05 May 2013

Horse Trading

In Zach's first half of this post, he writes of the serendipity that is crucial to successful thrift shopping. I've often written of the virtues of patience when it comes to this stuff. For me, the trade we dealt last Winter of two "different but the same" polo coats involves a good deal of both.

When I found the polo coat that eventually found its way to Zach, I was happy. I had wanted a classic polo coat since high school, when I first learned what one was. At the time, I was heavily obsessed with 1930s/40s dress up, and the polo coat had all the details to match. Its a testament to the classic styling of the coat that no matter how my tastes varied with time, my desire to have one never waned. I paid thrift store premium for the coat, and wore it a few times, but was never more than 98% happy with it, and not exactly sure why. Then it hit me.
The coat I had lusted after these twenty years wasn't just a polo coat, it was the Polo polo coat, as seen here. Ralph Lauren was in top for in the early 90s, when ads like this were running ( note the correct fit of the clothing. This was before designers were locked in a death race to make the smallest, tightest version of everything). The style was impeccable, the quality was great, and most of the stuff was being made domestically. Unfortunately for a guy like me, the prices reflected all this. But I was hooked. Only last year I had managed to acquire the equivalent double breasted navy blazer, and I'd waited twenty years for the coat. What was another Winter or two? I let Zach know I had a nice coat that might fit him, and he replied with the news that he had a polo coat too, one that might be better suited to me than it was to him.
So lo and behold, there it was! The actual coat I'd been thinking of all this time, an actual early 1990s USA made Polo polo coat. The one I'd found had a trimmer cut, in keeping with its likely early 1960s provenance; this one is fuller, with softer tailoring and a mid-calf length, details I find fitting on a coat like this.
Ralph's classic wide, knife sharp lapel, and big fat seams and edges,
Big mailbox pockets and wide turn back cuffs, with a 6x3 button stance that has clearly been rolled to the center button. 6x3::6x2, there we go again with nerdy numerical codes

A wide half belt pulled just tight enough to create soft draped folds in the back.

We agreed to a trade and both walked away happy. We didn't discuss what either of us had paid for our half of the deal, because in the end it doesn't matter. Each of us found something we wanted for a price that was more than fair, and each of us was left with a tiny pang of elusive regret, but we both came away with something better.

Having friends who are hopelessly obsessed with thrift stores as you are helps you cast a net that is exponentially wider when you consider things for their trade value. Just make sure that none of your friends are exactly your size.

8 comments:

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

THAT is a wonderful coat! Enjoy having it and wearing it when the weather cools off again next fall.

Best Regards,

Heinz-Ulrich von B.

David V said...

I thrifted my polo last summer. A few tiny moth bites in the lower front skirt but a run through the dry cleaners should have taken care of any leftovers. It's nice and roomy and i know there is a back story to it. I look and feel like Gatsby in it. At least I think so and that's enough for me.

Gents Outfitters said...

I have just been spot cleaning and sprucing up my beloved Rogers Peet polo coat in preparation for sale just this week. I kept a Paul stuart version that I wore on my wedding day but although they are exactly the same cut, and the Paul stuart coat is absolutely spotless, I'm crying big salty tears at the prospect of letting this hefty, moth-eaten beauty go. Along with the american navy pea coat, one of the most handsome and versatile coats ever designed.

Grey Flannels said...

That necktie in the 2nd and 3rd photos is the best ever!

Mason said...

That Polo polo is a thing of beauty. Jealousy abounds!

Giuseppe said...

Liberty of London, made in England

Stephen Patrick said...


Wonderful polo.

Say, did you see the thrift story of the year?
A Pentagon employee, history buff, picks up a WWll flight jacket at Goodwill ($17), LT bars and nametape intact. Well, inside of 24 hours doesn't he find the original owner, now 90 years young, and the coat is winging its way
back to the old war hero.
[As the GIs say, it don't get no better than this.]

Johnny said...

Giuseppe,

Is it cold enough in Boston for you to break out your coat yet? I can't wait to see this thing in action!

And this post has me frequently scouring eBay for one of my own!