Monday, 26 January 2015

The Staple: Check, Mate

And so to another coat. Sorry about that - in my defence, it is bloody freezing out there! This one though, I haven't written about before - mostly because I bought it just the other week. 

The middle of January (the 20th to be exact, fact fans) heralds my birthday, which for the past few years has meant a sale treat. Last year it was the Christopher Raeburn bomber, and this year I surpassed myself and actually bought myself 2 coats in the sales.

This particular one though, as with so much sale shopping (right?) was an accident. I've been a bit of a fan of Ben Sherman over the last few years, as their range has matured to become a sort of junior Albam (that occasionally goes to a rave, rather than constant dull art openings). They've expanded their offering to include some really great things, that are chock full of detail and very reasonably priced.

So for the last few months, before the Sales and as they progressed, I had my eye on a black watch Tartan parka, osensibly to replace my student/miner chic one. On their website, it looks bloody fabulous - tailored in the right places, smart and just the right thing to chuck on over anything to keep toasty warm. In store though, it was another matter. The cut was all wrong on me, too tight at the neck, and with a proper trad parka fishtail hemline, as well as a boxy hood, that combined to give it a touch too much of Italian exchange student for me. A valuable lesson learned there - buying online can often prove fatal.

But with the purse strings opened by a previous Liberty bargain (of which more soon) and the shopping lust well and truly out, couple with Ben Sherman's bargainous sale markdowns, I was determined to make a purchase. Just not sweatshirts (anyone that knows me knows that I already have waaaaay too many!) So I checked out their coats and found this beauty. It's a little similar to the B Store one I bought a few months back on eBay, but made from a sturdier wool, and cut impeccably, as was pointed out to me by one of the menswear designers at work. This coat has a half-raglan sleeve; so raglan at the back of the shoulder, and straight at the front. this gives it the comfort and informality of a casual coat, but also the sharper shoulder shape of a smarter piece. 

Unlike the parka, its pockets are in exactly the right place (hand height, durrrr), and the checked wool is clearly not from a 99p shop at the end of Brick Lane. I've taken to wearing it in a kind of Mod-ish way, with the top button done up and the rest free, creating a great a-line shape. It's rapidly become the go-to coat, despite not being as warm as the parka. 

Anyway, a little insight there. I've got a few articles brewing post-LCM (and the rest of the menswear shows; just fired off my Paris report), so I'll try and keep a little more regularly updated. But definitely worth scouring the end of the sale. This jacket was knocked down from £195 to £78. £78! That's the price of a jumper in most places. If you get paid Friday, go and have a scout round those sad-looking sale racks and see what you can turn up; there's plenty left to be found if you look hard enough...

Check, mate indeed.

Monday, 5 January 2015

The Staple: Very Good, Parka

As January dawns, the thoughts of people working in the fashions turn to the upcoming 2-3 months of shows, presentations, catwalks, parties and relentless travel. It's a tough job (no, srsly), and I'm sure there'll be all sorts of thrills and spills across social media and various ritzy locations as the next few months unfurl.

However, January signals two things for most people: 1) it gets very cold and 2) everyone is very poor. Sadly I can't offer any tips on fixing the latter, but for me, every year I return to this jacket for some reason. (aside: January is also my birthday)

I've been in London for, well, this is my 13th year here. So some time. And despite gaining and losing more items of clothing, friends, drinks, colleagues and books, this parka seems to have stuck with me. I bought it as a first year student, living in Max Rayne House on Camden Road (typing those words does indeed take me back). On my walk back from the bus from uni, there was a vintage shop, just by Camden Rd station - now long gone - where I spunked most of my student loan on American college Ts, scratchy cardigans and 1970s kipper ties. And this very parka was a January purchase there.

Why a parka? Well dear readers, I have a confession: I was a noughties indie kid. I went to indie discos across Camden, I loved Trash at the End, I partied at student unions, I was obsessed with the Libertines. It was a fun time. And I must've seen it in NME or read about it in the Face or something, but parkas were cool. I bet Graham Coxon had one. Anyway, I picked this up for about £35, and it was pretty knackered at the time. I wore it relentlessly (with self-ripped and patched bootcut jeans, Puma Roma and a vintage BA flight bag *don't judge, it was 2003*), patched it up, and never quite got around to chucking it out.

Partly because it's so damn warm; it's like wearing a duvet, and it's got those hand-warmy pockets on the chest that are uber-toasty. And partly because, well this is real life. Not sure if you've picked this up from the blog along the way, but I don't go around wearing custom-made Valentino couture, or incredibly rare Miyake samples from 1983. Well, not *that* often anyway. 

I've grown to love this parka, there's something refreshingly honest about it - I love the terrible fake fur on the hood, the bobbled hood, the faded orange's not trying to be ridiculous, and it does its job well. It's the kind of jacket you can pull on over a T to face a cold winter's night, stuff behind a speaker and party til dawn, and then retrieve and wrap yourself up in it, safe in the knowledge that it's done its job. And yes, I have tested that theory - though not enough recently.

Back to January's shows though, and will I wear it to LCM? Probably not. It's practical for cold tube platforms, and like my walking gear at my parents in the Lakes, knows its place. But then, who knows - this parka has been to stranger places before.

(with apologies for the terrible photo - amazingly there is not a photo in existence in the history of Facebook of me actually wearing this. Oh and also, hope some of you get the Thunderbirds ref in the title...)

***UPDATE*** Turns out I've written about this damn parka before. Ah well, enjoy the update and any inconsistencies in the story. The original post is here.