When we first met, Mr French was a bit concerned with my lack of fashion and thought I needed lessons in chic. He did not get my California hippy penchant for large, clunky shoes in odd color combinations, like fushia trimmed vomit green. Or my handbags that could double as a stuffed animal which I alternated with my equally inappropriate ‘Eastpak’ collection. He has since ‘corrected’ my ways and helped me develop a rather unhealthy habit regarding both shoes and bags.

These days, he can not understand why I still insist on wearing my threadbare, black frock coat when I could wear my other, perfectly modern, black wrap-around coat.

“But it’s from the 1940’s.” I whine.

“Yes, and it looks like it.” he reposts.

He’s right. The lining is shredded, the sleeves are worn and there is no button hole, so the coat can not be closed to ward off the winter winds. It is a little nutty to be wearing torn, worn out clothing when there are practical, yet gorgeous alternatives just one hanger over.

I bought the frock coat at one of those rag dealers near Les Halles when I was a starving student here in the 90’s. I was with my brother, and being a fille from la Californie, I didn’t own a decent coat. I found this one and have loved it ever since I loved it a little more when a tailor taught me it was a redingote, a traditional  French style that draws its name from the French trying to say “Riding coat” around the time of Marie Antoinette. I still loved when that same tailor mistakingly removed 6 inches from its length.

I have, it would seem, a passion for vintage coats. Like my 1950’s Paris couture black velvet, A-line coat with wide 3/4 length sleeves and a zoot suit lapel, or my 1960’s baby llama’s wool coat with jet black buttons (and holes torn under the arms). I’m missing the 70’s, but the 80’s are represented by my purple, inverted fleece Norma Kamali wrap around coat that I bought new for a small fortune and have worn ever year since then. The 90’s I went classical with a Burberry trench.

Now that we’re on to the next century Mr French is trying to show me the evil of my ways. He has guided me in the purchase of a grey Max Mara; practical, but boring and its already fading at the sleeves after just a few years!!! IHe has even gotten me into a warm, sensible, yet dreaded for being totally un-stylish, yet heart breakingly trendy Moncler, which my daughters hope I tire of sooner, rather. And I’ve acquired a lovely black cashmire trench style from Paule Ka that I love and look forward to wearing as vintage some day!


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