The last real winter coat I chose for myself was in 1989. Right before I went to college, my mom and I went coat-shopping. I knew it would be cold in Massachusetts, and I knew I'd be doing tons of walking around outside. I found a bulky black coat in the men's section of a camping store. It was too big for me, but I could roll up the sleeves. It was warm and had lots of pockets, and that was all that mattered to me then.
That was all I wore until 1994 or so, when I started my first professional job. I had to wear a suit to the office every day, and the shapeless old coat didn't look right on top of it. So I found a dressy green wool jacket that, when paired with a scarf, almost kept me warm. I still wore the black one when I didn't have to go to work, because it was more suitable for frolicking in the snow.
Right when I started thinking that I really needed something newer and more attractive, I joined Team Elan. Then, like I said, for the next eight years my coat choices were made for me. I did buy a nice leather jacket six-ish years ago, but that's really more of a "late fall" weight, not suitable in the Dead of Winter.
So, we come to the fall of 2004. For the first time in a very long time, I don't have to buy or wear a team coat! Finally, I feel fully justified in buying myself a nice winter coat, anything I choose! I was thrilled by the idea.
Happily, I started hitting the stores. That's when things got complicated. The problem is: I have no winter-coat experience! What do people wear in the winter, when they're not in Elan gear? The choices were overwhelming.
As I tried on coat after coat, I discovered that I have a very basic conflict. I am always cold, and I hate being cold. However I am short and solid, so I hate bulky clothing. I want to find something that is cute and warm. Apparently these are mutually exclusive, at least for my body-type. Everything I tried on in which I liked the way I looked? Wasn't very warm. Everything that felt like it would keep me nice and warm? Made me look about three feet wide and dumpy. I also found that I much preferred the way coats looked on me when I was just wearing something light underneath. If I wore a nice warm sweatshirt? They didn't fit as comfortably, and they looked weird.
So essentially what it comes down to is: if I want to like the way I look, I'm going to be cold. In fact, this is probably already part of why I'm always cold, because I only look good in thin layers. Maybe this is just a sign that I don't belong in the North?
Winter is fast-approaching, and I still haven't found a coat I like. I did find a fancy fur-lined coat, which will be good for dressing up. But that will look silly for day-to-day wear. So what to do? I'm (literally!) frozen by indecision.
I think I may have to give in and just buy a big bulky coat, even if I don't really care for how it looks, so I'll have something to wear when I want to be warm. After all when I want to look cute but be cold, I can just wear my leather jacket. Maybe that'll work....