On a recent trip to the thrift shop, I found an excellent old Chesterfield coat, very heavyweight, the kind of cloth you don't see too often anymore. It was, of course, shoved into a rack brimming with mostly crappy parkas and ugly, dated overcoats from the late 80s and early 90s. Single breasted with peaked lapels, and clearly quite old from a distance, it was of such better quality than the things surrounding it that it was practically glowing.
Velvet piping at the cuffs and breast pocket, a detail I haven't encountered often. Clearly this is old, and likely worn over morning clothes (striped trousers, cutaway coat, top hat, etc.) by it's original owner. Fits me like a glove, so it looks like I'll be keeping this one, though I will more likely wear it over a grey or navy suit, on a very cold day. True, I do already have an excellent lighter weight Chesterfield, but how could I pass this up? What do you take me for, a sensible normal person?
Produced in a tailor shop in Boston, a long gone place I've never heard of until now. Internet homework turns up nothing about this shop, though it will point you to plenty of great footage of jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, also not a bad thing.
Made in 1935 no less. Now we've got something that has value as an antique as well as just a fine piece of clothing.
$10, as-is. If a thrift shop is marking goods "as-is" look them over carefully. Chances are there's something majorly wrong. This is charity after all, not ebay. "As-is" means different things in different settings. So what's wrong with this coat?
One button has been badly replaced, but I actually found the missing original button in one of the pockets. No, that ain;t it.
The velvet collar is completely destroyed. Not just worn, fully wrecked. Things like this are a deal breaker for most people, which really is too bad. I'll go to a fabric store and get a piece of good velvet, take it to my tailor, and have him replace the whole collar. Purely cosmetic surgery. Even after I pay him, I'll have a stunning garment for less than $50. What new coat can you get for that? Besides, I'll have rescued an antique thing from the garbage dump, and effectively restored it for many years continued use, an act I find rewarding in itself. The way this coat is made, it's likely I'll wear it through it's 100th Winter, and that's kind of priceless.
Look for part two of this post in a couple of weeks when it comes home from the hospital.
p.s. If you're looking for a Chesterfield coat and are a 38 regular, I have another excellent one made by H. Huntsman and Sons of Savile Row.currently listed on ebay. Auction ends Friday 3 January.