Too Many Jackets

My continuing socialization as a woman is a real roller coaster ride whose most recent loop-de-loop has been the realization that I have absolutely no style. As a child, it’s very easy to handwave a young girl’s muddled and middle-aged vibe by saying that they’re a tomboy, or bookish, or they just REALLY like the convenience of having their glasses on a chain, it’s cute, right? Like, they’re 12, but it’s cute?

I am not, however, a child.

I’m a big grown up lady.

But I dress like a sad 15-year-old.

The situation has improved somewhat in the past few years, but the fact remains that there’s no cohesive pattern to the clothes that appear on my body. I assign them to the correct work areas: pants on legs, shirts on top, everything the right way round. But the combinations are haphazard at best.

The way that I have mitigated the impact of this sartorial confusion is by covering everything with jackets. I have a lot of jackets. I have jackets the way people have shirts. A handful of them are very practical; down coat for when it’s cold out, a softshell, a rain coat, etc.

But entirely too many of them are not. I began today with the intention of going through my closet and getting rid of them with the help of my friends, but it turns out my friends are content maniacs and suggested I write an article instead.

So here we are.

Welcome to my jackets, and meet with them their fates.

I have no idea if I like this jacket. I acquired it in 2010 and have worn it eight times in the privacy of my bedroom and exactly zero times in front of other human beings. In fact, if someone comes into my room while I’m wearing it, I remove it casually, like I was just trying it on, a meaningless outerwear hook-up while looking for The One, when any idiot can tell I’ve been scrolling through Twitter for three hours in the indigo-hued arms of its confusing embrace. It’s just such a deceptively bizarre melange of elements.

On its surface, “denim jacket” as a wardrobe item is ideal right now — casual perusal of Pinterest, the shadow government of style, shows that denim jackets are Super In. But…it’s cropped. The structure the jacket provides is sublime, highlighting the waist without ballooning out the lower body, and the cuffs and collar are in line with 90s throwbacks. But it’s… cropped??? And really, the construction is solid — the stitching holds beautifully and adds threads of dusky gold to the deep cornflower of the dark wash, the lining is a sturdy fabric, and I can’t imagine this zipper breaking. BUT IT’S CROPPED. What do I look like, Keira Knightley as Domino in the movie Domino?

I have returned this jacket to the back corner of my closet. I can’t keep doing this.

I want to be the kind of hard-hitting 1980s journalist that this jacket wants me to be. The version of me that wears this jacket has had a long-running affair with her editor that’s referenced in passing by all of the bit players in the movie starring this version of me, and then you find out a third of the way into the movie that the editor is, *gasp*, a woman. The version of me that wears this jacket gets into a brawl with a would-be source, is kicked to the ground, and then pulls out a taser to bring down the chump who knocked me back. I get the story anyway, because I command respect. The version of me that wears this jacket eats only cold Chinese food and doesn’t pick out the weird lil’ corns. The version of me that wears this jacket loves whiskey. The version of me that doesn’t wear this jacket, the actual version of me, used to wheeze when drinking wine at Communion. I am not the version of me that wears this jacket. The thing about the version of me that wears this jacket — is that they kinda know the jacket isn’t a good jacket. But they’re too cool for that to matter.

This jacket is lovingly, wistfully tucked into a Goodwill bag.

My friend Bridget tells me that this makes me look like an 80s teen-movie villain, a James Spader character with a moneyed future and the hair of a white devil. All that this illustrates to me is that she doesn’t watch as many women’s sports movies as I do. This is clearly a charming soccer star look, and yes, it does look silly on me because no, I don’t really “run.” But weightlifting, which I do partake in as a way of punishing my old enemy, iron, doesn’t really have an aesthetic beyond tank tops and they don’t keep me safe from light breezes! Also this makes me think of young moms for some reason, God bless ’em. I drove a big ol’ van for a while. The jacket stays.

This guy. Oh boy. On the list of things I like to imagine myself as, Someone’s 1950s Boyfriend isn’t NOT on the list. Like, a progressive 1950s boyfriend, but one who still participates in the benevolent sexism of chivalry and who also played a sport. Milkshakes and hot rods and being surprisingly good in the school play they were forced to participate in to graduate (1950s Boyfriend Me is a little dumb, as his homeroom teacher would lovingly explain). That’s the kind of dude we’re talking about here. I just wanted ONE item of clothing that would make someone, anyone, look at me and think, “Hey. If this were 1958, and she was a dude on the track team who smiled up at me and winked when he finished winning the meet for our underdog school, I’d date her.” Is that so much to ask???

Yes. Because this jacket is from Forever 21 and it is fooling exactly no one. This jacket is weak, and can’t bear the burden of fucking gender and spacetime at once. Bye, betch. We shared a beautiful dream. This jacket bids a wistful farewell.

Everything I said about the last jacket, BUT ALSO IT’S STARFLEET COMMAND COLORS LOOK AT MY COMM BADGE.

This decision is made easy by the fact that this jacket has recently become way too big for me. Adios, my dude.

