Really, that is the most perfect expression in the whole wide world for our recent good fortune at a local hospice shop. I had stopped in to drop off the wooden hangers they’d lent me awhile ago when I’d bought a couple of wool blazers for The Man in the Plaid Shirt. (He actually asked for them—quite amazing, given that he hails from Homo geologicus, a hominid subspecies whose members identify each other by their regalia: jeans, plaid shirts, thermal henleys, fleece jackets, and sturdy shoes or boots; extra points for a field glass carried somewhere on the person.)
It so happens that I’ve recently discovered I can wear the same blazers Mr. Plaid wears. (How’s that for household economy?!?) They can look like sharply tailored short coats (belted, perhaps) with plenty of room for layering on frigid days when I don’t want to be the 8 millionth person on the street in a puffy parka. Or they can look like blazers that are simply over-sized, as if I’d raided the grownups’ closet, bound on Peter Pan-ish adventures of my own devising. Or they can shape-shift back and forth between those two stories and psychologies, like those bunny/rabbit vases or the drawings that look first like a wine glass and then like two people kissing.
So … on this very cold Monday afternoon, I thought I’d just have a look around for one or two more wool blazers that we both might shape-shift happily in. But the bright, tiny hospice shop, usually quite full with very nice pieces (mostly women’s ) at very fair prices (about twice Salvation A and others of their ilk, but with generally much better quality) was almost completely bare.
Francine and Jazz, the most impatient of The Style Sisters, wanted to head right back out the door. “Uh-oh. Change of seasons. Very slim pickings,” they chattered at us. “Not worth the time. Let’s go now. We want our free coffee at Trader Joe’s.”
“Not so fast,” I told them. “It always pays to look, don’t you think? You know what they say: One person’s trash …” and then we noticed some curious little play-money-like signs taped up there and there, each one announcing “Everything a dollar.” Seems Half-Price Week had just finished, and today was the first day of Everything Must Go Week. Well, that clinched it. “Go outside and make snowballs,” I told the two non-cooperators, “while the rest of us take a spin around.”
And what a fruitful spin it was! First we found this cute little number to further extend our favored palette of the moment (black and white with a dash of color) and stoke our ongoing obsession with houndstooth. Its tag said 6, which we would never have paid, but 1? Certainly.
Then, not one but three amazing blazers. This golden corduroy, with its leather-trimmed pockets and buttonholes, will likely be ours alone, since Mr. Plaid feels ostentatious in light colors. Original price: 7.
Next, a rustic model that I see on a guy riding a bicycle somewhere in Sicily (one of my heritage homelands). Or on a geologist. Its tag had fallen off, so we don’t know its original asking price.
And then this beautiful thing: Harris tweed dyed, spun, woven, and finished in the Outer Hebrides of that very same Scotland we’ll be visiting this summer! It carried a tag for 10—on the high side for such pieces in this shop.
“Wait,” whispered Amalienne. “It cannot be, 1 dollar for each of these, especially this one. We may perhaps have made a mistake, yes?” No. The price really was one dollar per garment, and for whatever reason, no one else wanted these wonderful garments. Still, not wanting to push our luck, we headed for the door … and discovered … the coat, The Coat, THE COAT: Yes, we’ve been wanting a long, straight wool coat—no doubt due in part to all menswear- flavored women’s clothing out there these days. But we didn’t know we wanted this coat until we saw it, because not one of us could precisely have imagined something so beautiful: The wide bands of the herringbone pattern, stacked like geological strata calmly telling the mute, mysterious story of some ancient ocean floor. The subtle pleats at the shoulders that drape the front into small dark rivers that hug both light and shadow. The way the wool fibers vary subtly in color, the tiny flecks changing with the perfect randomness of wild rice, given structure by the regular repeating black that forms the herringbone.
We might very well have bought this coat just for the pleasure of looking at it, even at the original price (10).
But we will wear it! We love not just the look but also the fit. Like the blazers, the coat is sort of bonkily over-sized in a way that makes us rapidly readjust our vision and rethink what we “know” about the way things “should” fit. “Oh, it’s way too big” we say at first. And it settles onto our admittedly baby fullback shoulders and something shifts: “Yes, way too … no … well, uh … what? Where exactly are those lines going? Actually, that’s … that’s … that’s … fine!”
It may not be fine 2 months from now, but no matter. At these prices, we can afford to kiss every one of these darlings a tender goodbye and send them on to someone else’s Neverland.
Categories: Look What We Found at the Thrift Store!