on Giselle’s lifeā€”and gets more than she bargained for.

There’s romance in my closet, too, in the form of a raincoat I bought more than 20 years ago.

I justified paying full price for it by measuring it against my list of requirements. And quite a long list it was. My perfect raincoat needed:

  • Career-appropriate appearance
  • Zip out liner
  • Single breasted
  • No belt
  • Neither beige nor black

Yes, I was an unapologetic perfectionist. Some requirements were practical, like the lining. Most were vanity, based on mistakes I’d already made. (I don’t look good in trench-coat tan, not many belted coats look good unbuttoned, etc.)

I looked high and low, unwilling to compromise. And then I found it. A grey-green London Fog with a floral print in muted purples. It fulfilled every requirement.

At rainbow’s end, I found rain-repellent happiness

As I pulled the coat from the department store hanger, I heard angels sing. This was love.

Detail of Sally Felt's beloved vintage raincoat.

Some garment love affairs are short lived. One season. Two. And I admit my trusty London Fog hasn’t always been the first coat I reached for every one of the 20-plus years since my ecstatic purchase. But it’s been a consistent player in the rotation. This winter it’s enjoying near-constant wear, partly because it’s been a perfect match to local weather and partly because a friend’s daughter knitted me an infinity scarf that’s an uncanny match, color-wise.

“Where did you get your coat? I love it!”

From a cost-per-wearing standpoint alone, it’s become one of the thriftiest purchases I have ever made. But there’s more.

The coat attracts groupies. Fashion-conscious women, who were toddlers when the coat was made, lust after its stand-up collar and shoulder pads. They dig its inverted back pleat and angular sleeve detail. They swoon to think there’s a coat that goes so perfectly with a purple purse and gloves.

It’s even possible they hear the angels sing, though I’ve not asked.

Is the thing fashionable? I haven’t a clue. I wear it because I love it and because it’s just so darned perfect. I don’t even mind the smug told you so offered by past-perfectionist me.

How’s your closet love life? Tell me about one of your longest-lived garments. Do you still love wearing it, or is the thrill gone?

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