No More Big Coat

“Dress in layers,” said the instructor in the front of the room. Denver Free University. The class was Beginning Cross Country Skiing. “When you cross country ski, you can get very warm and then when you stop you can get very cold. You need to be able to put things on and take things off.”

At that moment — and only for that moment — I imagined cross-country skiing would be a constant battle for the the happy place between buckets of sweat and hypothermia.

But the layers thing changed fashion as I knew it.

Gone were the days of a heavy coat, weighing me down as I trudged through the drifts on my way to third grade. The third grade coat was made of naugahyde and it was uglier than sin but it had the GREAT advantage of being able to function, also, as a sled. During the snowstorm days all the kids with big naugahyde coats could flop down on their backs and slide down the big hill to the swing-set.

Good times.

For those who might not be familiar with the hyde of the Nauga, my coat was made of the same material as this chair and it was the same color:




I still have the last “big coat” of my life — it’s a cashmere trench-coat. I bought it on layaway in the 70s when I was a penurious paralegal struggling to keep the electricity on in my efficiency apartment. I loved that coat and I might maybe be buried in it because I cannot give it away. It represented — to me at the time — my glamorous future life as a free-lance writer.

Who knew?

I toted that coat to California where I protected it from moths and back to my Colorado garage.

Now that I’m back in freezing Colorado (not now but in a few months) I don’t even wear a big coat. Sure, I have my down parka. De rigueur for anyone living here, I guess. And you can still throw it on over a t-shirt and go to the store. But layers are the thing and I wonder at this very moment if I’m wearing summer clothes or if I jut took off some layers back in May.

Well, there are the flip-flops.

P.S. The coat in the photo isn’t my coat — but mine looks JUST like it. 🙂

11 thoughts on “No More Big Coat

  1. I remember the days of the winter coats. We all had one, in my teenage days and even going on 30. you had to have one, heavy, thick and protective from the cold. Thank goodness for the modern fabrics. I wonder if they are still made?

  2. Layers have always been the thing in New England. Probably in any climate with rapid changes. Ireland was THE most fickle environment I’ve ever experiences — and probably because of it, also has the most rainbows. I think we saw two or three of them every day, often double or triple arches.

    I have some big heavy coats … but I almost never wear them. For one thing, we’re always going in and out of cars and stores and the house, so the amount of time during which we need maximum insulation is relatively short and anyway, I hate heavy clothing. Probably living in the wrong region for that.

    Got your book downloaded! Looking good!

  3. I love camel hair. Growing up in NJ, that was always my coat of choice, always. When I moved to FL, I had to laugh at their ‘winter’ coats. But now, having lived here so long, I don’t have a camel hair coat and the few coats I do have are laughable. Northern cold weather and Southern cold weather are two totally different things.

    • That’s for sure! Though I have never been as cold as I was in San Diego. Unheated, uninsulated houses, 40 degrees, 70% humidity — long johns in the house! 🙂 I guess Florida doesn’t do that?

      • No, Florida doesn’t do that. The really old homes have no insulation, gas heaters and window AC units. I bought one of those when I first moved here but my electric and gas bills were way more than my mortgage payment! The heat is more intense than up north and the cold goes through my bones. It is weird, but I know I could not do snow anymore. I love your photos, but I have been away from it for way to long now.

  4. I’m crazy about cashmere but all I have ever bought were 3 sweaters that I didn’t take care of and moths ate holes but I wear with a black under lining. I need to have them cleaned and that will keep the moths at bay for a year or so. I wear with jeans and a shirt over these. Can’t wear wool. Doesn’t get very cold here in Central Texas and if it does the temp dips generally just overnight.

    Love your coat and I’m glad that you decided to keep it. Wise choice. Who knows, maybe you’ll need it someday. 🙂

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