You know how sometimes you spot at item when you’re out shopping, and it speaks to you so much that you just have to buy it? I have experienced that a few times. But much more rare is when that happens in reverse: those times when you envision a clothing item in your head and then it appears. Maybe you haven't even spotted anyone wearing this magical look, but you've conjured it up in your mind as something you need. And then, voila! One day you serendipitously find it.
That recently happened to me with a cabernet-colored velvet evening coat.
Watch: 12 Irresistible Velvet Pieces for the Holidays
On a few recent occasions, when going out to a nice event, I would don one of my cocktail dresses but feel that I needed some sort of jacket or coat—both to complete the look and to keep me warm for the chilly evening. Yet nothing I owned seemed right. My black leather bomber jacket? Sure, that works sometimes (and I love the juxtaposition of masculine and feminine pieces), but It does’t always work to add the edgy rocker look to a dressy evening outfit. My faux fur? Too heavy. My silky, black raincoat? Too thin. My camel hair jacket? Too casual. My black velvet scarf? Not significant enough.
I kept rifling through my closet searching for something that just wasn’t there. I found myself pulling out velvet tops and even a velvet “jean”-style jacket. And then it came to me. I needed a crimson-colored velvet evening coat.
I kept picturing the coat in my head. It would be roomy and have pockets. It would go down to about mid-thigh. It would be the perfect shade—like a goblet of rich cabernet, not Santa Claus red. It had to be much darker and deeper than that.
I could have searched for it on the Internet (I don’t know why I didn’t), but then one day, while shopping, I saw it. It was at Nordstrom—I had run in for something else but spotted a swatch of crimson velvet on a hanger out of the corner of my eye. When I pulled it off the rack I couldn't believe it!
It was as if my vision had come to life, complete with the pockets.
But then I hesitated. It was from Lafayette 148 and the price tag read $648. Suddenly, it felt sort of frivolous. I mean, how often would I actually wear it? It’s not like it was black. Plus, I live in Los Angeles where it’s not exactly coat weather for very long. On top of all that, couldn’t I find something much less expensive at a vintage store? I was kidding myself, of course. I rarely go vintage shopping, and what were the chances of me finding a coat just like this one? Probably slim to none.
Still, I slowly hung it back up and left the store, feeling proud of myself for not spending the money.
But then I kept thinking about it. Especially a few days later when I went to a Wild Life Aid gala and needed a nice coat to top my black velvet dress. Damn! Why didn’t I buy it when I had the chance?
About a week later, I decided to go back. I worried it would no longer be there. And sure enough, the rack where it had hung was now filled with some green cardigans and coats. “You blew it," they seemed to be teasing me. A sales woman saw my look of disappointment. “Can I help you?” she asked.
I described the coat and she disappeared. A few minutes later she was back. Miraculously, she had found it in a different department. “This is our last one,” she exclaimed triumphantly as she handed it over.
I tried it on again, plunging my hands deep into its pockets. I twirled around. I let my blonde hair fall over it. I felt like Joseph in his amazing technicolor dreamcoat. This time I was not letting it go. I happily plunked down my credit card.
That was just before Thanksgiving, and as of this writing, I have already worn my evening coat six times, a couple of those occasions with black velvet jeans, burgundy velvet boots and a black or burgundy silk top. Just yesterday I wore it to a luncheon, over a peacock-patterend Nili Lotan silk dress.
So, what can I say? As much as one can be in love with an article of clothing, I am in love with this coat. It feels magical and luxurious, festive and even a bit sexy. Plus, it feels like I conjured it from my imagination.
Hmm, I wonder if it exists in navy blue.