As posted earlier, I ordered the on-sale ($90) Talbot's raincoat. The styling was pleasing but the fabric too stiff for my tall, ample frame. In the colour called Clay, I looked like a clay pot.
When I tried it in the store in pink, the fabric seemed okay; either an illusion of the shade, or maybe the dye altered the hand. It's now even further reduced on Talbot's site, $62.50, in limited sizes.
I found this calmly elegant trench at Marina Rinaldi, where I went not expecting much; I can wear their skirts but swim in the tops.
Bottom line, pun intended: a size 14 fit, with minor alteration. What did I get for four times the price of the Talbot's coat (and that's 50% off)? Leather buttons and buckles, smart pinstriped full lining and finer fabric.
Both coats were machine-washable cotton-poly blends (ratio unspecified), but MR's felt like highest-quality cotton.
Major purchases, minor resources
My search for a not-too-pricey raincoat lead me to think about making major purchases during a recession.
For every five persons who lost her job in 2009, only one is back at work and half of those who have returned are at jobs that pay less than their former position, according the New York Times. These stats reflect the results of five 50+ women friends, even though Canada is supposedly doing better.
Coats, one of the most expensive wardrobe items, are worrisome if you're unsure whether your job will last or you're helping young-adult children who've returned to school because they can't find work.
And everyone needs a coat from time to time.
Sewers could make theirs, if their tailoring skills are solid. The rest of us need shopping skills. The double-markdown Talbot's might be a score for a slimmer woman.
The thrifts can yield treasures. In the interests of research, I trolled Value Village yesterday; a classic camel London Fog trench and black fine wool balmacaan by an Italian maker, both looking unworn, were $22 each. Of course you need some luck, but the racks were full for all sizes.
I had a brief chat with an attractive 60-something woman trying on jackets in front of a mirror. She lost her job in late '08 and though getting by in a new field (real estate), saves where she can. She found three new shirts ($2.99 each) and a sun hat.
Or one can take the advice of Genevieve Dariaux, author of "A Guide to Elegance", who thought a woman should simply wear her usual tailleur and carry an umbrella, unless in the country.
The times aren't quite like Thirties, when my aunt made a plum velvet skating cape from curtains she found in a trunk and my mother, a bride, turned my father's shirt collars. But many will not be plunking down a paycheck on a raincoat anytime soon.
My new trench is "investment dressing", an approach I've tried but achieve only intermittently. I plan to wear it for years– years, I hope, of better times.