My fascination for vintage clothing began when I was 15 years old, as I yearned to be different. I’m not sure how it started, maybe being brought up on Britpop and then darting towards bands such as The Jam and The Kinks when I was older. Music was a huge thing for me, but as Paul Weller once sang in Strange Town: “you’ve got to wear the right clothes.” So with the Modfather’s advice I started to dress in polo shirts, pencil skirts and leather loafers, accessorised with a sixties Kelly bag. Not forgetting the beehive hair-do which I achieved by pinning various products including a shower loofah under my hair.
One lady who did share my love for vintage was my nana, Doreen, who I religiously went shopping with every Saturday before I got a part time job. We would check out the local charity and vintage shops together to see what we could find. However, I soon found out that I didn’t need to look very far when it came to finding the most authentic vintage coat.
I still remember the day my nana showed me the black fur coat that she’d treasured all those years ago. It wasn’t just any fur coat, it held the most stunning and flattering shape, fully lined with a concealed fastening and made from the most sleek textured fur which was sumptuously soft to touch. However what made this coat even more special to me was that it was a gift from my granddad to my nana for Christmas in 1968. My nana spotted the coat in a suede and leather shop in Sunderland town centre, and told my granddad all about it. Being the gentleman he was, my granddad went out and bought it for her. After sitting down and hearing the whole story from my nana and trying the coat on several times, I knew I wanted to give the jacket a new life.
I remember wanting a faux fur coat at the time, and this was far superior to all of the ones I had seen on the high street. More importantly, it had belonged to my nana and it was vintage, something that my nana knew I loved. After a lot of hinting, my vintage dream came true. Sentimentally, on Christmas Day 2013, I unwrapped the beloved fur coat, feeling honoured that my nana had decided to pass it down to me. Ever since, she has complimented me whenever I wear it. In her own words “I gave it to you because it’s so special. You’re my only granddaughter and I idolise you.”
In July 2008, my granddad suddenly gained his angel wings, which left our family heartbroken. Since his death, my nana has amazed me with her strength and ability to cope without the man who she was married to for more than 40 years. We all have those moments where we have a few tears, as those of you who have lost a loved one know, it never ever gets easier. This was another reason why I was so humbled that she had given the coat to me.
Ever since that Christmas day, the coat has become a loyal companion and joined me on many adventures. It has journeyed with me down to Worthing to see my boyfriend, Sam, who I have been in a long distance relationship with for three and a half years. I remember walking along Brighton Pier one cold December wearing the coat and wrapping it tightly around me to keep warm, I could even still smell the nostalgic musky scent of Estee Lauder Youth Dew perfume from the last time my nana wore it.
Even the first big argument that my boyfriend and I had, I wrapped the coat around me as a comfort blanket, for my granddad to tell me it was all going to be ok. It accompanied me to university interviews, including the Sunderland University Journalism open day where I got that sudden feeling that Fashion Journalism was the right degree for me. I like to think that whenever I wear it, that my granddad is with me, and that day he was telling me that I had made the right decision.
Now here we are, as I write this on a dark autumnal evening where the season of fluffy socks and winter comforts begin, I look at the fur coat hanging in my wardrobe and think of all the memories that are yet to be made. I know that one day I’ll give the coat to my own daughter, and tell her all about her great nana and granddad and the amazing memories.