27 November 2007

Sometimes the stars *do* align

If there was one investment I was determined to make good on this year it was a new black Winter coat.

True, the knee-high almond-toed platform boots, the block-colored work sheath, the patent leather Mary Janes, the high-waisted tulip skirt, the replacement black leather daybag and the funnel-neck swing jacket were all on this same "what'll I do without it?" list, but you must understand, vital as each of these additions were to my poor, barren wardrobe, none of them, neither individually nor in sum, could compare to the need I felt for a suitable, can't-wait-to-put-it-on-every-morning black Winter coat.

Up until this past March (I've been relying on my olive trench since then), I had been wearing the same simple wool-cashmere blend overcoat for four straight years. My steady Betty has always hugged my body perfectly, a feat for which much props should be given considering the upsies and downsies in size my lady lumps have undergone between the point of sale and the present-day. Its collar pops up with a nice stiffness that blocks the wind and encases my neck on those frequent occasions when I absentmindedly leave my scarf at home. Its pockets so worn from the jagged edges of my house keys that unless I placed them just so in one of two back right-hand nooks, they - along with Monte's plastic sandwich bags and sometimes, my iPod or a handful of Ice Breakers Sours - would slip through and travel down, way down, only to be trapped inside the knee-length hem. In addition to lining deterioration, there was also the normal wear-and-tear dry cleaning chemicals and my own behaviors had taken on its of-mediocre-quality fabric and fasteners: some patches were blacker than others, some of the buttons were chipped or partially eroded, and though endearing and reminiscent of my Mother and Oma, the inside of the right hand sleeve was left threadbare from the constant friction against my seven gold bangles.

Until this Summer when I liberated from my coat closet the trusty piece of outerwear that had seen me through my second tour in China and my entire duration in this city and really took notice of its defeated state, the part of me that wanted to side with my Mother's "It'll last one more season" cautioning realized it could not, in fact, make it through one more Winter.

So from that early August day forward, the search for my new black topper has been in full-swing.

My requirements weren't outlandish. Sure, I wanted something a bit more stand-out than the traditional barn, pea and walking coats I see day in and day out at the foot of DC's cityscape, but I wasn't reaching for the Vidler & Nixon stars or anything. Preferably, I was hoping for a modern silhouette and something of the haircut-showcasing variety.

The first of my three disappointments was an impulsively purchased one. Essentially, I saw it, I liked it, and I ordered it. Because it is no longer available online, I'll send you here for a general idea of its aesthetic. I can't point to any one major flaw, but as we ladies are all too familiar with men, with coats there is the same kind of it-works-or-it-duhn't mentality. You know and you know right away. This selection, like so many men whose company I've endured in the past 11 months, was clearly not "the one."

The second disappointment, like the first, can be filed away in the "no shopping late at night while watching QVC's 'Gourmet Holiday' special" category. Against Monte's better judgment - a snubbing that would ultimately earn me three full days of silent treatment - I gave into the lure of 15%-off plus free shipping and "placed order" with this selection. There's no need to really get into the specifics of why the BR and I didn't work out, but let's just say that quality isn't BR's strong suit, especially with their larger ticket-priced items.

The third and final disappointment simply didn't fit, but unfortunately, it was not in an easily remedy-able should've-ordered-a-size-up/down kind of way. Too tight in the upper arms, too tight across the chest and far too loose in the waist, it took me half a twirl in the full-length before I was filling out the return form.

Jaded and sick of waiting in line at the Post Office on Saturday mornings, I just about gave up and gave into Monte's plan to permanently borrow without asking something from Hot Redhead's Lawyer's supersaturated outerwear collection.

But then something happened. Somethings, rather.

During my superficial attempt at cleaning before my trip to Michigan, I uncovered a piece of paper reminding me of a hefty credit at Bop I'd received after returning a pair of trouser jeans a shade - try 40 days - past the 30 day return window.

Then, while in Michigan and doing the research for my dress gloves post, I came across Bop's "getajump" promotional code.

And finally, to complete the tri-per-fecta, I found my dream coat, conveniently, also at Bop.

As Florentino well knows, if you wait long enough, those stars will align:

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

'tis lovely! that BR coat looks like it would've made you (or anyone) look ass heavy. In some circles that might be a good thing, but not to me.

Do you wear any makeup on your face? You look so naturally pretty!

Johanna said...

oh goodness me, YES I wear makeup on my face. it takes a lot of spackle to look that natural. three types of concealer, to be specific: eyelid (Laura Mercier Eye Basics), under-eye (Revlon Age Defying concealer with Botafirm) and one for everywhere else (Stila Perfecting Concealer).

thanks for the compliment, though :-)

best,
J

glammy said...

The Hanii Y is nice, but I like the third one best. Too bad it didn't fit well. I'm kinda shocked that it was too tight in the arms, because from what I can see you've got little twigs for upper arms. No way in hell mine would fit!

somedayserious said...

that jacket is HOT. but won't your arms be cold? you'll be picking up a pair of the superlong gloves, I suppose?

brown rowergirl said...