It feels like a shame to get rid of a fine woolen jacket from a major department store. Fine woolen jackets from major department stores are a kind of national white lady icon. Surely the first step I can take as a white lady toward helping to end the racial divide in this country is reconciling with my own flawed cultural history. But look at this mess. Nothing worse than a slouching jacket that should have a strong enough cut to enforce structure. Stop making me look round in the middle! That’s my job! This jacket just makes me think of all its wasted potential, which reminds me of MY wasted potential, a topic I am keen to avoid.

Also, I feel like I lost the heart of the garment when Shocker bigwig Corbin Smith cruelly stole it from me in college and wore it for like six months. [Ed: I looked fucking amazing.] It never really returned to me. Its heart belongs to another. I will stuff it in a big ol’ bottle and send it into the ocean, where I hope it will find the one it belongs to, somewhere on the Williamette.

Don’t say it. I know. There’s no way I couldn’t know. This vest doesn’t fit. It is loud, it is very puffy, and it definitely doesn’t fit. You think I don’t know that? I know that. I’m not blind. Even if I were, I’m the one trying to zip it. I feel the futility of it. The frailty of my grip, the constriction on my ribs, the unmitigated gall of continuing to try to close the distance.

This vest was my mom’s in the 70s. She was very fit then. And I’m not talking modern-day fit, I mean 70s fit. It’s a kind of fitness we’ve forgotten about, in our hypertrophic quest for largess in our excellence. It’s a lean, deceptive fitness that pushes us over mountains and hikes us down highways and leads us into a national spike in serial killers. It wasn’t an ideal fitness. But it was a fitness that this vest fucking fit over, and she’s very attached to it. She wants me to be able to wear it. I want to be able to wear it. I worry about what that ability would mean for our mountains, our highways, our crime rate. But if there is a lean, cruel world on the horizon, this vest might be called upon. If I can fit myself into that vicious, slender future, perhaps I will fit the vest, too.

The vest returns to the closet. It will wait. I know it’s not really a jacket — but, real talk, I don’t give a shit.

When I saw this jacket in 2006, I thought it looked like Rogue’s jacket from the 2000 X-Men movie that I’m not supposed to tell anyone I love. It didn’t fit me then, so my sister tore it from my hands and BOUGHT IT FOR HERSELF, which I capitalize in hopes that you will empathize with how betrayed I felt. It’s fucked up, right?

The jacket is corduroy, which is an impractical but lovable fabric. The emotional weight of the betrayal, the reconciliation of the jacket’s return to its rightful owner (mother? I’ll say it), the fact that I’m still a fucking dweeb who thinks that 18-year-old Anna Paquin is a hip vibe — let’s face facts. It’s stupid, but I’m keeping the jacket. I’m wearing the jacket. Probably with impractical shoes! Not like, heels or anything, but Converse, which are a very stupid choice in Seattle — rain inevitably gets through the rivets. This jacket is the wet Converse shoe of jackets.

It goes on the hook by the door. I’m wearing this shit later.

A year ago, I drove a truck for the first time. This was a big deal. If you have driven a truck, you get me. If you haven’t, lemme explain — I’m a pretty tall lady who has spent a fair amount of time driving around in either a minivan or little low-to-the-ground four-doors. The minivan was the only vehicle that didn’t feel like it was crunching me just a bit every second I was inside the car. The only problem with the minivan was…it was a minivan. No matter how many weird little kitschy touches you add to the interior, no matter which cool-and-youthful stickers you throw on the back, no matter how long you make out in it trying to drive out the demon scent of soccer moms — you’re in a goddamn minivan, you hack. I know you have a fucking cooler in there, and reusable grocery bags. I KNOW YOU HAVE ATLASES FROM 1993.

But a truck, by contrast: the grumbling engine, the proudly and stoically uncomfortable bench seat, and the SPACE. It was like my own big sky country. I had to climb. into. it. I wasn’t folding my hulking frame into a little space for little bodies, bending my spine and begging some little pony of a car to take me where I wanted to go. I reached up toward God Himself to pull myself up into the cab of that thing, and it was like riding a goddamn mountain.

I drove around the block. That’s it. I reparked my uncle’s truck.

And I have been a wasted human being ever since, torn forever between that brief, gas-laden taste of vehicular heaven and a desire to not fuck over the entire planet just to feel good.

That’s what this jacket is, but it doesn’t melt ice caps. This jacket is my love letter to the time I drove a truck. I keep the jacket.

I don’t think I was really considering getting rid of this jacket, but because it isn’t one of the Very Practical Jackets, I put it on the pile to sort. My mom and sister bought it for me because I really like most iterations of Sherlock Holmes, and was at home reading “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” while they were at Target, so they got it. They are very loving and charming and impulsive with money like that.

This jacket looks very good with scarves and boots, two things I also enjoy. It’s nice to have a jacket like this. I would recommend it. I think this is the jacket that comes the closest to whatever tiny egg of style is incubating deep in my being, so I wear it a lot. Like when you’re a kid and you find That Thing You Like To Wear. This is my Thing. I should be past it. But I’m not. Fuck you, man.

FINAL TALLY:

Jackets Lost: 4

Jackets Retained: 6

Maybe still too many jackets.