27 January 2015

Cosmetic Surgery

As some of you may be aware, we in Boston are currently in the midst of some full blast Winter worthy of the Frozen North. I decided to spend a portion of the snowbound day (the part not spent consuming brandy, Guinness, and beef stew) performing a bit of cosmetic surgery on an old coat.
I've had this old Brooks Brothers duffle coat for a few years now. Originally picked up at a thrift shop (of course) for $12.99, it quickly became a favorite. I wear it a lot with jeans and sweaters, and over preppier jacket and tie combos involving tweeds, blazers, button down oxfords, cords, et cetera. The blanket lining keeps me warm, and the brownish shade of tan works well with anything. The only thing I never liked about it was the leather thong toggles and silly plastic "teeth", but I could live with it. But a real duffle coat ought to have rope and wood toggles.
Fortunately, replacement sets can be ordered from Gloverall, the English manufacturer of these coats, for less than $10. I ordered a set over a month ago, and it arrived in short order. In the package are eight pieces of jute rope and four wooden toggles.  I had hesitated about bringing the coat to the tailor to have the new toggles put on, mostly because I didn't want to be without the coat for a week or two in the middle of Winter. Then today we were snowed in, so I decided to have a go at it myself.
The fist thing to do is basically assemble the toggles. Each wood toggle is wrapped in jute rope which I then sewed tightly in place. The remaining four pieces of jute were sewn into loops. When doing this step, make sure to leave the loops wide enough to easily accommodate the wood toggles when fastening them.
Next, after carefully removing the old leather thongs with a seam ripper, I sewed on set on partially to insure that I had the placement correct. In order to keep things neat, I made sure to stitch through the ghost of the stitch marks left by the original thongs. Then I tacked down the other end and trimmed off the excess jute. Repeat with the rest of the toggles.I set the project aside a few times to do other things, but all told the entire process took little more than an hour.
In the end, I find the coat to be vastly improved. It's a small detail, but an important one. No doubt I've gotten my $12.99 worth out of this coat in the last four years, and with these new toggles it will last for many more to come. Sometimes the best new coat is your favorite old coat.


Anonymous said...

My 15 year old Gloverall duffle coat (which cost more than 12.99, unfortunately) has leather and bone toggles. Your coat with its new toggles looks nice, too, but its old incarnation looked fine to me. If it were my coat, I would use a sweater depiller and clean up the front a little, and then it'll look great again.

Bernie said...

I so happy you're still posting. I just bought a used LL Bean version of the duffle coat. They call it the Baxter coat. Not quite as heavy as the Gloverall but it's still wool and insulated with thinsulate. It also has a nice throat piece that I like. It has wooden toggles but leather ties. I like your modifications and for ten bucks I think I'm going to try it. Please keep posting. I love your blog!

Victorian Sword Collector said...

I, too, am glad to see you back! I thought of you and your blog today as I dropped off a donation at a local thrift store. I had written off the local thrifting scene before I even moved in to my small Midwestern town. The nicest place to buy clothes is at the small and dying mall. I assumed it would be full of castaways from Kohl's, Sears, and JC Penney. I was pleasantly surprised to see Brooks Brothers, old-school Lands' End, and even a few suits and blazers from a long defunct local men's store. The quality of materials, especially on the old local men's store pieces, stood out even from the Brooks Brothers suits. There was also a great probably c.1970s or 1980s London Fog made in the USA trench coat. I resisted it because I probably would ever have occasion to wear it. But I was tempted. I was even tempted by the local men's store suits even though they didn't fit me--probably because I am a collector and I love history. But my practical side won in the end. I did get a nice LE 3 button sport coat. I might get into this thrifting thing afterall!

Paul Headrick said...

I like this post, and I echo Bernie: I love the blog. I'm a bit concerned because it's been a while between posts here and on the "ehow style blog," which is also terrific. So I just want to say that I hope everything is going well.

Old Trad said...

I hope that your coat has recovered from surgery and that we'll be treated to another post soon.

Old School said...

We've been deprived of your posts for three months now. Looking forward to your return.

bb said...

I hope you’re coming back to the blog.

Unknown said...

Love everything you’re wearing – and I love those extra photos!ブランド服

Pietro said...


Today is the 12th of June.
Isn't it about time for you to make a return?

Anonymous said...

Haven´t been on this side for quite a while. It´s sad that you have stopped writing.
I always enjoyed your blog, i hope you are doing well.
Greetings from Germany