The Heart of the Matter
Actually, this was yesterday’s ensemble. We were prevented from writing last night by a manic need to rearrange the books that line the walls of our little Yoga Room. So, back in time a bit. . . . A windy and chilly morning it was (28 degrees), but the high would be 53 (43 with windchill). What to wear that would keep us thermally comfortable for our walk to work along the river, working inside a stuffy office, walking for half an hour at noon, and yet more walking up the hill to home at 4:30?
A rather odd-fellows group of The Style Sisters, consisting of Amalienne, Vivienne, Francine, Rajiki, and Paris Gray-Brown, offered to do the honors. “Fine,” said the rest of us, “only nothing too goofy. It’s one of those Mondays when we feel like easing into things slowly. Think sedate.”
Content with their assurances that they understood completely, we went off to do some yoga. We heard whispers, giggles, and the words “Let’s start with the yellow elephant socks,” which did not sound sedate to us. But we returned our attention to not falling over while in tree pose and hoped for the best.
And, to our surprise and delight, this is what they came up with.
Not exactly sedate, as that word is typically used, but we must consider the source. And the black trousers, scarf, and shoes, along with the shirt’s vertical stripes, do calm down the sweater and those silly socks. “Well done,” we murmured, “but rather chilly for the morning’s walk, don’t you think?”
“Oh, no!” chortled our merry band. “Look at the rest of it!” And they presented us with a shell to wear beneath the blouse, a wooly scarf, a thick cotton hat, and a leather coat—awfully good, as wild cattle and other hidebound creatures know, at blocking wind and cold.
And so we headed for the high road, feeling as if we ought to be sauntering off to an atelier or garret or smoky cafe to sip strong coffee and think deep artistic thoughts.
The Yellow Coat and the Turkish Tailor
We have mixed feelings about wearing leather, but we do love this cheerful garment. We found it marked down to 25.00 because of a barely ½-inch slice along one seam at a very upscale consignment shop—mostly major designers, and prices generally in the multiple hundreds. Our usual stomping grounds are thrift stores and charity shops where prices are typically in the multiple single dollars (usually around 5), so 25.00 for a single garment felt like major money to us.
But our pal, at whose request we had visited this rarefied emporium so that she could dream over the Dooney & Bourke handbags, campaigned madly for the purchase: “It’s you,” she insisted. “Fits like it was made for you!” Well, we wouldn’t say that, Mrs. Gildersleeve, but she assured us it was so and confidently predicted that we could get a tailor to fix the tiny slice for maybe 8 or 10 bucks. We fingered the soft yellow leather and caved.
And then we discovered that tailors these days do not even acknowledge your existence for 10 bucks. Our teeny repair cost twice that. But apparently we got a bargain, even at 45.00. When we took our impulsive purchase to the tailor, a Turkish gentleman, his eyes lit up when he looked at the label. “Vakko!” he said. “Very good! Turkish —very popular in Europe!”
“Really?” we said. “Then why does that smaller label say ‘Made in India'”?
“They have factories in India! But it’s Vakko! Very good.”
We thought he was mistaken or homesick or both, but we had found the coat at a pretty pricey boutique. With a little research we learned that Vakko is indeed a pretty prosperous Turkish brand and popular, too. They were mentioned positively in a New York Times article not too long ago. And although not stratospherically luxe, the brand is carried in tony shops like Saks, Nordstrom, and Bloomie’s. Seems our little sunbeam is probably worth two or three hundred. Well, all we can say to all of that is “HaHaHaHaHa!”
The Morals of Our Story
Our Vakko adventure epitomizes one of the cardinal rules of successful thrifting: Look everywhere, because you just never know. And yesterday’s outfit epitomizes a cardinal rule of style in our establishment: Sometimes it pays to start with the yellow elephant socks.