That coat is so impractical and so utterly pretty to look at. So you.

p.s. what was up with all the Brown hating last night? Probably a bunch of Harvard f**kers. I f**king hate those tools.

intrigued said...

Are the bracelets cultural if both your mother and grandmother (oma?) waer them? Do you never take them off?

karen m. said...

I hate when people say this to me, but...you look awfully tired here. On the flip side, you have AMAZING lips! Who'd have guessed?

The coat is so unique. A real investment piece. I'm thrilled to hear you wore the same coat for four years. Then again, that was before you took on this blog persona. I have a feeling the old "you" was slightly less clothing obsessed. Am I right?

Teek said...

Girl, I admire you but I am never asking you for cold weather advice again ;) (Lansing has got nothing on my hometown for cold and weather-y.) That is a *fall* coat, not a winter coat. A gorgeous, flattering fall coat, but not a winter coat. I envy all you DC women for your mild "winters".

K said...

I came very very close to buying that in white... but the price simply could not be rationalized.

Love the black version on you, and love the cobbled together discounts.

Nice workin', J.

erika said...

Just like I don't really understand your excessive love for dogs, I also don't get your excessive love for clothing.

but you are one helluva storyteller, and that's why I keep coming back.

Anonymous said...

for the love of Amy Winehouse, puhleeeease grow your hair out! it's so cliched "stylish" with its asymmetry and jaggedness. You proclaim to have a ladylike style, so why are you walking around trying to look like a member of a New Wave 80's band??

Johanna said...

anonymous 4:42-

Nope, I like it the way it is. Just wait, it'll grow on you in the same way my use of the words "upsies" and "downsies" will.

kiss,
J

not tom h. said...

mmm....yes, the lips are nice...

lila m. said...

Yes yes the lips are nice, but that coat is fabulous! If I hadn't already bought mine for the season, I might be tempted to go for the white version...good luck with those short sleeves come February!

Beach Bum said...

It really is an impractical coat! I'm a fan of JCrew coats with the thinsulate lining (you can only get them online). It looks nice (though not very unique) and keeps me warm. Now I have one of every style and color! I like the extra zing of color on my winter mornings...

dara said...

at least it fills your tiny frame out a little. the material looks like it's thick enough for a winter coat, but the style is, as everyone has said, so fabulously impractical.

I bet you're eating that up, aren't you?

Johanna said...

with a spoon, Dara :-)

Johanna said...

intrigued-

yes, the bracelets are cultural (Indonesian) and no, they haven't come off since I was a child. They're beautiful and meaningful, but when you have to go through the pat-down EVERY SINGLE TIME you go through an airport, you begin to wonder how worth it they really are.

best,
J

knew you as hannie, too said...

you look so young in these pictures! if I didn't know better, I would've guessed you were college/grad student! weird.

the coat is beautiful, but what's even more beautiful is your creation of "tri-per-fecta". I swooned out loud when I read that. I bow to your prose, Han.

holiday said...

You're definitely going to need some extra long gloves. The coat is really cute and obviously features your favorite oversized collar, but I kind of think it adds unnecessary bulk to your small frame.

laura said...

Love, love, love it! It is beautiful, and so are you.

I would venture to say the bracelets ARE worth it...I believe in the power of special jewelry, especially the way it can connect people. A few months ago, my parents were burglarized; the thieves made off with almost all of my mother's jewelry. But she still has the stories and memories that went along with all those beautiful pieces. Cheesy, but true.

Anonymous said...

I simply love love love that coat. Impractical or not. It is gorgeous. That's all I have to say.

d. said...

gosh, i actually just bought that same BR coat for 30% off plus 20% off coupon on Black Friday! I can't believe I picked something you actually liked...for a while anyways..:)

Love the one you picked...you look lovely, as always...

Jami said...

Love the new coat!

I retired my old standby this Thanksgiving too and am thrilled with its replacement: the warm Via Spiga Belted Three Quarter Length Coat from Nordstrom ($100 off, no less!). New outerwear makes such a difference.

Nice strategy with the short sleeves, by the way-- no more worries about bracelet friction, eh?

west coast devotee said...

Oui! Oui!

Watch out Miss Thing, you're starting to resemble the very people whose politics you can't stand ;-)

The hair is looking sleeker and sleeker everyday. Don't change a thing.

Dave said...

Any picture of Johanna frowning is not one this blog should have. You found your dream coat. Smile.

Anonymous said...

oh but Dave, that aloofness - whether real or invented or a little of both - is part of our girl's charm, isn't it? a smile would throw off the equilibrium of the site!

the coat is dreamy, btw.

Anonymous said...

you should write for a living and that's all there is to it.

Candice P said...

You are so flyyy!