Losing A Well Worn Loved One

The Premise: On the cusp of a new year it’s become de rigueur to identify which fashion trends are beginning to surface, which are peaking, and which are long past their expiration date. Nothing against a good trend however I’ve recently begun thinking about the concept of “items which define you;” those that become closet mainstays because they make a statement, span the seasons and somehow rise above the vagaries of fashion. The type of item I am referring to would probably be considered a twist on a classic. Oftentimes those who know you associate the item with you and, in fact, you associate it with yourself. It’s especially winning when a particular fashion treasure occupies that sweet spot between being your “go-to” security totem while still packing a potent style punch.

The Hypothesis: I would venture to guess that many people have such an item, without even realizing it. Perhaps you take yours for granted–as Joni Mitchell sang “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” On last week’s “family vacation” (an oxymoron to be sure!) my daughter’s magical Rebecca Taylor jacket went AWOL. Spoiler Alert: it was not the first time– this is the Mata Hari of jackets.

The Plot Unfolds: I heard the woeful but not totally unexpected tale of its demise at a post mortem Sunday morning brunch. As tragic as it was comic, the story came tumbling out right after I asked why my 22-year-old daughter was currently sporting a wrist brace but before I noticed her cracked iPhone screen.

Foreshadowing: I specifically remembered asking why the leopard printed wool and leather sleeved bomber jacket was even part of her ensemble on a balmy Miami night as she departed the hotel.

The Plot Thickens: The past evening had had “everything” a la SNL’s Stefon.As best as can be reconstructed, highlights included: a local bar, a hot new nightclub, a wipe out in said nightclub (hence the smashed phone and sprained wrist), a Walgreens trip (to purchase the wrist stabilizer), a return to the scene of the crime (the club) after the wrist was secured, a walk on the beach as the sun was rising, as well as myriad cab rides. The potential for losing the long treasured article of clothing were countless. The most likely scenario: it was lost in the club and stolen.

The Back Story: This jacket was purchased about five years ago when my daughter was a college sophomore. She fell madly in love with it in Bloomingdales and while I hesitated; it was ridiculously expensive especially considering what happens to one’s college wardrobe (lost, stolen, ruined etc.) I relented, purchasing it at full price while figuring I would be able to get it price adjusted during the next sale.

The Irony: When I spied it on sale several weeks later (bloomingdales.com) at a fraction of the original cost, I purchased another one in order to get the price adjustment on the first one. I returned the second one (hindsight is 20/20), later kicking myself for not keeping it as back up.

The International Incident: While studying abroad in Paris her junior year, my daughter took an October weekend trip to Bordeaux. Running late for her flight due to a Metro mix up, the bag containing the jacket was inexplicably detained going through the scanner.Assured that after the additional screening the bag would be brought to the gate she was told to run ahead to catch the departing flight. She made it but the bag didn’t. Although she spent hours filing a police report and attempting to track down the bag, at least a month passed with no word. Air France told us that it had most likely been stolen. They would not take responsibility since the bag was not in their possession but under the jurisdiction of the French TSA. In desperation I ordered a replacement jacket, the only one available on eBay at the time, despite the fact that it was one size smaller than the original.

The Fairy Tale Ending: In late November my daughter got a call to come to the Paris police station. They had located the wayward bag. Amazingly, it was intact with all of its contents. Best of all the jacket was back! It was nothing short of a Thanksgiving miracle! The substitute jacket, unsurprisingly was a bit skimpy. Even though she owns several leather jackets, this particular jacket continued to be a wardrobe favorite worn over and over for the next two years– until now.

Deja Vu All Over Again; Circa This Week: Heartbroken, we turned again to eBay and were shocked and delighted to find the original desired size NWT (new with tags) at close to 90 percent price discount. It is on its way and I truly hope that this is the end of the jacket saga, once and for all.

Tom Ford Nikita Cat Eye Sunglasses

The Corollary: This story reminded me of a friend that I’ve long ago lost contact with. She and I worked retail together in the early ’80s. The quintessential fearless “cool girl,” she drove a vintage jeep while driving all the boys crazy. Her outfits were often just thrown together without much regard she did have one essential accessory: black cat eye Colors in Optics sunglasses. It was a long running joke that she would set aside a portion of her wages each week in order to afford the many replacement pairs after repeated pairs went missing.

Alexander McQueen skull scarf

The Takeaway: At first I didn’t think I had a signature item. I have worn the same John Hardy bracelets for years (my daughter wears the same silver Elsa Peretti bone cuff since high school) but we are talking about fashion items here not jewelry. Eventually I realized that I do have a trademark of sorts. Often as I run out the door I grab a nearly decade-old Alexander McQueen black and white skull scarf– the first of its kind I ever purchased. I have since purchased the scarf in a few other color combos however the original one in monochromatic tones is still my favorite. And yes, just in case they stop making them (mine is in danger of becoming threadbare), I own a backup.

– Laurel Marcus

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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